Recommended ReadsNovember 23rd, 2021

finding a north star in the agile world

Rebecca Wright
Rebecca Wright, Senior Experience Designer

Over the past ten or so years I’ve worked in a range of government product teams. Most of these have followed an agile framework such as SAFe or Scrum.

An agile framework is often a very effective way to manage the technical feature development of a product. But there are some challenges involved. Like centring user research and design around the product build timeline rather than finding the best outcome in those disciplines. It could be that there is not enough scope to gather and unpack a diverse range of user needs from the start. Or not having enough time and information to frame the problem and design a solution that addresses the core issue rather than a superficial fix.

It can be easy for designers to fall into a continuous cycle of rapid prototyping to feed development teams, or react to the ideas from stakeholders and senior executives.

These challenges have got me thinking about how to be both strategic and agile. One approach could be to pull a small research and design team out of the agile cycle to develop the big-picture strategy. This work still has milestones, but those individuals are not drawn into the continuous development cycle.

Once a north star has been established, the team and organisation will have access to a clearer understanding of where they're going and how to get there. It makes features easier to plan and when a reactive change happens, assess whether it aligns with the strategy.

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