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Agile (Done Right) Is Continuous Design

Published: January 13, 2018

With Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), nothing is shipped. Design is continuous:

  • increasingly valuable working prototypes
  • continuous iteration, tweaking
  • continuous testing/learning with users
  • removing what isn’t working 1 NgXpHtEt0a7T0eFsOD2z4Q 2x

…but many orgs are stuck in the design->build->ship mindset even when they have the option to operate otherwise. Rework is abhorred. Designers are forced to guess, and no real iteration happens…the good old MVP bait-and-switch.

That’s a shame. Why?

Watch great designers at work, and you’ll observe a highly iterative, creative, evidence-based approach. Software (SaaS especially) removes a key constraint.

This is why, on some level, “everyone is a designer” ( Jared M. Spool ).

The Agile/Lean approach to software development (in SaaS especially) is basically continuous design. …working how designers work when given the means of production/distribution/replication and no hard “send to the factory” deadline. It’s how designers work when they’re designing and constructing small-batch objects, and have access to the user/customer. Perhaps we’re getting back to our pre-industrial roots…

1 gbwQa FWvCqI9eZT8tYewQ 2x http://www.ton-upmag.com/tag/surfboard-shaper/Design has always been about iteration, subtraction, and testing. One of the curses (and amazing beauties) of design is the need to say “it’s done” and send your work off to the printer or factory for replication. Fixedness (immutability)

has its advantages, of course — the perfect fixed design will live forever — but mutability inspires adaptation…a nice characteristic in an ever-changing sociotechnical landscape.

This is probably why Service Design keeps creeping up into the collective product design/development/management dialogue. Design with no requirement to “package and ship” becomes continuous and ubiquitous design. Customers, developers, UX, visual design, support, sales, success…all become co-designers. DevOps is part of “the design”. The “front-end” is designed. The sales person taking a call…participates in “the design”.

Value isn’t “shipped”…rather a value network is continuously enhanced and expanded. “Products” are the ephemeral delivery mechanism…a person a decade ago, a mobile app today, Alexa tomorrow, and AI in a decade.

The designing never stops, and we’re all involved.

1 XCQZtv3AtbYgXIE47mbgGw 2x