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Should We Do [ Agile, Kanban, Design Thinking, LeanUX, …]

Published: October 11, 2016

b'\n\n\nShould we DO Design Thinking? Should we DO Lean Startup. Should we DO Agile? Should we DO LeanUX?

No. Just DO IT.

Stop searching for a silver bullet.

Become a student. Get to work. Reflect. Adapt. Roll your own.

I’m profoundly grateful for the work of the Agile community, the tradition of Lean in all of its various permutations (from TPS, Lean Startup, to Kanban), and the various design methodologies (e.g. Design Thinking). Because of their hard work, you — along with some other members of your team — can hit Google, read some books, maybe hit a conference/class and just DO IT (“it” being some form of trying things, reflecting, and adapting).

Yeah, you. No degree required. You can probably get started without that $2500 a day course. Put on your thinking (and feeling, and observing) cap and go.

Lest you think you can put everything into neat boxes, read the history of Lean Startup, the Agile Manifesto, Agile, Kanban for Knowledge Work, and design thinking. If you trace back the coining of most “ways” you’ll find people DOING IT out there in the real world, drawing from multiple traditions to chip away at a problem. Spotify Method … Spotify’s engineering team decided to rewrite the rules and create their own agile methodology. XP … Kent Beck’s “role expanded as he noted several problems they were having with their development process.” Lean UX … was honed by Jeff Gothelf and his team at The Ladders.

At some point, someone was DOING IT. IT started to work. Manifestos were written. Then books published and the requisite book tour. Conferences held. Consulting practices established. Then McConsulting practices. Buzzwords promulgated. Tweets blasted. The Big 3 Swooped In.

Things got complicated, I get it, but not something a Sunday morning, the internet, and some coffee can’t handle. You’ve got this!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that none of this is rocket science. The hard work of boiling down the traditions to actionable steps has already happened. To be in the top 5% you don’t need rocket science. Talk to any consultant, and they’ll admit that the biggest hurdle is moving past the political bullshit, incompatible HR policies, silos, soon-to-be obsolete job responsibilities, and the momentum of the “old way”. Cliche as it sounds, it is invariably a people problem. And, importantly, having people around who have either 1) done it or something kind of like it before, or 2) have enough time to do their homework, and exist in an organization where trying new things doesn’t carry a huge political risk.

The hard work is ahead of you (read about Intuits 8 year design thinking quest). Don’t get paralyzed on methods. That’s the easy stuff. Becoming a learning organization — capable of inventing and adapting your system — now that is HARD.

“But, but, but … everyone is worried that IT won’t work! So we need to be extra sure that IT is what we need. I read that IT sucks. And that IT is the hot thing.”

Do your homework on these traditions: there’s so much cross-over, borrowing, and evolution. You’re going to end up with a Franken-Method, so you might as well embrace that! Anyone who is looking for “the way” has either 1) maxed out all available options, and is doing swimmingly (file under problems you’d like to have), or 2) is delusional about the power of “the way”.