Introduction to Agile And Design Thinking
Agile approach and design thinking- these are the top buzzwords in the IT sector at present. Every other enterprise is using such catchphrases to entice the budding entrepreneurs. However, Not many out there can effectively combine these methods to create a sustainable product.
Knowing how both methodologies work unitedly despite being different will provide the enterprisers with an edge when choosing the right development partner.
So before jumping into the fray, take a look at this detailed discussion on how agile methodology and design thinking can function concurrently for the creation of a credible product.
Before We Beginning: A Brief Look At Agile & Design Thinking
Before starting the discussion on how agile and design thinking processes can be consolidated and used to create reliable and sustainable solutions, let us have a look at these approaches independently and surmise what these entail.
Let’s start with agile.
Agile Methodology: What Is It?
Agile was introduced to the world in 2001 by 17 developers, who wrote the Agile Manifesto. This manifesto defines the goals and principles which serve as the backbone of the entire approach.
On the surface level, Agile is a term that covers a set of frameworks and practices that streamline the product creation process. This is a clear diversion from the age-old Waterfall approach that followed a strict step-by-step blueprint.
The focus of Agile is to produce durable and valuable solutions affordably. An important thing to note here is the fact that even though there are plenty of frameworks, lean-agile scrum methodology happens to be the most familiar among them.
The Phases Of Agile
Even though there are many distinct types of frameworks out there, and scrum happens to be the standard approach everyone uses. So keeping that in mind, here are the basic phases of product development using an agile methodology.
Phase 1: Product Backlog Creation
This phase is dedicated to creating a list of features to be integrated during the development process. Each of the pieces on the list of elements is called a user story, and every user story happens to have an exclusive ID number. Besides the ID numbers, the user stories also come with importance levels, overall work needed, and how it will be demonstrated.
Phase 2: Sprint Planning And Backlog Creation
Once the output backlog is done, it is time for sprint planning. The initial thing to do during this phase is to decide on the sprint duration. Briefer sprints empower the developers to crank out working versions of the software unceasingly, as well as gather reviews and make modifications quickly. On the other hand, longer sprints improve the quality of work and eliminate the chances of bugs.
The success and failure of this phase depend on the collaborative power between clients and programmers. Once both parties have reached an agreement about the sprint duration and the hierarchical importance of the user stories, the team can commence working on creating a scrum backlog.
Phase 3: Sprint Meetings
The next step in this process is tasks and meetings. The tasks are done iteratively, with the use of channels such as Trello, Jira where programmers can monitor each user story related task and its status.
The meetings are quite important to stay on top of the entire process. Each programmer is supposed to give a rundown of the elements and how far the work is going.
Phase 4: Sprint Reviews
This phase is all about reviewing and demonstrating the user stories integrated within the solution. The full cycle testing phase is crucial to finish the tasks and ensure that no bugs are remaining for the smooth transition to the next sprint.
Phase 5: Sprint Retrospection
The main aim of this phase is to discuss the results of the current sprint and the ways the work process can be improved. The team takes a complete stock of all the rights and wrongs throughout the process and takes measures to improve the next sprint.
The interesting parallel between the two approaches is that the steps are in no way looked at hierarchically. The phases of both lean agile scrum methodology and design thinking work side by side, simultaneously rather than in a gradual process like in the waterfall method.
Now let’s get a look at design thinking before blending both approaches
Design Thinking: Not Just A Thought On Design
Design thinking is not just aesthetics.
It is a complete iterative operation that presents an enhanced perspective about the users, reviews, and challenges common assumptions, and helps redefine the pain points.
The whole approach is designed to create unique and longer-lasting solutions that are flexible to the ever-changing scenario of the global market. The design thinking process affords in-depth information and facilitates the creation of such remedies that solve user problems accurately.
There Are Never Too Many Questions With This Process
The entire operation is based on the act of questioning. Experienced web design companies in cities like New York always begin this process with questions about the users, the problems, the existing remedies, and where those solutions are falling to be efficient. All these questions are necessary to move forward in the process from one phase to another.
Design Thinking: A Game Of Phases
Just like the theories about aliens, there are many variations of this method. And depending on the variations, the phases can differ as well. Here we are about to discuss the basic 5 phase process for better understanding.
This is the standard version according to the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, which is considered to be the forerunner in the field of design thinking methodology. As for the 5 phases, they look something like this-
Phase 1: Begin With Empathy
The opening phase of the design thinking process is all about obtaining a commiserative perspective on the users and all their problems. This phase assists the designers to ignore preconceived notions and immerse in a user-centric research process where they gather crucial intel intrinsic to the user’s experience with the existing solution and the still-persisting problems.
Phase 2: Define The Problem
The second phase is about taking all the gathered data and compiling it together to recognize and define the core problem. One major thing to be noted here is this- the problem description is always from the user’s point of view, not the company’s. For example, the defined problem is always phrased as “the clients need a streamlined document sharing and editing solution on the EDMS.” And not, “we need to increase the number of clients with improved document management and editing features.”
Phase 3: A Process Of Ideation
With the defined list of problems, the process moves forward to ideation. This is where the creators are going to list out concepts for possible solutions. With the concrete context gathered in the previous phase, the team utilizes various methods to list as many concepts as possible. At this point using multiple ideation methods can help with the continuous flow of the ideas and concepts.
Phase 4: Start Prototyping
This is an experimental phase, where the solutions generated in the ideation phase are brought to life as a trimmed version. This phase helps the creators to understand how the specific solution might work. In a combined process, these prototypes can be shared with the multidisciplinary units to get a comprehensive idea of build requirements.
Phase 5: Continuous Testing
It is the last phase, where the best concept out of all the possibilities is tested rigorously to ensure its efficiency in solving user problems. This is the last phase, but it happens to be an iterative phase, in which the outcomes are used to once again understand the use-case scenarios and define other problems the users might face.
Now that we have taken a brief look at both agile and design thinking methodology, let’s consider how these methods can come together.
Agile And Design Thinking: Meant To Be Together
The market is changing rapidly, and along with that, the user demands, types, and use-cases are evolving as well. In this constantly shifting landscape, organizations are having to create and launch solutions at an increasingly fast pace. This fast pace results in ignorance towards in-depth research into the reasons for the rapid changes, and how they can make their solution relevant regardless of this constantly shifting landscape of the industry.
A product that cannot stay relevant to the market regardless of the changes is in no way a sustainable solution. And that is why the combination of agile methodology and design thinking can be the perfect solution to creating products that will sustain the user demands over a long period.
While Agile focuses on steadily churning out working solutions, design thinking provides a greater focus on the users throughout the entire process. Combined, these processes can expedite the entire operation as well as ensure the product is effective over a long period of time.
How Can Both Processes Adapt To Each Other?
Regardless of the differences, there are many ways agile and design thinking can adapt and work in a consolidated manner. The processes truly correlate with each other when it comes to creating a product that stays relevant regardless of the changes the market place goes through.
Agile Makes Measuring Success Easier For Design Thinking
Design thinking methodology is a way of thinking and iterating the solutions produced for the users. There’s no set metric to weigh the progress of this method, which is one of the major contrasts between the two approaches.
Agile works on adding value to each iteration of the project. And to measure this ‘value’ this approach has a set process of reviews/retrospection to weigh the success and failure ratio of the sprints and the value added to the product.
When combined, agile brings an easier means of measuring the success/failure ratio. This integration will ensure that during sprint review and retrospection, the conversation includes how well the user-centric approach has blended within the system and how it can be improved further.
Design Thinking Makes Agile More User-Centric
Design thinking is all about the users, while agile is all about fast-paced delivery of value.
Product development using agile methodology and design thinking can streamline the entire method and help generate longer-lasting solutions. In this merged process, team members can focus on delivering better user-centric outputs than focusing on the basic output centric goals such as the number of features added on the software or time consumed in development and testing.
Agile Accelerates Design Thinking Process
Both processes are iterative. However, the sprint technique of lean-agile scrum methodology can speed up the entire design thinking process. The multidisciplinary and collaborative approach makes it easier to prototype and test out the possible solutions and choose the best one.
Design Thinking Brings A Learned Approach To Agile Method
The learned approach to design thinking methodology can guide the agile process to become more consumer-focused. The initial method of gathering insight on the users and then utilizing it to build solutions alters the process and diminishes the future need of finding a guide for redesign.
Best Practice For First Time Integration
While the two processes make the best duo to create an imperishable product, there are certain best practices one needs to follow when integrating both of these methods. Here is a list of best practices for those who are working with these processes for the first time.
Further visit: How to Work with DevOps and Agile Quick and Easy Way
Start With Collaboration Contract
The collaboration contract is going to help the multidisciplinary teams to come together, discuss and document exactly how the teams will operate. This initial step to combine agile methodology and design thinking is going to be crucial in order to ensure the further success of the entire endeavor.
Develop Design Patterns
Creating a set of design concepts early on lessens the amount of time it takes to build the solutions. These design concepts should be easy enough to use by everyone. Having a set of these forms works as a building block and boosts the entire operation.
Schedule regular testing for the product. These periodic testing can help clarify any doubts regarding the viability of the idea from the very beginning. This way the required revisions can be made at a very early stage, eliminating the need to go through difficult transitions later in the process.
Design Thinking & Agile: The Perfect Combo For Sustainable Product
Combining agile methodology and design thinking is not easy. Companies that are doing it for the first time will find it harder than ever to combine such different processes together to form a streamlined method of operation. However, both processes come with unique advantages and enhance the process of development. This is a combination that every industry can benefit from.