Re: [agile-usability] Seeking Input: CreativeCommons ebook argues for extensive "Application Envisioning" (Iterations -1, 0) for knowledge work products
- Thanks for your reply, Jacob.
Suppose your ideal team went through the inception process you describe, and then threw away all the artifacts. Would that provide roughly equivalent value?
I ask because it sounds like you mainly value the exploration and thinking. Getting rid of the artifacts (or, for the nervous, locking them in a vault or something) would reduce the risks caused by large design inventories, personnel transitions, and HiPPO distortions.
Jacob Burghardt wrote:
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. You bring up some great points.
Iteration zero length: I gave an open answer because there are a lot of variables at play (teams + product complexity). Something concrete: I have worked with teams to collaboratively accomplish “application envisioning” exercises in ~3 intensive weeks.
About the potential team problems that you described due to up front strategic thinking about user experience in an iteration zero:
Let me say that I am a big believer in core teams, not the *start team* and the *finish team*. You insightfully describe some issues that can stem from the transition from separate, big picture definers and designers to a larger software development team. I find that while highly effective teams may grow as they move forward to deliver value, they generally do not place an emphasis on handing off batons.
“Extensive up-front planning creates the problem of insufficient strategic thinking”
That’s a very interesting idea. I agree that if a team is handed a design strategy and application concept that feels monolithic and complete, they may feel that there is nothing left for them to think about in a strategic way over the course of bringing a knowledge work application to life. That definitely would be a problem, as these design problems are often multi-faceted and exceedingly complex – but it is not what I’m suggesting for “application envisioning.”
In my view, a compelling output of iteration zero (or whatever a team chooses to call their early envisioning phase) presents the larger vector, conceptual forms, and narratives of a product in a way that:
1) Is inspiring, not belittling. It communicates clear value and strategic rationale, actually instilling a desire to make the product an implemented reality.
2) Is visibly changeable and incomplete. It is a sketch that communicates the essential ideas of targeted user experiences, but does not draw a tightly confined box around the specifics of the outcome.
I do not have examples that I can share of what I mean – a consultant’s dilemma that I will try to remedy soon. However, I believe that the above two points reduce the likelihood of the cultural norm you describe where up front, strategic research and design lead to a sense of R&D completion or skill rustiness when it comes time to apply this mindset to Agile iterations.
I have worked with several high quality Agile teams. However, I think it’s safe to say that I have not worked in a “green-field project with a team experienced with all of the XP practices.” I will start benchmarking teams I come into contact with against this standard to see if it changes my perspective on how best to arrive at truly innovative, useful, and meaningful knowledge work applications.
Building on the “Working through Screens” e-book (http://tinyurl.com/67lvoz), I plan on putting together a publication that is more procedural and has concrete examples of potential deliverables. I look forward to following up with you at that point to see what you think!
Until then, I hope that the 100 envisioning ideas in “Working through Screens” – many of which are also applicable to research and design within Sprints – provide some measure of value to the Agile-Usability community.
Flashbulb Interaction, Inc.
"Driving vision at the forefront of knowledge work user experiences"