Ideas / Value-centered Innovation

The Lean UX tryout.

by Robert Hoekman Jr., Innovation Strategist

Everybody wants to try Lean UX. Some go for it. Some succeed with a version of it. Most end up running the occasional design sprint and then going back to what they know: waterfall product development pretending to be something else because the Engineering team says it practices Agile. 

You want something more. Something better.

But how do you introduce a rapid, Lean UX practice into an enterprise without a massive overhaul and disruption to a productive workforce? How do you prove the benefits of the move without hiring a staff of Lean UX experts and a change management team?

You do it by getting lean about Lean.

Tangible UX will soon be running an in-depth blog post on this topic, but in the meantime, here is something you can try out right now. Give this a shot:

  1. Identify a small project that can be executed by a small team using a low budget on a tight timeline. 
  2. Ask the team to list out its success metrics for the project.
  3. Ask the team to identify one or more minimal actions it could take to achieve those success metrics with zero or minimal technology. From this, write a hypothesis (format: If X, then Z).
  4. Have the team determine what thing or process change it must prototype to try out the idea and prove it works.
  5. Lay out the logistics for the experiment. State who will be involved, when it will start, how you’ll measure the outcome, when you‘ll assess the results, and what you’ll do from there.
  6. Go!


If the experiment succeeds, whether a software improvement or a process change or something else, improve on it — build something more sustainable, or make the process change permanent. If the experiment bombs? Good news! You’ve now weeded out one bad idea and learned something that might make your next one better. Try a new or revised idea and start again. 

Either way, in doing this, you’ll be sorting out how to make Lean practices work within your organization, and proving the merits of the approach. If you like what you see, you’re on to something. 

From there: Try it a couple more times. Stabilize the team’s practices. Have a second team try the approach. At every step, learn! Note what works and what doesn’t, adapt, and continue. This way, the team(s) improve themselves over time, and you earn yourself a new way to innovate using rapid methods and with far less risk.