Notes from Jeff Gothelf’s Maintaining Continuous Research in an Agile Background with Experiment Stories

Jeff Gothelf’s presentation from Lean UX 2014, link here.

Software delivery is continuous today–amazon.com pushes code live every 11.6 seconds! They release in tiny chunks, learn what they can, pull it back if there are problems with it. Then they tweak and deliver it again.

The old mindset was the software needed to be packaged all together into a discrete thing that got released every year or so.

Reality now is that software can be continuously delivered, learned from and iterated on in real time in a build measure learn loop.

Continuous learning builds shared understanding within the team.

  • A product discovery phase might kick the process off–but research needs to then continue in every iteration phase.

2 techniques

  • A well-prioritized backlog
  • The “experiment story”–instead of “what do we need to build?” it’s “what do we need to learn?”. The team should staff and estimate it together. Who gets assigned to it? How complex is it to test? The experiment story MUST be added to the backlog. What stories go below it?

Once the experiment is over, you can:

  • bring learnings to your stand up
  • follow it up with artifacts
  • assess the impact to the backlog
  • re-estimate or write new stories
  • communicate findings with stakeholders etc
  • get approval for any necessary scope increase

Jeff is a principal at Neo and author of Lean UX: Applying lean principles to improve user experience.

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