Scrum & Design Thinking – Part II

Jun 6, 2021 | Agile, Methods & Tools

Why You Should Start with Design Thinking When Starting a Successful Scrum Project.

In my last blog article, I showed you where I think Scrum’s weaknesses are in user-centricity. Today I will show you how you can use Design Thinking to solve this problem. Additionally, you will learn how else Design Thinking can positively impact your team.

When I attended my first Design Thinking training with a couple of colleagues and we completed our first Design Challenge with a rather boring topic for us (optimizing the user experience OPNV in Berlin), we were all excited about the atmosphere and energy that came out of such a workshop. We were about to change our jobs and dedicate ourselves permanently to the topic of OPNV in Berlin. But here’s what we did instead.

Our interest in Design Thinking came mainly from the fact that we liked the integrative approach of understanding user needs, developing solutions and testing them. We had the hope that this framework could help us to get more user-centeredness in our Scrum teams. After experiencing the motivation to meet user needs that comes out of a Design Thinking workshop, it was clear to us that this method can do even more.

Practice proves us right. By using Design Thinking, we experience exactly the desired effects. On the one hand, running Design Thinking with a Scrum team increases empathy towards the users, making it easier for the team to develop in a user-friendly way. The groove knowledge gathered during a workshop is incredibly valuable to most teams. At the same time, ideas for features or user stories often arise directly from the workshop, which immediately find their way into the backlog and the whole thing combined with a motivation boost to implement them directly. This is at least true if a workshop is well prepared and executed. Even if it is a simple framework at first glance, it is important to take it seriously and have the appropriate expertise with you.

At Tagueri, we have now succeeded in a large number of cases in finding ideas that really suit the user. Moreover, and this point is even more important, we have found even more ideas that do not fit the user and did not even go into implementation.

design thinking, scrum

When is a Good Time to Use Design Thinking?

Since it is a framework used to better understand user needs and find appropriate solutions, earlier is always better. The ideal time is before Sprint 0, so that the project starts with a good understanding of user needs. But even if your project is already running this is not a problem. Design Thinking can also be used well to get new inspiration and to increase team motivation. Depending on the environment, it is possible to run a workshop in one day, so the effort is manageable. I would recommend it to every Scrum team to try it out.

scrum, design thinking, agile

What is next?

What we are currently trying to do is to go one step further and integrate methods from Design Thinking directly into our Scrum Sprints. This includes, for example, that we sometimes let real users test new software features in the review instead of having them presented by developers. This allows us to directly observe if a feature is well received or if it needs to be reworked. Prototype stories have also been added to help developers find good solutions. In addition to the earlier feedback, this method has the advantage that, especially with larger features, the development team can then estimate the scope of the real implementation much more precisely.

As soon as we have more experience how the methods can be integrated directly into Scrum, we will let you know!

Written by:

Christian Korff


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