I just returned from a week in hot, sweaty and rainy Orlando, FL where I spent the bulk of my time at the Agile 2010 conference. It was my first time at such a specialized, non-design conference and I was doubly excited since I also presented. I went down with many questions — how are other organizations dealing with transitions into Agile? Is Design and User Experience even a consideration? What challenges and ultimately what solutions are people finding that work well for their teams?
I came down to Florida with those questions. I went home with them too. To be fair, I did get a slew of new tactics to try but the general vibe is that many folks are struggling with Agile — especially when trying to incorporate a design team (of any size, skillset or configuration). I focused my attention on sessions that dealt with the core problems with this integration as I see them — personalities and planning.
I found Lisamarie Babik‘s session on Coaching Introverts interesting and useful as it focused on pulling the quieter members of the team into the process more. I also spent time in Jean Tabaka‘s Visioning session. While it was a bit fluffy for my tastes it did give me some good ideas on how to focus the team on the things they want to achieve and not on the negative perceptions of an Agile design environment.
Jeff Patton and Desiree Sy — both UX/Agile legends at this point — provided strong tactical sessions on how to plan product design activities into the sprint timeframes. I found those sessions valuable and both individuals extremely friendly and forthcoming for conversation and differing opinions (Jeff I’d met once before but this is my first time meeting Desiree in person).
My presentation on integrating UX and Agile is embedded below. I feel like it struck a nerve with the folks who attended as it dealt directly with the failures we experienced at TheLadders as we’ve been integrating UX into Agile. But, more interestingly than that, it showed that even when good ideas fail, you can iterate, tweak and try them again — which is the essence of being agile.