The Great Scrum-Design Thinking Showdown
Sprinting Through the Minefield of Innovation and Empathy
Welcome to another episode of Design Is Hard, where we expose the brutal truth behind the glamorous facade of the product design world. Today, we're diving into the age-old battle between Scrum enthusiasts and Design Thinking aficionados. Can they coexist, or are they destined to clash like Batman and Superman? Let's find out!
Disclaimer: A Note on Creative Liberties
Before we dive into the chaotic world of Scrum and Design Thinking, we'd like to clarify that the examples mentioned in this post are purely fictional and crafted for illustrative purposes. These anecdotes were created to highlight the challenges and trade-offs of working in a team that juggles both Scrum and Design Thinking methodologies.
In reality, my experience at Ancestry was truly fantastic, and I deeply appreciated and enjoyed working with my talented teammates and colleagues. This post is meant to entertain and provoke thought, not to reflect the actual experiences or events that occurred during my time at the company. So, let's dive into this light-hearted exploration with a sense of humor and a grain of salt!
Limited Time for Research: Sorry, No Time for Empathy
"We had a client who wanted to redesign their entire family tree experience in just two weeks. As you can imagine, there wasn't much time for a deep dive into user research." - John Wayne Hill
Ah, research - the cornerstone of Design Thinking. If only we had the luxury to spend endless hours getting to know our users, right? But alas, Scrum's sprints don't allow for such leisurely pursuits. We must sacrifice quality user insights on the altar of tight deadlines, because who needs empathy when you've got a backlog to burn through?
At Ancestry, John Wayne Hill faced the Herculean task of redesigning the family tree experience in a mere two weeks. A deep dive into user research? Forget it. The Scrum gods demanded a fast, furious sprint, leaving no room for nurturing user understanding.
Pressure to Deliver: The Fast and the (Sometimes) Furious
"I remember pushing the team to ship a new feature every sprint, only to realize that we were sacrificing quality for the sake of speed." - John Wayne Hill
Scrum's relentless focus on rapid delivery can drive teams to prioritize speed over quality. The result? A steady stream of hastily designed features that may not fully address users' needs. Innovation? Sorry, no time for that - we've got a deadline to meet!
In his time at Ancestry, John Wayne Hill witnessed the perils of sprint-induced speed mania firsthand. As he pushed the team to ship new features every sprint, quality took a backseat. Sure, they were fast - but they weren't furious enough to create truly groundbreaking solutions.
Difficulty Iterating: The Design Thinking-Scrum Tug-of-War
"We once had a project where we kept going back to the drawing board after each sprint, only to find that our assumptions were wrong every time. It was like running in circles." - John Wayne Hill
The iterative nature of Design Thinking doesn't always play nicely with Scrum's linear progression. Revisiting earlier stages based on user feedback can throw a wrench in the well-oiled Scrum machine, leading to confusion and frustration.
John Wayne Hill experienced the pains of this tug-of-war at Ancestry, as his team struggled to find the right balance between Design Thinking's iterative approach and Scrum's linear progression. It was like running in circles - sprinting, iterating, sprinting again, but never quite making it to the finish line.
Resource Allocation: The Great Balancing Act
"We had to walk a fine line between dedicating resources to user research and ensuring that our developers had enough bandwidth to work on their tasks." - John Wayne Hill
In a world where time and resources are finite, how do you strike the perfect balance between Design Thinking and Scrum? It's a delicate dance, my friends, and one that John Wayne Hill knows all too well.
During his stint at Ancestry, John had to walk the tightrope between allocating resources for user research and ensuring that developers had enough bandwidth to tackle their tasks. A misstep could spell disaster, sending the project into a tailspin of delays and missed opportunities.
So, dear product designers, as you embark on your next Scrum-Design Thinking adventure, remember that it's a rocky road fraught with challenges. But fear not, for with wit, wisdom, and a dash of snark, we can navigate this treacherous terrain together.
To recap, keep these points in mind as you attempt to merge the worlds of Scrum and Design Thinking:
Limited Time for Research: While empathy is a luxury we all crave, sometimes we must sacrifice it for the greater good of sprint deadlines.
Pressure to Deliver: Speed is great, but don't let it blind you to the importance of quality and innovation. Find a balance that works for your team.
Difficulty Iterating: Be prepared for the tug-of-war between Design Thinking's iterative approach and Scrum's linear progression. It's a marathon, not a sprint (pun intended).
Resource Allocation: Master the delicate art of resource allocation, ensuring that both user research and development tasks receive the attention they deserve.
Remember, fellow designers, Design Is Hard, but with a healthy dose of laughter and a keen understanding of the challenges we face, we can make it through this Scrum-Design Thinking showdown unscathed. So, buckle up, and let's tackle this wild ride together!
Thanks for reading Design Is Hard! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
About John Wayne Hill
John Wayne Hill, a seasoned product designer with over 15 years of experience, is the creative force behind Design Is Hard. Previously a Director-level IC at Twitter, John Wayne has a proven track record of challenging the status quo and pushing for innovation. His collaborative spirit extends to working with fellow designers, engineers, product managers, data analysts, and researchers, fostering a team-oriented environment. View Portfolio and Experience.