What’s the difference between agile and lean UX?

Giff Constable lean

On Quora, Jared Spool asked the question “What’s the difference between Agile Development & Lean UX?” There are a number of interesting responses. Here is mine:

Agile dev and UX already focuses on rapid cycle times, constant collaboration, staying user-focused and continuous delivery of valuable software.

Unfortunately too often, the definition of valuable gets muddied (or worse, is abdicated altogether if design and/or tech becomes “order takers” to the business).

Lean’s insight is to turn things into results-oriented experiments, and by things, I mean every important assumption and risk. And when you are creating something new, whether startup or enterprise, you inevitably have a lot of assumptions. The team ideally levels up from thinking about silo-ed roles to all being product owners, and ideally all thinking like business owners.

Lean also helps teams escape thinking purely in terms of product. Once you set your goal as quickly validating or invalidating critical hypotheses, rather than building features, it frees you up to do all sorts of creative tests that might be digital or analog, online or offline.

Lean doesn’t let you get lost in process at the expense of important outcomes, and it forces the business leg of the tripod to join the agile party.