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A day in life of an AgileUX Practitioner: Vision

Posted by jc-Qualitystreet on 2011/03/04

Activity #1 of the Agile UX practitioner…

The Agile UX practitioner helps to define the product Vision

Agile or not, the Vision is crucial

At an organization level, the vision helps to appreciate and believe in the company. On a daily basis, and from a team and employee point of view, it’s a good way to create meaning in work.

One product, One Vision…

Front

Any product...

At any product is necessarily associated with a Vision, setting the course, giving meaning and describing what is envisioned for the product in the short, medium or long term. The product Vision and the Personas form the foundations of the entire user experience of the product (Strategy element).Vision is also the highest level of agile planning (Daily-> Sprint -> Release -> Roadmap -> Vision)

“Fits in a shirt pocket, syncs seamlessly With PC, fast and easy to use, No more than $ 299 “…

like the vision of Hawkins for the Palm Pilot, the product vision is often short, goals driven and related to a problem.

But to be meaningful, effective and to federate individuals around it, the product vision must be shared with the team. In Scrum, that is the job of the Product Owner, and that should be completed before the team starts working its first sprint.

Building and sharing the product vision is a huge challenge for the Product Owner. And the Agile UX practitioner has an important role to play (as a workshop facilitator or input provider based on user research) to help him in such difficult task. Again, collaboration is the key and the most effective techniques to define and share the vision are collaborative. Here is a focus on the main activities and facilitation techniques I use during the Vision workshops with my clients.

PRODUCT VISION BOX (my favorite)

From Highsmith (2004). The “Product Vision Box” is a very appropriate technique when starting a project to create the vision and share it with the team responsible to design the product (and why not, those in charge of the sale).

One product = One Vision = One Product Vision Box

The all team creates a visual, concrete image of the software, product or service which it is supposed to develop. They build together their own product vision BOX. So, the final result is always a single box, although in the context of the workshop, several intermediate boxes can be created by sub-groups.

This final box is built collectively in the consensus and collaboration. It represents the shared vision, and includes the following elements:

  • Front: Name - Picture or drawing (if possible) - Slogan - 3 / 4 Bullets arguments for Sale
  • Back: A more detailed view with more functionality, the pre-requisites …

The workshop has a playful side. It promotes discussions, collaboration and requires participants to go straight to the point and set priorities.

FRONT

Front

Front: Product Vision Box of this blog!

BACK

Back

Back: Product Vision Box of this blog!

PRODUCT BOX (the most UX)

From Hohmann (2006). The Product box is one of the most useful and popular “innovation games”. The technique is both very close to the previous format and different (due to its strong “UX” connotation”). With the product box we really have the VOICE of THE CUSTOMER.

One Product = n Visions = n Boxes

Product Boxes...

Product Boxes...

The “Product Box” workshop is above all customer-oriented. Its purpose is to collect the maximum users’ feedbacks about an existing product. So users are invited to participate to the “game”: designing the box that they would buy, and then to imagining that they’re selling the product at a trade show or at the supermarket (represented by the facilitator and the other customers).

The cereal box is a good example to introduce the game to the participants.

Example of a cereal box

Example of a cereal box

Customers can work individually or form sub-groups (3 persons). The box (the customer vision) includes the same elements as above (and more …)

  • Front: Name - Picture or drawing (if possible) - Slogan - 3 / 4 Bullets arguments for Sale
  • Back: View more detailed with more functionality, the pre-requisites…

The “Product box” technique is highly relevant to innovation. It is very useful in view of improving the product, or to explore and collect users’ needs. My objective as a facilitator is to get the maximum of boxes, even if at the end of the workshops, an important work of analysis has to be planned.

How does it work?

  • 40 minutes to design the box (individually or in groups of 3 persons)
  • And 5 minutes by box to sell it to other groups or individuals.

The Product box can guide a final vision by drawing what customers want, how they envision the product, what they expect, what they find most interesting, what they focus on, and also what arguments they use to sell it. If I took the example of my blog , I would invite 16 passionate readers of agile-ux a Saturday afternoon, to create several AgileUX Vision boxes and sell it to the others… :)

Vision Statement (a must!)

From Moore (1991). It is also called “the statement of position” or “Elevator Pitch”. Actually it’s a formula to pass the famous elevator test (explain your product in the time it takes to ride up in an elevator).

The model is really efficient: I use it consistently with my clients. It is a precious facilitation tool useful to explore, create and share a product vision.

The Vision formula applied... On the wall, with the team, from the beginning to the end of the project

The Vision formula applied... On the wall, with the team, from the beginning to the end of the project

The vision statement is structured into 6 sections that summarize in less than two minutes (elevator pitch)  the vision of the product.

FOR (target for the product)

WHO (users’ needs)

OUR PRODUCT IS (the product category)

THAT (major benefit, key functionalities)

UNLIKE (current practice, competition)

OUR PRODUCT (major differentiator)

A two-column presentation is a good practice but a linear version (elevator pitch format) works well too…

  • Vin D'Amico said,

    Very cool idea! Employ marketing techniques to improve software development. Why not?

    Vision statements are often missing in software projects. Arguments take place simply because there is no vision of what the final product will be. It will be argued that creating a vision for the final deliverable is difficult but surely the team can define high-level goals. If they can’t, perhaps they’re not ready to begin the software development effort.

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