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UX In a Distributed Agile Environment:
Making it Work
Krys Blackwood and Lea Cuniberti-Duran!
Times, they’re a-changin’
•  46% companies report they have teams distributed
across 2 or more locations!
•  3.2 million t...
Picture of a Modern Team
•  3 locations: West Coast US, East Coast US, China!
•  PMs in CA & China, Engineers in MA & Chin...
It’s Complicated
•  Company acquisition led to some defensiveness,
divided loyalties and insecurity!
•  Culture of blame a...
This Was Not Our First Rodeo
Photo Source: http://mypetgroundhog.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-selfish-rodeo-clown-learns-lesson...
Transparency!
Collaboration!
Communication!
The Elements of
Successful Agile Teams
Clear
definition !
of success!
Starting to Climb
•  Our first approach:
communication!
•  Tried reaching out: this was
seen as too aggressive!
•  Engineer...
Scrum Master is Your Bestie
•  Scrum master had a great relationship with the devs
and QA!
•  We spoke with the scrum mast...
How about Instant Messaging?
•  It’s instantaneous!
•  They were already comfortable
using it amongst themselves!
•  They ...
Us Them&
Lesson 1
Relationship building takes time
•  Attend every scrum!
•  Remind engineers that we’re here, and what we’re
worki...
Gentle and Supportive
•  Relentlessly nonjudgmental!
•  Constantly reminding that blame doesn’t matter!
•  Encouraged alte...
Slowly but Surely
•  No surprise: Each person had
their own communication
preferences!
•  Ended up customizing protocol
fo...
Lesson 2
Ask for Help
•  After months of hard work, we asked our leadership
for help!
•  Senior VPs provided support & gui...
•  Workshop Kickoff & Goal agreement!
•  “5 Dysfunctions of a Team”!
http://www.tablegroup.com/books/dysfunctions!
•  Team...
5 Dysfunctions
•  “Servant Leadership”!
https://greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/!
•  Holding Efficient Meetings!
•  Why Agile: pu...
Working Agreement
•  No blame!
•  Hierarchy of communication methods!
•  Involve all team roles in all stages - even if it...
Sea Change
Photo credit: http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2013/sep/11/pacific-ocean-perilous-turn-overview/!
Lesson 3
It’s About the Users
•  Involved engineers & QA in test design!
•  Invited engineers & QA to observe usability
se...
•  Popularized by Cooper Design Blog !
http://www.cooper.com/journal/2014/05/persona-empathy-mapping!
•  Engages the team ...
•  Jen had baby Jonah 4 months ago and didn’t
realized that her and her husband had to add him
to their medical plan. Now ...
http://www.cooper.com/journal/2014/05/persona-empathy-mapping!
•  Visual representation of the end to end steps
involved in a customer experience: from first
contact to purchasing and cu...
•  Jen worries about her mom’s finances. She has
been delaying a visit and Jen learns that the reason
is about money. Jen l...
Actions
Environment
Goals
Thoughts and Feelings
Touch Points and Channels
!
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5
Photo credit: http://pvop.org/event/2014/8/11/it-gets-better!
The Moral of The Story
•  Lesson 1: Relationship building
takes time!
Be persistent, be supportive,
be transparent!
•  Les...
Questions?
T H A N K Y O U !
@lea_designer
lea.posta@gmail.com
@shodoshan
shodoshan@gmail.com
UX In a Distributed Agile Environment: Making It Work - Krys Blackwood and Lea Cuniberti-Duran
UX In a Distributed Agile Environment: Making It Work - Krys Blackwood and Lea Cuniberti-Duran
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UX In a Distributed Agile Environment: Making It Work - Krys Blackwood and Lea Cuniberti-Duran

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Agile and scrum processes rely on constant communication between product, design and development teams. But what happens when your team is spread across three time zones, with three different cultures and two different languages? When a team is not working well together, the product suffers and the users suffer as a result. We’ll present our own case study and share parallels from other companies, then share with you what worked and what didn’t as we navigated the wilds of distributed agile. Most importantly, we’ll share the key shift to our approach that made the pivotal difference.

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UX In a Distributed Agile Environment: Making It Work - Krys Blackwood and Lea Cuniberti-Duran

  1. 1. UX In a Distributed Agile Environment: Making it Work Krys Blackwood and Lea Cuniberti-Duran!
  2. 2. Times, they’re a-changin’ •  46% companies report they have teams distributed across 2 or more locations! •  3.2 million teleworkers in US! •  Projections: 4.9 million by 2016! •  77% of companies >2500 allow telecommuting! How about your company?!
  3. 3. Picture of a Modern Team •  3 locations: West Coast US, East Coast US, China! •  PMs in CA & China, Engineers in MA & China, Designers in CA & MA! •  2 languages - English and Mandarin! •  3 cultures - West Coast, East Coast and Chinese !
  4. 4. It’s Complicated •  Company acquisition led to some defensiveness, divided loyalties and insecurity! •  Culture of blame and CYA! •  Engineers and QA new to Agile, still uncomfortable! Does this sound familiar? !
  5. 5. This Was Not Our First Rodeo Photo Source: http://mypetgroundhog.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-selfish-rodeo-clown-learns-lesson.html
  6. 6. Transparency! Collaboration! Communication! The Elements of Successful Agile Teams Clear definition ! of success!
  7. 7. Starting to Climb •  Our first approach: communication! •  Tried reaching out: this was seen as too aggressive! •  Engineers were uncomfortable having phone conversations ! •  Emphasized video chat to let them get to know us as people, time zones got in the way! •  Preferred method: Email!
  8. 8. Scrum Master is Your Bestie •  Scrum master had a great relationship with the devs and QA! •  We spoke with the scrum master 2-3 times per day! •  Bribery is valid: Baked cookies and brought treats from the garden! •  When we weren’t getting responses and time was the issue, had him act as a go-between !
  9. 9. How about Instant Messaging? •  It’s instantaneous! •  They were already comfortable using it amongst themselves! •  They were reluctant to “let us in” to their circles!
  10. 10. Us Them&
  11. 11. Lesson 1 Relationship building takes time •  Attend every scrum! •  Remind engineers that we’re here, and what we’re working on! •  Afterward, proactively reach out to engineers or qa via email! •  Agreed to core hours for IM and email, plus reachable 24/7! •  Cell phones in email signatures!
  12. 12. Gentle and Supportive •  Relentlessly nonjudgmental! •  Constantly reminding that blame doesn’t matter! •  Encouraged alternative proposals! •  Solicited and accepted criticism!
  13. 13. Slowly but Surely •  No surprise: Each person had their own communication preferences! •  Ended up customizing protocol for each of 15 people! •  But not enough: Progress and projects were slow! Photo credit: http://embodyheartandmind.com/balance/wp-content/ uploads/2014/03/turtle.jpg!
  14. 14. Lesson 2 Ask for Help •  After months of hard work, we asked our leadership for help! •  Senior VPs provided support & guidance! •  Summit with all locations in one place!
  15. 15. •  Workshop Kickoff & Goal agreement! •  “5 Dysfunctions of a Team”! http://www.tablegroup.com/books/dysfunctions! •  Team Communication! •  Puts & Takes! •  Prioritization! •  Roadmap Methods! Team Summit Agenda: Day 1
  16. 16. 5 Dysfunctions
  17. 17. •  “Servant Leadership”! https://greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/! •  Holding Efficient Meetings! •  Why Agile: purpose and value of things in scrum! •  Roles in the Scrum team! •  Writing user stories! •  Team Metrics! Team Summit Agenda: Day 2
  18. 18. Working Agreement •  No blame! •  Hierarchy of communication methods! •  Involve all team roles in all stages - even if it’s just to see what’s coming! •  Celebrate wins! •  Provide context for all requests! •  Plan collectively, as a team! •  Switch to Kanban! •  24 hour service agreement! Team Summit Agenda: Day 3
  19. 19. Sea Change Photo credit: http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2013/sep/11/pacific-ocean-perilous-turn-overview/!
  20. 20. Lesson 3 It’s About the Users •  Involved engineers & QA in test design! •  Invited engineers & QA to observe usability sessions! •  Showed them quant & qual results of their work ! •  Persona empathy workshops! •  Customer journey mapping!
  21. 21. •  Popularized by Cooper Design Blog ! http://www.cooper.com/journal/2014/05/persona-empathy-mapping! •  Engages the team in user-centric thinking! •  Shows the motivations behind the user actions! •  Helps internalize the user experience! •  Builds understanding and empathy toward the user! Persona Empathy Mapping
  22. 22. •  Jen had baby Jonah 4 months ago and didn’t realized that her and her husband had to add him to their medical plan. Now it is too late and the baby is without insurance.! •  Baby Jonah develops a fever. Jen doesn’t know if it is because of teething or something more serious and she should take him to urgent care.! Sample Scenarios
  23. 23. http://www.cooper.com/journal/2014/05/persona-empathy-mapping!
  24. 24. •  Visual representation of the end to end steps involved in a customer experience: from first contact to purchasing and customer after-care! •  Mapped on a timeline! •  Tracks feelings, thoughts, emotions, actions & goals + channels & touch points! •  The goal is for the team to share the experience of our users. ! Customer Journey Mapping
  25. 25. •  Jen worries about her mom’s finances. She has been delaying a visit and Jen learns that the reason is about money. Jen learns, her mom is spending over $200 in Rx drugs copay each month a sizable chunk of her social security check. Jen decides to help her mom and start researching plans that offer better coverage.! Sample Scenario
  26. 26. Actions Environment Goals Thoughts and Feelings Touch Points and Channels ! Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5
  27. 27. Photo credit: http://pvop.org/event/2014/8/11/it-gets-better!
  28. 28. The Moral of The Story •  Lesson 1: Relationship building takes time! Be persistent, be supportive, be transparent! •  Lesson 2: Ask for help! It’s not a failure, it’s getting the whole company aligned! •  Lesson 3: Make it about the users! They’re the one thing we’re guaranteed to have in common! Photo credit: http://www.uneed2knowthis.uk/blog-uneed2knowthis-uk/ help-to-climb-mountain/!
  29. 29. Questions?
  30. 30. T H A N K Y O U ! @lea_designer lea.posta@gmail.com @shodoshan shodoshan@gmail.com

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