Why This Book?

Over the past two years the authors, an Agile Coach and a Designer, have worked together to successfully integrate the Human-Centered Design competency into multiple mature Agile programs at a large government agency. We learned that the results can be stunning, but that the integration can be more difficult than one might think it should be.

First, there’s the whole mindset issue. HCD practitioners are used to spending most of their time in the problem space—getting to know users, their needs, and their preferences while Agilists are used to spending time mostly in the solution space—building small pieces of functionality, getting user feedback, then iterating on that feedback. There’s just some friction at first.

Next is the planning issue. HCD practitioners do work that might not all be consumed in the current Sprint. This freaks out Agilists, who give us lectures about WIP, Deming, and Little’s Law. Some HCD work needs to be planned just a little ahead of other work, and teams need a mechanism to visualize and roadmap this work.

Finally, programs must decide on the HCD team topology that would work best in their uniquely constrained situation. Through trial and error we found, counterintuitively, that having a centralized shared-services style HCD team at Program level works best, and that that team can mentor and grow team-level staff to bring these skills to individual teams.

This book is the result of our trial and errors and will show that you can (and should!) practice Human-Centered Agile.

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