I attended the Scrum Guide 2020 Update event that also celebrated its 25th anniversary. And while this new edition intends to provide more focus, be simpler, and be more inclusive — recognizing that Scrum is widely used outside the software development world — some choices might be counterproductive and even scare designers away. Here are my two takeaways:
The Product Goal Gives Focus And A Long-Term Commitment
The Product Goal is a great addition to the Scrum guide, as it will force teams to stay focused on a long-term vision — whether they’re creating a physical product or a service. This is the why behind the what. And this is where user researchers and experience designers have a strategic role to play to help product owners assess, as teams iterate, if the long-term goal they’re aiming for is still relevant and fulfilling customers’ needs or if they need to course-correct.
With a well-defined Product Goal, there’s a vision that is shared by all team members and serves as a foundation for everything they commit to do. This should nudge the teams that are wrongly evaluating their success solely on velocity to reconsider success metrics and focus on what matters: delivering value to the end user.
Designers, User Experience Researchers, And Data Scientists Are All Developers In The Scrum Guide
Up to the 2017s edition, the Scrum team consisted of a Product Owner, a Scrum Master, and a Development Team. I was expecting a more inclusive 2020s edition to remove the term “Development” and keep “Team.” That would have been a great step aside to distance the framework from a terminology that has too many software connotations. Sadly, instead, in the Scrum Guide 2020 edition, designers, user researchers, and other specialists like data scientists, business analysts, or content strategists are all “Developers.”
The creators of Scrum explain that their intent here is to be more inclusive. The term developers is not meant as software developers but rather as individuals participating in the creation — the development — of something. Indeed, the term is also found in different contexts, such as business development, property development, or educational curriculum development. But it might require too much of an effort to see past the software connotation for professionals who already struggle to adapt their practice to agile frameworks like Scrum.
Team Collaboration Toward A Shared Goal Is Key To Delivering Good Experiences
The Product Goal is a great addition for agile teams to keep in mind the big picture behind their sprints’ cycles. Defining the Product Goal and continuously assessing its alignment to customers’ needs is an opportunity for designers and user researchers to be involved at a strategic level. And despite a poor choice of term to rename the Development Team, a clear Product Goal will help multidisciplinary teams stay aligned and focused toward a shared goal, which is key for collaboration.
The collaboration between designers and agile teams is the core topic of my report “Agile And Design Teams: Better Together.” Forrester clients interested in overcoming the common challenges and finding grounds to foster a fruitful collaboration can access the full report, join the upcoming webinar, or get in touch with me via our inquiry system.