I never anticipated that I would be as pro-agile as I am. In the past I believed my value was in creating entire experiences for website and applications in which I spent months creating extensive deliverables that may or may not be used in the final development process. Now, rather than trying to plan for every possible edge case up-front, in agile I’m able to focus on the amount of work it will take to get to a minimal viable product.
Instead of planning for the extensive world of the Lego Pirates, the goal of my mental model is to focus on developing the best Lego brick possible with immediate input from the development team. By keeping the scope of the project focused, the team can move faster and more efficiently. And if we run into a roadblock, we can fail faster and sooner rather than when it is too late.
This means it is to my advantage to embed with a scrum team. As the team is planning stories for the backlog and coding, I sit with them and participate in their agile ceremonies. Offering insights and input from the UX perspective, feedback from stakeholders, or being the voice of the end-user, I bring value to the team by providing real-time support. And in turn, the team is available to provide feedback to me. It is not uncommon for a developer or two and I to grab white-board markers and start working out a solution on the white wall around us.
We’re working faster and smarter together.
Be the Beam Holder
Recently, I read an interesting article on the idea of “beam holders” and I found that the concept resonates strongly with me professionally. As workers, we often pigeon hole ourselves to specific roles and certain types of work, not looking beyond ourselves to be of greater service to an organization. A beam holder is someone who assesses the greater needs of the organization and is able to pitch in to help where needed, not being limited to pre-defined roles. Fundamentally, I am a beam holder. While my expertise and experience is in user experience (information architect, UX strategist, user experience design, content strategist), I can also transition to the role of product manager, scrum master, and even quality assurance assistant as is needed. And that’s the role of the beam holder; to look beyond a predefined role and adapt to the need within the organization.