Design Thinking and Agile – complimentary and powerful 

We’ll first describe what Design Thinking and Agile are for those who are less familiar with the terms, and discuss shortcomings of the two, then we’ll explain how combining the two provides the best of both worlds.
Design in its most effective form is a process, an action, a verb not a noun. A protocol for solving problems and discovering new opportunities.
Design thinking is strategy for product design that avoids the mistakes of extrapolating future customers wants based on past data or defining a strategy based on instinct instead of evidence.
In Design Thinking we shift the focus to human behavior.
Design thinking consists of five key elements: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test – read more here.
While Design Thinking provides a robust creative innovative process it doesn’t necessarily address actual product development limitations and requirements from an organizational perspective. Thus theoretically we can iterate through the 5 steps with little involvement from the engineering, product development and operational units. We might segregate and silo the design – 5 step process and end with a lengthy requirement document that feeds to a linear approach such as waterfall for the actual development. Otherwise we can view the Design Thinking process as a sequential process in itself and superimpose it on our existing development methodology, encumbering the creative innovative process with a procedural governing methodology. We end up with product iterations that are 9 months long which are detrimental to fast feedback loops.

Agile Development is an umbrella term for several iterative and incremental development processes that accelerate the delivery of initial business value. Through a process of continuous planning and feedback we are able to ensure that value is continuing to be maximized throughout the development process.  The most popular include Extreme Programming (XP), Scrum, Scaled Agile, Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Lean Development, and Feature-Driven Development (FDD). Agile methods are those that follow the Agile Manifesto and Agile principles. read more here:
While Agile provides a paradigm shift in how products are delivered, it doesn’t necessarily address the challenge of what to deliver. The product backlog which is a common artifact in many Agile processes is populated by an invisible process outside the product organization. Practically many Agile transformations do not address new product and strategy initiation at all. Thus we can be very efficient using an Agile process and yet remain ineffective.
It is not uncommon that users use less than 20-30% of the product features. See more here:
This results in 70-80% of the development effort being a waste. Imagine – for every 100 engineers we have in a company – 70 are doing wasteful work. Thus, being Agile might mean producing waste quicker.
Coupling of Agile and Design Thinking

Design Thinking with Agile – balance exploration and exploitation – searching and shipping
Design Thinking as a guiding process, a culture of innovation
Agile for rapid product development

Teach the business and design teams, the Agile concepts to enable effective product development
Teach product and development teams, Design Thinking to instill innovation and creativity

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