What is Lean UX – part 1
avatarViviane Samson
June 1, 2022

« Any business of scale (or any business that seeks to scale) is, like it or not, in the software business. » - Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, in their book Lean UX : Designing Great Products with Agile Teams

While almost every business is, to some degree, a digital business, very few are organized to perform as such.


Think of any business. Your local coffee shop chain, for example. Just to work normally, the chain will need a website and possibly an e-commerce. It’ll also need a point-of-sale software and some management software. Oof! Even in a company that isn’t specialized at all in technologies, there’s a need to use digital products.

Ok, maybe for our coffee shop, the existing softwares will be sufficient and the desire to develop this skill internally and innovate won’t be a priority. Despite everything, the company will have to develop some know-how to remain flexible and attentive to updates and technological innovations.

For other companies though, what already exists is insufficient or doesn’t take their particularities into account. The need to develop tailor-made and innovative solutions then becomes essential to their business. In both cases, the evidence is that it’s necessary to develop a minimum of digital capabilities internally. It's a question of survival!

Then comes the exponential speed of the world: to be competitive, your business (even a coffee shop chain) has no choice but to keep pace. We can no longer consider technologies as separate, but neither can we see them as fixed objects: everything is dynamic and systems must evolve and be continuously maintained.

« We’re not building cars. Our medium is software, and our products and services are complex and unpredictable. They don’t have an end state. » - Jeff Gothelf & Josh Seiden

How do we answer the challenges of this decidedly digital world?

According to Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, digital products designers and authors, the answer exists and it’s called Lean UX.

the answer exists !!!
Another revolutionary work management tool?

Yes and no… but yes. If you’re familiar with other Agile or Lean methodologies, you may notice they share several similarities, especially in their central purpose (and we invite you to observe similarities and differences with other methods you’re familiar with).

What you need to know is that Lean UX is a project management tool that’s optimized for digital transformation and startups. That said, we’re confident that Lean UX can benefit any business types, no matter where they’re at in their digital journey.

Lean UX : Designing Great Products with Agile Teams
livre lean UX

Arrived in 2013, the book Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams is already at its third edition (and we recommend it). Which shows the authors are not kidding when they say a product is never done. This approach is inspired by human-centered design, a way of thinking strongly rooted in user experience design (UX) and in Agile philosophy. In Lean UX, it’s argued that solution to modern business problems lies in our ability to:

  1. develop our empathy for users;
  2. work from experimentation, learning and continuous improvement perspective;
  3. think in terms of outcomes, not outputs.

Quite universal concepts, isn’t it? 😁 Here’s some more information to help you develop these capacities in your business…

Developing empathy

Empathy is our ability to understand others emotions and experiences, but it’s also the heart of human-centered design. For UX designers, it's more than a value or an ability: it's a tool. All research and test tools are carefully chosen to help the designer develop his empathy for targeted users. This is how he manages to find solutions that are really valuable and are adopted by users. By comparison, a UX designer without access to users is kind of blind.

L’empathie !

In Lean UX, we bring forward this way of doing things specific to designers: what is good for designers is good for everyone! Empathy becomes an ability to acquire as a team. By sharing this responsibility between each team member, we break the idea of having a single "keeper of empathy" and promote the idea of a work climate where everyone is on the same page about objectives, needs and constraints. In the end, it limits the chances of being blind to the interests of users, which obviously boosts the chances of success of projects.


Building user empathy across your team means learning to collaborate. Direct collaboration with colleagues makes it possible to develop an in-depth understanding quickly and in a fun way. Whether it’s through discussions, virtual exchanges or co-creation workshops, it’s important that you find a way to exchange together and ensure that everyone’s on the same page. Bonus point: you won’t have to write heavy documentation that consumes all your time and vital energy.

Collaboration !

Consequently, in a Lean UX company, it’s important to create a climate of healthy collaboration: to have opportunities to socialize, to value exchanges and discussions between everyone, to be transparent and open-minded (destroys silos!) and doing retrospectives are some ways to do this. We mustn’t neglect the importance of adapted communication tools (think of people that work from home).

Develop your empathy through diversity

The other aspect that Lean UX puts forward to develop your empathy towards users is to integrate diversity into teams. Diversity is understood in the identity sense of the thing, but you have to consider all its facets. Among other things, we seek the diversity of knowledge and experience within the teams and are therefore looking for people with skills and backgrounds that are as varied as they are complementary.

La diversité à l’équipe !
Skills over positions

It is not by chance that we talk about “skills” and not “positions”. Think about it: no matter what your colleagues' official role is, you've probably found out that everyone has a variety of related skills. that can be of great use in certain situations : use them! Or better yet, encourage your colleagues to develop other skills by scheduling time for it every week or so.

Another tip to promote exchange and collaboration is to minimize the feeling of hierarchy and silos. It’s essential for your team to have enough freedom to have impact and perform to their full potential. This requires a climate of trust between management and employees and space to discuss, experiment and learn together.

When you have a diverse team, make sure everyone's contribution is considered. The goal, after all, is to harness this valuable diversity. Thus, the point of view of the devs, for example, shouldn’t be relegated to the end of the project. It’s by exploring as many angles as possible that we’ll get closer to a 360 ̊ understanding of the constraints and possibilities of a project. Are you beginning to see how you could boost empathy in your business? 😉


The most used tool to schematize our knowledge of users is certainly the persona. Although this technique is often criticized, we believe that a well-made persona can be an important ally. When we say “well made”, we’re talking about the importance of improving personas, with each discovery we make about our users through the project. Humans are dynamic, their habits and reactions are not fixed. So why should our personas be static?

These two resources will help you improve your personas : persona dynamic persona

This brings us to the last essential capacity: that of experimenting and continually improving. We talk about it in detail in the second part of this article. 🙂

Read it here!

avatarViviane Samson
June 1, 2022
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