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Lean UX Around the World

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October 2, 2015

We did it again: on Tuesday September 22, MURAL partnered with Jeff Gothelf, author of Lean UX, to run a live, remote version of his Lean UX workshop. See the summary of our first and second sessions in previous posts.

This time around we had four volunteers to participate in the hands-on portion of the workshop. They were literally around the world:

  • ANDREW was in Hawaii (GMT +11)
  • MATT called in from California (GMT +8)
  • JEFF and JIM were in NYC (GMT +5)
  • FRANCK called from France (GMT -1)
  • MELISSA joined in Thailand (GMT -9)

The sun hadn't come up on Hawaii for Andrew when we started (4:30 am for him), and it was close to midnight when we finished for Melissa.

world map


One big change this time around was pre-workshop call. The team met a few days before the event to introduce themselves and go over logistics. They were also assigned some readings in advance, including a video.

Here are the resources they reviewed in advance of the workshop - all by Jeff Gothelf:

And this video:


We were able to get through the entire first part of Jeff's Lean UX curriculum. The workshop has five sections. First, we identified the business objectives (step 1), which the team voted on to reach consensus using the voting feature built into MURAL.


Next, the team created personas (step 2). After that, they brainstormed user needs (step 3) that should be met, and finally features (step 4) to address those needs.

Finally, the team generated hypothesis statements (step 5).


The color coding on the mural helped guide the activities. Here is what the final mural looked like once all of the steps were completed:

lean ux mural


We got some good questions during and after the workshop. Here are few highlights:

QUESTION: How would Lean UX work with clients (+ external development teams) thrown into the mix when it comes to developing the product?

JEFF'S ANSWER: As I mentioned at the end of the call, set expectations early about how your company works, what you sell (time, not features) and what the client should expect from an engagement with you (collaboration and participation, not outsourcing).

Offer to take a portion of the budget and allocate for learning (~10%). Use that learning to drive decisions on what will be built and how it will be designed. Ensure research is a part of the cycle — every sprint.

Never agree to fixed time AND scope. It’s a lie. The inception exercises help illustrate the power of customer development and assumptions. use that to prove that there is a lot we really don’t know about the work.

QUESTION: Cross-functional teams are the backbone to Lean, but with clients, most times that's not within your control (e.g. external dev teams, client-side copywriter). What's the best way to handle that situation?

JEFF'S ANSWER: Sure it is. You provide certain disciplines. They provide others. We work together on the project. The key is to get those folks dedicated to your project — which is hard. Explain the drawbacks of team mates not embedded with the team and note how that could impact reviews, decision making and progress.

QUESTION: Its interesting to watch a team start from scratch building out proto-personas and identify business outcomes. Jeff said that business outcomes are typically chosen for teams... For Jeff: how typical/valuable of a team activity is creating proto-persona's, aren't personas assumptions as well? might this be handed to teams as an organization matures?

JEFF'S ANSWER: Yes, personas might already be in place. You'll have existing data and personas that may be handed to you. Still go through this exercise to get new assumptions out and to refresh the persona. It may be a lot quicker than in our workshop -- that's fine. Still do the step.


Overall, the session wen very smoothly. One participant said:

"I just wanted to say thanks to everybody. I think it probably went as smoothly as it could given the circumstances. And Jeff, thanks for helping guide us through the exercises. I definitely learned a lot (you can only read about things so much without getting experience putting them into practice under the guidance of a master)."

Others said:

"Having Jeff lead the process through the exercises was really helpful and immersive. Thanks so much for selecting me to be a part of it!"

"I definitely found the workshop valuable"

We'd like to thank Jeff for running the event and guiding the team through his workshop.

Watch this space for further updates on future events. If you have any questions or comments, contact Jim at

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