The no-handoff manifesto

I love Agile with a love that is true. Its a brilliant collection of ideas, excels at managing risk, and is a very effective way to get complex work done. Agile makes our lives better. However most Agile methods have one major flaw: they assume a validated project vision, but dont tell us how to get there.

Creative processes are usually better equipped to handle unknowns and run discovery than deployment processes so this critical step often defaults to a “design sprint” or similar. But the process is weaker when not incorporating the whole team. We can do better! The lack of specific methods addressing this issue motivated me to develop the no-handoff agile method. You can find introductory articles here about what no-handoff is and how UX and development can use no-handoff to work in parallel.

No-handoff builds on a hugely rich body of Agile insights, tools and methods but with the specific goal of eliminating project handoff between disciplines – especially from designers to developers. Inspired by the Agile Manifesto, to further elucidate it’s purpose and benefits, Ive written a manifesto for no-handoff:

The No-Handoff Manifesto

We are on a quest to better integrate multi-disciplinary teams and eliminate project handoff through soul searching and practical application. Through this work the following primary values have arisen:

  • Integrated thinking leads to integrated teams.
  • The end user experience is everybody’s business.
  • Discovery and deployment are inescapable and intertwined.
  • Teams should primarily communicate in the language of the web: functional prototypes.

The following have proven to be the most effective practices for agile teams implementing the no-handoff method:

  1. Use a working prototype from day one to record, demonstrate, and validate ideas. It’s the ultimate shared language of the web. Leverage its power to communicate across your entire team.
  2. Demonstrate shared project goals in the prototype. It is the living, breathing encapsulation of the team’s best thinking.
  3. Use dual-track agile to link discovery and deployment and work in parallel through incremental stages.
  4. Words hold power to integrate or fragment teams. Speak in language that is jargon free and directly addresses user experience.
  5. Related to the above – but worth its own line – eliminate the word ‘design’ from your vocabulary. It can alienate those outside the fold and doesnt communicate actionable information.
  6. All team members from all disciplines meet regularly to discuss the project. This, in turn, means that teams must be representative of all disciplines.
  7. User experience is treated like a verb, not a noun. It is the glue that binds all disciplines and team members together. Instead of a UX team or an expert no-handoff projects have “UX guardians”. In addition to gathering and disseminating information, they leverage their expertise to keep the entire team focused on the end user at every stage.

How do you know if it’s working? Development is complicated, no-handoff projects can be messy, and there are many threads to keep track of. But if your prototype is meeting user needs, as validated by user testing, then it’s working.

How do you know if it’s not working? If the prototype consistently fails to meet the defined user needs then it’s not working. If the project reverts to handoff then it’s epicly failed. Play again.

I hope no-handoff helps you further integrate your teams. Reach out with feedback, and have fun!