Lean Methodologies Promote Velocity at the Expense of Understanding

Design and product development methodologies like Lean are biased toward delivery. They're intended to limit waste and drive efficiency through "just in time" delivery of minimum viable solutions. This approach is intended to rapidly gather feedback from the market in order to drive continuous iteration on the product.

Yet, this rapid pace means that decisions may be made without crucial information. Erika Hall argues that Lean methodologies are often used to promote velocity without providing the time necessary for contemplation and critique, or consideration of longer-term implications of a release. The consequences may not be fully considered.

For Hall, this has ethical implications; even if the solution is "user-centric"—that is, it enables the user to efficiently perform some action—it may not be "value-centric." That is, it may enable or even promote actions or behaviours that are contrary to the best interests of the user or society more generally.

Making good decision decisions, Hall says, means assessing the impact of design and business on people and planet. This means considering qualitative measures of value beyond "sleight-of-hand" techniques like NPS.



Hall, Erika. “Thinking in Triplicate.” Medium, April 30, 2020. https://medium.com/mule-design/a-three-part-plan-to-save-the-world-98653a20a12f.