The No Handoff Manifesto

I love Agile. It excels at managing risk and is an effective way to get complex work done. Agile makes our work better. However, Agile methods carry a major flaw: they assume a validated project vision but don’t 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 a single sprint is not long enough, and the process is weaker when not incorporating the whole team. We can do better!

No-handoff builds on a rich body of Agile insights, tools and methods, 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 I’ve 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 development are inextricably intertwined.
  • Teams should communicate as often as possible in the shared language of product: functional code.

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. It’s the ultimate shared language. Leverage it’s power to communicate across disciplines and stakeholder groups.
  2. Use dual-track agile to link discovery and development and work in parallel through incremental stages.
  3. Words hold power to integrate or fragment teams. Speak in language that is jargon free, explain acronyms, and always tie your ideas to the human user experience.
  4. Teams should be representative of all disciplines involved.
  5. Treat user experience as a verb, not a noun. It is the glue that binds all disciplines and team members together. UX team members discover and disseminate user insights, but it is everyone’s responsibility to absorb these insights and keep the focus on the end user.

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 and gaining buy-in from stakeholders, 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 a design period with a handoff it has definitely failed. Try again!

I hope no-handoff helps you further integrate your teams. You can find introductory articles here about what no-handoff is and how dual track agile helps.