Agile methodologies have their limitations in terms of understanding problems and finding solutions and can lead organizations to promote products that are not well-designed and produce waste. Some authors recommend combing agile techniques with methods that focus on discovery to address this problem, with two of the best candidates including User-Centered Design (UCD) and Lean Startup, a combination of which, as of yet, there is no well-documented, thorough research study of how it works.


To define a development strategy that combines software application developer UCD, and Lean Startup; exposing how the three methodologies are interspersed in one development cycle and their impact on the development.


We carried out a case study of two software development teams from industry who employ this combination approach and conducted interviews, observations of focus groups, interviews, and a workshop over the period of nine months during which they were housed in a custom-built lab for development.


The teams consist of users advocates, business advocates and solution developers; Their approach to development emphasizes the use of experimentation, making extensive use of the build-measure-learn cycle. The combination approach encourages an attitude of problem-solving and encourages team members to work in tandem and be involved throughout the process of development, constantly determining the needs of stakeholders and ways to meet their needs. Each approach makes an unique contribution towards the overall development cycle: UCD fosters empathy with people who are involved and allows teams to better comprehend the issue they have to solve; Lean Startup introduces experimentation as the primary driver of development as well as Extreme Programming (the teams agile approach) assists in the process of experimenting and attaining technical excellence.


The approach combined forces teams to be more thoughtful throughout the development process. The example we have used provides an the essentials of this approach and may inspire practitioners in industry to develop a similar method based on the same fundamentals.