What Is Participatory Design? Participatory Design In A Nutshell

Participatory design (PD) is an approach to product design involving the active participation of researchers, end-users, partners, citizens, designers, employees, and other stakeholders.

Understanding participatory design

While many organizations are embracing design-led innovation, a design team’s interactions with customers are frequently limited to the early research and late evaluation phases of the design process.

Between these phases is where ideas are generated, a process that occurs internally with little to no external input.

Participatory design seeks to remedy this issue by inviting all stakeholders into the design process.

This helps the design team understand, meet, and even pre-empt stakeholder needs by having them take an active role in design solutions for themselves.

When an organization adopts the mindset of designing with stakeholders and not for stakeholders, it tends to develop more innovative and customer-centric products and services. Participatory design also helps a business:

  • Better understand how people think about a given problem, discipline, or technology.
  • Determine if there is a contradiction between what an end-user says they will do and what they actually do.
  • Determine if there is a cultural or political disconnect between itself and the end-user.

Participatory design strategies

How do businesses uncover unmet needs during product design? In truth, there are many ways:

Journey mapping

The customer journey – sometimes called the buyer or user journey – tells the customer experience with a business, brand, product, or service. A customer journey is an alternative approach to other linear models like the sales funnel which hypothesize that most customers follow the same path.

Here, customers map out their current experiences on a journey map.

This includes frustrations, challenges, pain points, and areas for opportunity.

Some organizations find that extracting information within the context of the entire customer experience yields better results than focusing on standalone issues.

Magic button

An activity that encourages customers to imagine their ideal experience.

In other words, what if they could get what they wanted, when they wanted it?

The magic button also helps customers focus on their “right-now” needs. 

Lensed brainstorming

Round-robin brainstorming is a collective and iterative approach to brainstorming. Brainstorming is an effective way of generating fresh ideas for an organization. Round-robin brainstorming is a balanced approach, employing an iterative, circular process that builds on the previous contribution of each participant.

The goal of lensed brainstorming is to generate lots of ideas in a short time. Note that a lens is one or two words representing a key concept, brand attribute, or mindset that helps participants look at a scenario differently.

Three to five lenses per group with 2 minutes spent brainstorming on each will deliver the best results.

Benefits of participatory design

There are many benefits to the participatory design process. Some of the more significant benefits include:

Reduced risk of failure

With more stakeholders participating in the design process, the implication is that more people will check each step and uncover mistakes. 


By its very nature, participatory design helps stakeholders feel a sense of pride and ownership over the product design process.

Empowered stakeholders are more likely to be invested in the final product and more broadly, organizational success.


The participation of more stakeholders also brings with it more expertise and a diverse range of perspectives.

End-users in particular help the design team consider fresh and original ideas that help them question their assumptions.

Key takeaways

  • Participatory design (PD) is an approach to product design involving the active participation of researchers, end-users, partners, citizens, designers, employees, and other stakeholders.
  • Participatory design helps customers uncover unmet needs via journey mapping, the magic button, and lensed brainstorming, among other techniques. This inclusive approach to product development helps the organization understand, meet, and pre-empt stakeholder needs.
  • Participatory design reduces the risk of failure and guarantees there is more expertise to uncover and rectify mistakes. Stakeholders who are engaged in the process are more likely to be invested in the success of the product. They also bring fresh perspectives to sometimes insular product design teams.

Participatory design examples

Microsoft Office

When Microsoft first introduced the ribbon interface for Office products, a team conducted usability tests with a PowerPoint slideshow used to prototype the concept.

To determine if users would be able to find tools or options under various situations, each slide featured a different ribbon tab.

Microsoft intended for users to click on each tab before a new slide would open.

However, one user decided to use the scroll wheel on the mouse to navigate through the tabs more quickly.

This previously unplanned feature later found its way into Microsoft Office, with one user in particular taking an active role in shaping the final product.

Floating gardens

Participatory design was also used in Cambodia to develop floating vegetable gardens for low-income communities living on a lake.

The initiative, a collaboration between villagers, community organizations, CoDesign Studio, and the Agile Development Group, was split into three distinct phases: scoping, prototyping, and evaluation.

The scoping process involved meetings and creative consultation sessions. It was discovered that the locals had problems with insects eating their crops and, in any case, did not know much about agriculture because their ancestors had lived on the water for decades.

Participants were encouraged to draw their idea of a perfect garden and answer the following questions:

  • Which plants would you like to grow?
  • What are the optimal soil type and depths?
  • Does the floating garden need to be able to support a person’s weight?
  • What materials should be used, and why?
  • What (if any) safeguards are there against pests such as rats?

A prototyping field trip was undertaken a few months later that was attended by Australian design consultants, volunteers, and local people.

These individuals were split into four teams and each was tasked with developing a floating garden prototype for $30 or less.

Creating a low-cost solution was important because it would empower poorer citizens and reduce their reliance on donor organizations.

In the final evaluation phase, activities and questionnaires were designed to encourage villagers to discuss their prototypes and any ideas for further improvements.

The effectiveness of several prototypes was compared to baseline data from various metrics such as improved nutrition and food sovereignty, increased knowledge of design and agriculture, and innovation in design. 

A reflection session was also held to discuss what went well in the participatory design process and what did not.

It was noted that the participants had transitioned from designer-led to user-led design and, most importantly, had increased their food production levels.

Collaborative learning environments

In the mid-2000s, computer and software technology was mostly underutilized in U.S. classrooms.

Teachers found it difficult to incorporate these technologies into their curriculum or were simply unaware of their potential benefits.

Participatory design was used to design a collaborative, science-based learning environment where teachers and students took an active role in system analysis and design.

In a process that lasted for two and a half years, both user groups generated a majority of the claims, scenarios, and prototypes to improve the practicality and relevance of educational technology.

The process also increased the social and cognitive development of teachers.

Many felt more confident to apply and incorporate custom educational software into their lesson plans as they became more technologically savvy.

Others became empowered to participate in the design process itself and contribute to a system that comprised and/or impacted their day-to-day work lives.

Additional Case Studies

1. Google Search User Feedback:

  • User Feedback Gathering: Google actively collects feedback from its users through various channels, including online surveys, user forums, and direct feedback mechanisms within its search engine.
  • Usability Testing: Google conducts usability tests where users are asked to perform specific tasks on the search engine, providing insights into their interactions and preferences.
  • Collaborative Feedback Analysis: User feedback is systematically analyzed, categorized, and prioritized to identify common pain points, feature requests, and usability issues.
  • Iterative Improvements: Google’s search algorithm and user interface are iteratively improved based on user feedback, with frequent updates and A/B testing to assess the impact of changes.

2. Facebook Privacy Settings Redesign:

  • User Surveys: Facebook conducts surveys to understand user preferences and concerns regarding privacy settings.
  • Focus Groups: Focus groups consisting of Facebook users discuss and provide input on the design of privacy controls.
  • Design Workshops: Users are invited to design workshops to ideate and sketch potential improvements to privacy settings.
  • User Testing: Facebook involves users in testing redesigned privacy settings to evaluate their effectiveness and usability.
  • Feedback Incorporation: User feedback directly influences the design and implementation of privacy settings, making them more user-friendly and transparent.

3. Apple Accessibility Features:

  • Accessibility Workshops: Apple collaborates with organizations and individuals with disabilities to conduct workshops and gather insights on accessibility needs.
  • User Testing: People with disabilities actively participate in user testing sessions to provide feedback on the usability of accessibility features.
  • Accessibility Advocacy: Apple partners with advocacy groups to ensure that its products and features meet accessibility standards and user requirements.
  • Feature Development: Insights from users with disabilities guide the development of accessibility features, resulting in improvements such as VoiceOver and Magnifier.

4. Amazon Echo’s Voice Recognition Improvement:

  • Voice Sample Collection: Amazon encourages Echo users to submit voice samples and feedback to improve voice recognition.
  • Feedback Channels: Users can report issues and provide feedback through the Amazon Echo app and online forums.
  • Data Analysis: Collected voice samples and user feedback are analyzed to identify patterns, accents, and languages for voice recognition training.
  • Machine Learning Refinement: Machine learning models powering voice recognition are continuously updated based on user input, leading to enhanced accuracy.

5. Airbnb Host Dashboard Redesign:

  • Host Workshops: Airbnb hosts are invited to workshops where they participate in the design process of the host dashboard.
  • Usability Testing: Hosts provide feedback on prototypes and usability, helping shape the layout and features of the dashboard.
  • Iterative Design: Airbnb iteratively refines the design based on host feedback, ensuring that it aligns with their needs and preferences.
  • Improved Host Experience: The participatory approach results in a host dashboard that is more intuitive and efficient for managing listings and bookings.

6. Tesla Autopilot User Experience Enhancement:

  • Data Collection: Tesla owners contribute real-world driving data, including Autopilot usage, through their vehicles.
  • User Feedback: Users report issues, provide feedback, and suggest improvements related to Autopilot functionality.
  • Machine Learning Updates: Tesla uses the collected data and user feedback to train machine learning models, improving Autopilot behavior.
  • Over-the-Air Updates: Regular over-the-air software updates incorporate improvements driven by user input, enhancing safety and user experience.

7. Twitter Algorithmic Feed Redesign:

  • User Surveys: Twitter conducts surveys to understand user preferences regarding chronological vs. algorithmic timelines.
  • Focus Group Discussions: Focus groups involving Twitter users explore user expectations and experiences with the timeline.
  • Iterative Changes: Twitter iterates on its timeline design based on user feedback, striking a balance between user control and relevance.

8. Microsoft Windows Insider Program:

  • Early Access: Windows Insider Program provides early access to preview builds, allowing users to test new features and provide feedback.
  • Feedback Hub: Users submit feedback and bug reports through the Feedback Hub, allowing Microsoft to track and address issues.
  • User-Driven Prioritization: User feedback influences the prioritization of bug fixes and feature development, ensuring user needs are addressed.

9. YouTube Content Policy Updates:

  • Content Creator Feedback: YouTube engages content creators in discussions and surveys to gather input on content policies.
  • Transparency: YouTube shares policy changes and updates with content creators to maintain transparency.
  • Balanced Approach: YouTube seeks to strike a balance between content creator freedom and user safety based on user feedback and discussions.

10. Netflix Content Recommendation Algorithm:

  • User Behavior Analysis: Netflix analyzes user viewing history, ratings, and interactions with the platform to personalize content recommendations.
  • Continuous Learning: Machine learning models are continuously trained and updated based on user preferences and behavior.
  • User Ratings and Feedback: Users can rate content and provide feedback, which informs the recommendation system’s improvements.

Key highlights of participatory design:

  • Definition and Stakeholders: Participatory design (PD) is an approach to product design that involves active participation from various stakeholders such as researchers, end-users, partners, citizens, designers, employees, and more.
  • Enhancing Design Process: While design-led innovation often involves limited customer interaction, PD invites stakeholders throughout the design process to understand and preempt their needs.
  • Designing With, Not For: PD shifts from designing for stakeholders to designing with them, resulting in more customer-centric and innovative products/services.
  • Benefits of PD:
    • Gains insights into how stakeholders think and feel about a problem, discipline, or technology.
    • Identifies any contradictions between what end-users say and do.
    • Addresses cultural or political gaps between the organization and its users.
  • Strategies of Participatory Design:
    • Journey Mapping: Visualizes the customer experience, highlighting frustrations, challenges, and opportunities.
    • Magic Button: Encourages stakeholders to imagine their ideal experiences and immediate needs.
    • Lensed Brainstorming: Iterative idea generation using lenses to explore different angles.
  • Benefits of Participatory Design:
    • Reduced Risk of Failure: More stakeholders checking each step can uncover mistakes and enhance product quality.
    • Engagement and Empowerment: Stakeholders’ active involvement fosters ownership and investment in the product’s success.
    • Innovation: Diverse perspectives and expertise from stakeholders lead to fresh and innovative ideas.
  • Examples of Participatory Design:
    • Microsoft Office: Usability testing of the ribbon interface revealed unexpected interactions, resulting in improved features.
    • Floating Gardens in Cambodia: Collaborative effort designing floating vegetable gardens empowered local communities, addressing agricultural challenges and needs.
    • Collaborative Learning Environments: Participatory design transformed classrooms by involving teachers and students in designing science-based learning environments, enhancing educational technology integration.
  • Value of User Involvement: Incorporating stakeholders into the design process ensures products are tailored to their actual needs and preferences.
  • User Empowerment and Ownership: Engaging users fosters a sense of pride and involvement, leading to products that align better with their requirements.
  • Enhanced Innovation: User input and diverse perspectives lead to more creative and original ideas, challenging conventional assumptions.
  • Reduced Risk and Improved Quality: Multiple stakeholders contribute to error detection and rectification, minimizing the likelihood of failure.
  • Transformative Process: Participatory design can shift from designer-led to user-led design, resulting in increased empowerment and success.
  • Iterative and Collaborative: PD is not a one-time process; it involves continuous user involvement, adaptation, and improvement.
  • Designing for Real Needs: PD helps organizations identify and address real-world issues, ensuring products truly cater to user requirements.
  • Enhanced Learning and Development: Teachers and students benefit from the PD process by becoming more technologically adept and engaged.
  • Collaborative Innovation: PD aligns well with collaborative approaches, capitalizing on diverse inputs for innovative outcomes.
  • Inclusive Decision-Making: By involving all stakeholders, PD ensures a more comprehensive understanding of requirements and expectations.
  • Conclusion: Participatory design represents a shift from designing in isolation to engaging stakeholders, leading to more relevant, innovative, and successful products/services. It empowers users, reduces risks, and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.
DefinitionParticipatory Design (PD) is a collaborative approach to designing products, services, or systems, involving end-users, stakeholders, and design professionals in the design process. It emphasizes user involvement from the early stages of ideation to prototype development and decision-making.
Key PrinciplesInclusivity: Involving a diverse group of participants, including users, stakeholders, and designers. – User Empowerment: Empowering users to influence design decisions and outcomes. – Iterative Process: Iteratively refining designs based on continuous feedback. – Shared Ownership: Promoting a sense of ownership and co-creation among participants. – Contextual Understanding: Gaining insights into the user’s context, needs, and challenges. – User Expertise: Recognizing that users are experts in their own experiences. – Mutual Learning: Fostering mutual learning between users and designers. – Ethical Considerations: Ensuring respect for privacy, consent, and ethical research practices.
BenefitsImproved User Experience: Designs better aligned with user needs and preferences. – Enhanced Innovation: Diverse perspectives lead to innovative solutions. – Higher User Satisfaction: Users feel valued and heard, resulting in greater satisfaction. – Reduced Costs: Identifying issues early minimizes costly design revisions. – Faster Time-to-Market: Efficient design iterations accelerate product development. – Stronger User Engagement: Users become advocates and champions of the product. – Better Problem Solving: Collective intelligence addresses complex challenges effectively.
Methods/TechniquesUser Interviews: Conducting interviews to gather user insights and needs. – Contextual Inquiry: Observing users in their natural environment. – Persona Development: Creating user personas to represent target users. – Brainstorming Sessions: Generating creative ideas collaboratively. – Prototyping: Building prototypes for user testing and feedback. – Usability Testing: Evaluating designs for usability and user satisfaction. – Co-Design Workshops: Facilitating workshops for co-creating solutions. – Card Sorting: Organizing information and content based on user input.
ChallengesTime-Consuming: Participatory design can be time-intensive due to collaboration and feedback collection. – Resource-Intensive: It requires skilled facilitators, user recruitment, and tools. – Conflict Management: Balancing diverse opinions and resolving conflicts among participants. – Bias and Sampling: Ensuring a representative sample of users and stakeholders. – Resistance to Change: Some stakeholders may resist user-driven design approaches. – Scalability: Challenges in scaling participatory design for large projects.
ApplicationsProduct Design: Developing user-centric products and interfaces. – Service Design: Creating services that align with user expectations. – Urban Planning: Involving communities in shaping urban environments. – Healthcare: Designing patient-centric healthcare services and technologies. – Software Development: Integrating user feedback into software design. – Education: Engaging students and teachers in designing educational materials. – Community Development: Empowering communities to address local issues. – Nonprofits: Involving beneficiaries in program and service design.
ExamplesIDEO: Known for its human-centered design approach involving users in innovation. – Mozilla Firefox: Engaged users in developing features and add-ons. – LEGO Ideas: Allows users to propose and vote on new LEGO sets. – OpenStreetMap: A collaborative mapping project involving volunteers worldwide. – PatientsLikeMe: Enables patients to share experiences and data for medical research. – Local Community Projects: Initiatives involving residents in neighborhood improvements. – Design Thinking Workshops: Organized by various organizations to solve complex problems. – Government Initiatives: Involving citizens in policy-making and city planning.
Future TrendsDigital Collaboration: Increasing use of online tools for remote participatory design. – AI and Analytics: Leveraging AI for analyzing user input and feedback. – Ethical Considerations: Greater emphasis on ethical user involvement practices. – Global Collaboration: Collaborating across borders and cultures for diverse perspectives. – Healthcare Innovation: PD driving innovations in patient care and medical technologies. – Education Transformation: Involving students in redesigning education models. – Sustainability: Applying PD to address environmental and sustainability challenges. – Human-Robot Interaction: Involving users in shaping AI and robot interactions.

Connected Agile & Lean Frameworks


AIOps is the application of artificial intelligence to IT operations. It has become particularly useful for modern IT management in hybridized, distributed, and dynamic environments. AIOps has become a key operational component of modern digital-based organizations, built around software and algorithms.


AgileSHIFT is a framework that prepares individuals for transformational change by creating a culture of agility.

Agile Methodology

Agile started as a lightweight development method compared to heavyweight software development, which is the core paradigm of the previous decades of software development. By 2001 the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was born as a set of principles that defined the new paradigm for software development as a continuous iteration. This would also influence the way of doing business.

Agile Program Management

Agile Program Management is a means of managing, planning, and coordinating interrelated work in such a way that value delivery is emphasized for all key stakeholders. Agile Program Management (AgilePgM) is a disciplined yet flexible agile approach to managing transformational change within an organization.

Agile Project Management

Agile project management (APM) is a strategy that breaks large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. In the APM methodology, each project is completed in small sections – often referred to as iterations. Each iteration is completed according to its project life cycle, beginning with the initial design and progressing to testing and then quality assurance.

Agile Modeling

Agile Modeling (AM) is a methodology for modeling and documenting software-based systems. Agile Modeling is critical to the rapid and continuous delivery of software. It is a collection of values, principles, and practices that guide effective, lightweight software modeling.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

Agile Leadership

Agile leadership is the embodiment of agile manifesto principles by a manager or management team. Agile leadership impacts two important levels of a business. The structural level defines the roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators. The behavioral level describes the actions leaders exhibit to others based on agile principles. 

Andon System

The andon system alerts managerial, maintenance, or other staff of a production process problem. The alert itself can be activated manually with a button or pull cord, but it can also be activated automatically by production equipment. Most Andon boards utilize three colored lights similar to a traffic signal: green (no errors), yellow or amber (problem identified, or quality check needed), and red (production stopped due to unidentified issue).

Bimodal Portfolio Management

Bimodal Portfolio Management (BimodalPfM) helps an organization manage both agile and traditional portfolios concurrently. Bimodal Portfolio Management – sometimes referred to as bimodal development – was coined by research and advisory company Gartner. The firm argued that many agile organizations still needed to run some aspects of their operations using traditional delivery models.

Business Innovation Matrix

Business innovation is about creating new opportunities for an organization to reinvent its core offerings, revenue streams, and enhance the value proposition for existing or new customers, thus renewing its whole business model. Business innovation springs by understanding the structure of the market, thus adapting or anticipating those changes.

Business Model Innovation

Business model innovation is about increasing the success of an organization with existing products and technologies by crafting a compelling value proposition able to propel a new business model to scale up customers and create a lasting competitive advantage. And it all starts by mastering the key customers.

Constructive Disruption

A consumer brand company like Procter & Gamble (P&G) defines “Constructive Disruption” as: a willingness to change, adapt, and create new trends and technologies that will shape our industry for the future. According to P&G, it moves around four pillars: lean innovation, brand building, supply chain, and digitalization & data analytics.

Continuous Innovation

That is a process that requires a continuous feedback loop to develop a valuable product and build a viable business model. Continuous innovation is a mindset where products and services are designed and delivered to tune them around the customers’ problem and not the technical solution of its founders.

Design Sprint

A design sprint is a proven five-day process where critical business questions are answered through speedy design and prototyping, focusing on the end-user. A design sprint starts with a weekly challenge that should finish with a prototype, test at the end, and therefore a lesson learned to be iterated.

Design Thinking

Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.


DevOps refers to a series of practices performed to perform automated software development processes. It is a conjugation of the term “development” and “operations” to emphasize how functions integrate across IT teams. DevOps strategies promote seamless building, testing, and deployment of products. It aims to bridge a gap between development and operations teams to streamline the development altogether.

Dual Track Agile

Product discovery is a critical part of agile methodologies, as its aim is to ensure that products customers love are built. Product discovery involves learning through a raft of methods, including design thinking, lean start-up, and A/B testing to name a few. Dual Track Agile is an agile methodology containing two separate tracks: the “discovery” track and the “delivery” track.

eXtreme Programming

eXtreme Programming was developed in the late 1990s by Ken Beck, Ron Jeffries, and Ward Cunningham. During this time, the trio was working on the Chrysler Comprehensive Compensation System (C3) to help manage the company payroll system. eXtreme Programming (XP) is a software development methodology. It is designed to improve software quality and the ability of software to adapt to changing customer needs.

Feature-Driven Development

Feature-Driven Development is a pragmatic software process that is client and architecture-centric. Feature-Driven Development (FDD) is an agile software development model that organizes workflow according to which features need to be developed next.

Gemba Walk

A Gemba Walk is a fundamental component of lean management. It describes the personal observation of work to learn more about it. Gemba is a Japanese word that loosely translates as “the real place”, or in business, “the place where value is created”. The Gemba Walk as a concept was created by Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System of lean manufacturing. Ohno wanted to encourage management executives to leave their offices and see where the real work happened. This, he hoped, would build relationships between employees with vastly different skillsets and build trust.

GIST Planning

GIST Planning is a relatively easy and lightweight agile approach to product planning that favors autonomous working. GIST Planning is a lean and agile methodology that was created by former Google product manager Itamar Gilad. GIST Planning seeks to address this situation by creating lightweight plans that are responsive and adaptable to change. GIST Planning also improves team velocity, autonomy, and alignment by reducing the pervasive influence of management. It consists of four blocks: goals, ideas, step-projects, and tasks.

ICE Scoring

The ICE Scoring Model is an agile methodology that prioritizes features using data according to three components: impact, confidence, and ease of implementation. The ICE Scoring Model was initially created by author and growth expert Sean Ellis to help companies expand. Today, the model is broadly used to prioritize projects, features, initiatives, and rollouts. It is ideally suited for early-stage product development where there is a continuous flow of ideas and momentum must be maintained.

Innovation Funnel

An innovation funnel is a tool or process ensuring only the best ideas are executed. In a metaphorical sense, the funnel screens innovative ideas for viability so that only the best products, processes, or business models are launched to the market. An innovation funnel provides a framework for the screening and testing of innovative ideas for viability.

Innovation Matrix

According to how well defined is the problem and how well defined the domain, we have four main types of innovations: basic research (problem and domain or not well defined); breakthrough innovation (domain is not well defined, the problem is well defined); sustaining innovation (both problem and domain are well defined); and disruptive innovation (domain is well defined, the problem is not well defined).

Innovation Theory

The innovation loop is a methodology/framework derived from the Bell Labs, which produced innovation at scale throughout the 20th century. They learned how to leverage a hybrid innovation management model based on science, invention, engineering, and manufacturing at scale. By leveraging individual genius, creativity, and small/large groups.

Lean vs. Agile

The Agile methodology has been primarily thought of for software development (and other business disciplines have also adopted it). Lean thinking is a process improvement technique where teams prioritize the value streams to improve it continuously. Both methodologies look at the customer as the key driver to improvement and waste reduction. Both methodologies look at improvement as something continuous.

Lean Startup

A startup company is a high-tech business that tries to build a scalable business model in tech-driven industries. A startup company usually follows a lean methodology, where continuous innovation, driven by built-in viral loops is the rule. Thus, driving growth and building network effects as a consequence of this strategy.

Minimum Viable Product

As pointed out by Eric Ries, a minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort through a cycle of build, measure, learn; that is the foundation of the lean startup methodology.

Leaner MVP

A leaner MVP is the evolution of the MPV approach. Where the market risk is validated before anything else


Kanban is a lean manufacturing framework first developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. The Kanban framework is a means of visualizing work as it moves through identifying potential bottlenecks. It does that through a process called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize engineering processes, speed up manufacturing products, and improve the go-to-market strategy.


Jidoka was first used in 1896 by Sakichi Toyoda, who invented a textile loom that would stop automatically when it encountered a defective thread. Jidoka is a Japanese term used in lean manufacturing. The term describes a scenario where machines cease operating without human intervention when a problem or defect is discovered.

PDCA Cycle

The PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle was first proposed by American physicist and engineer Walter A. Shewhart in the 1920s. The PDCA cycle is a continuous process and product improvement method and an essential component of the lean manufacturing philosophy.

Rational Unified Process

Rational unified process (RUP) is an agile software development methodology that breaks the project life cycle down into four distinct phases.

Rapid Application Development

RAD was first introduced by author and consultant James Martin in 1991. Martin recognized and then took advantage of the endless malleability of software in designing development models. Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a methodology focusing on delivering rapidly through continuous feedback and frequent iterations.

Retrospective Analysis

Retrospective analyses are held after a project to determine what worked well and what did not. They are also conducted at the end of an iteration in Agile project management. Agile practitioners call these meetings retrospectives or retros. They are an effective way to check the pulse of a project team, reflect on the work performed to date, and reach a consensus on how to tackle the next sprint cycle. These are the five stages of a retrospective analysis for effective Agile project management: set the stage, gather the data, generate insights, decide on the next steps, and close the retrospective.

Scaled Agile

Scaled Agile Lean Development (ScALeD) helps businesses discover a balanced approach to agile transition and scaling questions. The ScALed approach helps businesses successfully respond to change. Inspired by a combination of lean and agile values, ScALed is practitioner-based and can be completed through various agile frameworks and practices.


The SMED (single minute exchange of die) method is a lean production framework to reduce waste and increase production efficiency. The SMED method is a framework for reducing the time associated with completing an equipment changeover.

Spotify Model

The Spotify Model is an autonomous approach to scaling agile, focusing on culture communication, accountability, and quality. The Spotify model was first recognized in 2012 after Henrik Kniberg, and Anders Ivarsson released a white paper detailing how streaming company Spotify approached agility. Therefore, the Spotify model represents an evolution of agile.

Test-Driven Development

As the name suggests, TDD is a test-driven technique for delivering high-quality software rapidly and sustainably. It is an iterative approach based on the idea that a failing test should be written before any code for a feature or function is written. Test-Driven Development (TDD) is an approach to software development that relies on very short development cycles.


Timeboxing is a simple yet powerful time-management technique for improving productivity. Timeboxing describes the process of proactively scheduling a block of time to spend on a task in the future. It was first described by author James Martin in a book about agile software development.


Scrum is a methodology co-created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum was primarily thought for software development projects to deliver new software capability every 2-4 weeks. It is a sub-group of agile also used in project management to improve startups’ productivity.


Scrumban is a project management framework that is a hybrid of two popular agile methodologies: Scrum and Kanban. Scrumban is a popular approach to helping businesses focus on the right strategic tasks while simultaneously strengthening their processes.

Scrum Anti-Patterns

Scrum anti-patterns describe any attractive, easy-to-implement solution that ultimately makes a problem worse. Therefore, these are the practice not to follow to prevent issues from emerging. Some classic examples of scrum anti-patterns comprise absent product owners, pre-assigned tickets (making individuals work in isolation), and discounting retrospectives (where review meetings are not useful to really make improvements).

Scrum At Scale

Scrum at Scale (Scrum@Scale) is a framework that Scrum teams use to address complex problems and deliver high-value products. Scrum at Scale was created through a joint venture between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum Inc. The joint venture was overseen by Jeff Sutherland, a co-creator of Scrum and one of the principal authors of the Agile Manifesto.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating errors or defects in a product, service, or process. Six Sigma was developed by Motorola as a management approach based on quality fundamentals in the early 1980s. A decade later, it was popularized by General Electric who estimated that the methodology saved them $12 billion in the first five years of operation.

Stretch Objectives

Stretch objectives describe any task an agile team plans to complete without expressly committing to do so. Teams incorporate stretch objectives during a Sprint or Program Increment (PI) as part of Scaled Agile. They are used when the agile team is unsure of its capacity to attain an objective. Therefore, stretch objectives are instead outcomes that, while extremely desirable, are not the difference between the success or failure of each sprint.

Toyota Production System

The Toyota Production System (TPS) is an early form of lean manufacturing created by auto-manufacturer Toyota. Created by the Toyota Motor Corporation in the 1940s and 50s, the Toyota Production System seeks to manufacture vehicles ordered by customers most quickly and efficiently possible.

Total Quality Management

The Total Quality Management (TQM) framework is a technique based on the premise that employees continuously work on their ability to provide value to customers. Importantly, the word “total” means that all employees are involved in the process – regardless of whether they work in development, production, or fulfillment.


The waterfall model was first described by Herbert D. Benington in 1956 during a presentation about the software used in radar imaging during the Cold War. Since there were no knowledge-based, creative software development strategies at the time, the waterfall method became standard practice. The waterfall model is a linear and sequential project management framework. 

Read Also: Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

Read Next: Agile Methodology, Lean Methodology, Agile Project Management, Scrum, Kanban, Six Sigma.

Main Guides:

Main Case Studies:

About The Author

Scroll to Top