It has been nearly 3 years since the original Lean UX Canvas was published. During that time I’ve used it extensively in my work as a coach, consultant and trainer. I’ve also received a lot of feedback and many questions about how it’s supposed to be used, what do certain sections mean and how to better differentiate the different boxes with stakeholders, clients and team members. With the recent launch of the Professional Scrum with UX course, the Lean UX Canvas began to figure prominently in the conversations I was having with Josh Seiden, Gary Pedretti and Erik Weber (the co-creators of the course). Since we were leaning heavily on the canvas in that class and the amount of feedback and questions about it had been piling up for a while, I thought it was time to update it.
Before I get into the differences and the rationale for the changes from V1 to V2, I want to cover what purpose I believe the canvas serves and how I imagined it would be used:
- It’s a facilitation tool for cross-functional teams designed to create a customer-centric conversation about the work the team is doing
- The goal was to help the team focus on “why” they’re doing the current work
- It provides an initial recipe for teams to follow in the early stages of agile adoption
- It’s a kind of “insurance policy” to ensure learning takes place in every sprint
- It exposes the gaps in the team’s understanding of the problem they’re solving, who they’re solving it for and why they believe their solutions will work
- It’s a first step in the shift of the conversation from outputs to outcomes
So what’s new? Let’s get into it:
Box 1 – Business problem statement
What’s changed: Better and more detailed instructions along with some hints about what specifically should go in this box.
Why it changed: There wasn’t enough clarity around what exactly a good business problem is and how it should be worded. This box is designed to help the team articulate what’s changed in the world that has impacted their business in a way that needs to be solved.
e.g., Connectivity is now a commodity. As an organisation that once was a one-stop-shop for connectivity and content we’re now viewed as a “dumb pipe.” How might we might increase the value of our service beyond this perception and increase lifetime customer value and retention?
Box 2 – Business outcomes
What’s changed: More detail about what a good outcome should be.
Why it changed: A clearer distinction was needed between this box and Box 4. Also, this is an attempt to be clear that what’s needed in this box is a change in someone’s behaviour — a customer, a user, an employee, an executive, etc.
e.g., 25% increase in customer retention, 35% decrease in support calls about the mobile app
Box 3 – Users
What’s changed: A simplification and clarification was added that this is where we’re we add persons and that they should focus not just on customers or users but admins and buyers among other users.
Why it changed: Having had several canvases sent to me (and seeing them in action with the teams I work with) I noticed that teams were taking a bit of a shortcut with this box. While there are certainly user characteristics everyone believes, it’s important to ensure the team is aligned around a shared vision of the customer.
e.g., Rochelle the IT Administrator who needs to install the system easily and configure hundreds of users at a time on a quarterly basis
Box 4 – User outcomes and benefits
What’s changed: The name of the box has been updated to include benefits and the explanatory text does a more thorough job of explaining what should go in here and why this is an important, unique part of the canvas.
Why it changed: This has been the part of the canvas with the most confusion. The original goal here was to call these “outcomes” out as emotional goals but the language got confusing. I’ve had many questions over the years about how this differs from Box 2. With this update the difference has been made more distinct. This is a conversation about goals, benefits and emotions. Occasionally we may use metrics here but ideally this is a conversation about empathy.
e.g., Rochelle spends less time configuring users and more time optimising the system for her company’s specific needs
Box 5 – Solutions
What’s changed: Again, better instructional text and hints.
Why it changed: Depending on the team using the canvas, the items created for this box can vary greatly in scope. This change was designed to help teams see that this box provides the opportunity to offer up solutions big, small, innovative and perhaps a bit “weird.” The goal was to help enhance the brainstorm for this box to include not just tactical features, but new systems or business models as well as non-technical solutions.
Box 6 – Hypotheses
What’s changed: No significant change here.
Why it changed: It didn’t because it was good enough the first time. 🙂
e.g., We believe a 25% reduction in administration costs will be achieved if Rochelle the System Admin spends less time configuring users with a batch configuration tool.
Box 7 – What’s the most important thing we need to learn first?
What’s changed: Better instructional text to help the user through the two-step process necessary to completing this box successfully.
Why it changed: When discussing risks with a cross-functional team every discipline, if not every person, on the team will provide their perspective. And they’ll be right. The exercise behind this box is designed to get all those risks out on the table and then choose the riskiest one for the team right now. The hint was added to point out that if you’re in the early stages of a hypothesis, value should be the main focus, not feasibility in most cases.
e.g., Does it make sense to add 100 users at a time into our system?
Box 8 – What’s the least amount of work to learn the next most important thing?
What’s changed: No significant change here.
Why it changed: It didn’t but that’s because experiment design is tricky and can’t really be boiled down into a box on a canvas other than to remind you that it needs to be done as the next step in this process.
e.g., Interview 10 admins that match Rochelle’s profile to understand how they add users today.
While the changes to the canvas overall are subtle, they make a difference in the way we work with it. They clarify and make more explicit the details each box seeks to expose. Take it out for a spin and let me know what you think of this new version.
P.S. — One other thing you’ll note is an overlay page in the PDF version that provides the rationale behind the design of the canvas. Again, this was done to help make clearer the purpose of this tool.