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From end to end: why the union of Design Thinking and Agile has been so successful

Much is said about Design Thinking and much is said about Agile, both methodologies are very powerful value propositions for business. However, combining them results in a product that really add more value to customers.

The key is knowing where each one fits in. Where DT can’t reach, Agile can compensate and vice versa. It is the union between doing and thinking.

Design Thinking: Think of solutions, solve situations and problems, close the gaps that need filling in. It is Design Thinking that will pave the way to traveling assertively.

Agile:   Make Tangible and build. Since you have a well-defined idea (through Design Thinking), Agile will clear a path towards your idea by removing obstacles that stand in your way.

With this combination, it is possible to think of much more assertive initiatives. Investments can be made with greater reliability, teams have an easier time understanding what it is they need to create a problem solving solution, giving them clarity and visibility.

Design Thinking: What is the human need behind the business need?

As a rule, the corporate scene is full of uncertainties:

  • Will this project work?
  • Will this product or service serve customers?
  • What’s the best route to follow?
  • What is best for our users?

Many insights, multiple directions to be followed and no assertive decision on which way to take. It is in this situation that Design Thinking will help you break down the problem and help you find a solution.

In a chaotic scenario you can find a more accurate, value proposition oriented direction. It is DT that will built this bridge between uncertainty and success.

Design Thinking will bring a fully based solution for what the end user’s needs, the person at the center of the process. Its power is derived from empathy and human interaction.

Agile: you do not make Agile; you become Agile

Agility is a mindset. Agile is a different way of thinking and rethinking the very logic of your work routine. Agile starts inside each and every one of us.

Therefore, before adopting frameworks and best practices, before looking at the technical part of Agile, you must to turn to the mindset. You must become Agile before using Agile.

Agile Methods: divide and conquer!

In traditional methods, also known as waterfall, the scope of what needs to be done is seen as the whole. And this is often extremely complex, requires a huge effort, can be difficult to manage and does not give much flexibility in reaching their final goal.

In the case of Agile, dividing to conquer, everything becomes lighter, more practical and more flexible.

Using the Agile methodology, it is possible to:

  • Place the client as an active participant in the process.
  • Redirect the project according to the objective of the business.
  • Reduce time and cost.
  • Minimize the possibility of errors in the final product.
  • Communicate with the customer much more simply and transparently.
  • Provide product experimentation from the first phase of the project.
  • Have more flexibility to perform changes with less painful holdbacks.

Agile meets market and business needs, delivers high quality quality results through high productivity. That’s why it has become a basic necessity for many companies.

Besides that, there are several delivery models within the Agile mindset that refer us to the concept of incremental deliveries. There are several small tasks that when combined, make up the final delivery.

So, divide and conquer!


Now that we have visited the basic concepts of Design Thinking and Agile, let’s better understand how combining the two can bring results that generate value for your business through practical case studies of MJV.

The Cases

Client: Telecine Play


Telecine Play needed to redesign the customer service center in their app. Their customer service was not positively received, which caused a high number of user complaints.


To create a new relationship model with Telecine Play users through the app, we created a framework that combines Design Thinking and Agility (DT + Scrum).

We ran all the steps of Design Thinking:

  • Empathy
  • Analysis
  • Definition of what needs to be built
  • Prototype ideation
  • Prototype construction

This was done incrementally so that the development team could start working in parallel with prototyping: each prototyping sprint served as the sprint prior to development.

This model was crucial to achieve:

  • Self-organization of the project cell.
  • Have a working model that met customer expectations and maintained the quality and the look of innovation.

DT + Agile Union

Key points to have a successful project.


  • Co-creation: everything is done together with the Telecine Play team.
  • Inspirational Talks: interviews to immerse yourself in the client’s scenario and be able to understand their pain (as a service provider) as well as user pains.
  • A Day In The Life: a tool that allows you to “enter” a user’s routine and experience the product/service from their perspective.
  • Empathy Map
  • Mind Map


  • Kanban: well-defined organization and productivity flow in order to not delay deliveries.
  • Agile Ceremonies
  • Cross functions: multidisciplinary team to meet the most diverse demands for the project of reframing customer service and meeting customer deadline expectations.

Project UMA

It’s a prototype focused on agribusiness. His proposal combines several technologies such as IoT, Big Data, Augmented Reality and mobile development.

The goal of Project UMA is to work soil irrigation in an automated way through sensors that capture data about the soil (moisture, quality, irrigation, lighting, etc.) in real time. This project is an example of how technology can make our lives easier, helping save time, effort and lessen the complexity of simple activities.

This prototype was built in record time because two frameworks were combined: the stages of Design Thinking with Lean modeling, combining thinking with tangibility.

Due to this, we had a much more flexible and productive work model that really succeeded in achieving the goal within the deadline.

DT + Agile Methods

Some points that were fundamental to the success of Prototype UMA.


  • Empathy Map
  • User Journey Map
  • Lean Inception: Lean’s vision to make MVPs more result oriented.


  • Lean Startup
  • Agile Ceremonies: they help in organization and having leaner communication.
  • Retro “on the fly”: The retrospective was made during the sprint to buy time. This allows continuous improvements to be made from the very beginning of the project.

DT + Agile: end-to-end value proposals

New ways of problem solving are increasingly necessary. Design Thinking and Agile are fundamental to this acclimation. DT brings a mindset that enables disruptive thinking and Agile’s productively makes things tangible.

It is important to remember that Design Thinking and Agile are not unique methodologies for development teams. On the contrary: all departments and all levels of a company can benefit from this union.

  • More strategic, assertive and innovative backlogs.
  • User Stories fully oriented to the end user and not only with a technical approach.
  • Requirements that are easier to understand.
  • Deep understanding: feeling of gratification for being part of a project from the beginning.
  • More consistent and reliable investments.

Companies that adopt Design Thinking and Agile are looking at end-to-end value proposals. Agile alone is a value proposition, but fully based on “make”. Design Thinking alone is a value proposition but based only on “thinking”.

Combining the “thinking” and “making” end-to-end, delivering something much more valuable to the customer – from a financial point of view – a very powerful value proposition for businesses. In addition to bringing exponential results in a much shorter time frame with lower costs, combining DT + Agile can be the difference between the success and a failure of an idea – that becomes a project and finally, a solution. That’s what puts us into the position of a company that can act on any challenge for any customer anywhere in the world. 

Let’s take it one step further and talk about Design Thinking and Agile in the context of Digital Transformation. Download our ebook now and understand how the union of these practices can facilitate the development of your business!

Design Thinking and Agile -in the context of digital transformation - MJV Technology & Innovation