Innovation in the workplace involves a culture that encourages the creation of new things. This can include an employee voicing a new idea, coming up with a concept, or creating a method to enhance the performance of a process, person, team or organisation.
Innovation in the workplace is something that is extremely important, as it keeps your everyday work feeling fresh and interesting. It is also an opportunity to show leadership by example, meaning that, if there is innovative work happening in the workplace, one is able to demonstrate how to bring new ideas to life, to both potential clients and fellow colleagues.
Following the first article in this series, about how and why the design sprint app came to fruition, it seemed valuable to continue writing about this experience and the lessons learnt along the way, especially those concerning innovation in the workplace.
Personally, coming from a startup background – both running my own and being part of rapidly growing companies – innovation and running with new ideas are common practice. In my own startups, it was easy to be creative when only answering to myself and the team around me. It was never really necessary to ask permission, or to get approval to run a project. However, when working in the wonderful company of MOBGEN, which is part of Accenture Interactive (a very large organisation indeed) the project rules are a little more defined.
With this in mind, when first coming up with the idea of a design sprint app, it was immediately apparent that to make this work, the idea needed to be fully thought-through. As explained in the previous article, after some thought, it was important to follow with the creation of a prototype and a short pitch presentation to get support from my supervisor, the CEO and Chief Creative Officer at MOBGEN. A fair amount of dedication to this idea proved valuable in the long-run, as it got the approval needed to progress further and involve fellow colleagues.
The first step that needed to be completed, was to put together a strong team. This team could help build an MVP, which would later be released internally in the company, and maybe even publicly thereafter. A clear plan for the MVP was documented, with useful background research and the prototype on the company’s internal wiki. Then, it was important to communicate the progress of this quickly-growing idea internally, using the company-wide Slack channel to introduce the project and to see if anyone would be interested in joining the developing project.
The response to these phases of the project were overwhelmingly positive, colleagues from different disciplines offered to get turn this idea into something solid during their down-time at work. Also, a couple of team leads agreed to assign new joiners, who had the appropriate time needed to spend on developing the MVP. This was a great relief as developing the MVP alone was not something I was confident in doing. It was a great feeling to receive such positive feedback, and to be surrounded by others who supported innovation in the purest sense.
Success! The team was officially ready to go. The team was comprised of one digital designer, to transform the original designs and two developers, who would help build the MVP. We also welcomed a service designer, who helps with content and representing the project’s core users: people who facilitate workshops, in particular design sprints.
When deciding what to include, and leave out of the MVP we considered the following things:
- Time: it was our goal to release the MVP internally within 6-8 weeks
- Team Size: we are a relatively small team
- Value: what impact can this have?
- Complexity: is this possible within the allocated time frame and with the resources we have available?
With these key points in mind, we decided the MVP should consist of the following:
- Static content for a design sprint
- A timer that can be used to time activities in the day’s agenda
- A resource section with recommended items and Energizer activity equipment to purchase
- Basic navigation in the application between the three sections
- Integration with MOBGEN’s Mobile CMS: HALO
There were a number of features that were considered as important for the application. However, it was eventually decided that, for simplicity’s sake, we would hold off on these features and keep them out of the MVP. This was largely due to the time and effort they would take to develop, and knowing that there would be more flexibility to think about integrating these features at a later stage, once the success of the MVP has been evaluated.
These features included:
- Account creation & user login
- Users being able to edit the order of activities in the sprint
- Users being able to add and remove activities from a sprint
Once all of the foundational decisions were made, it felt right to kick off the project by creating the Epics and User Stories needed for the MVP. This was put together on a Kanban board for the team to work from. It was decided that the team would work in the Kanban style because, as a small team with different work streams and pace, this method allows each team member to simply pick up an item as and when it suits their schedule.
It is a great feeling to look over the past few weeks and see the progression this project had made so far. Original hopes for the project were to be able to demonstrate the value of a design sprint app internally, using the MVP to get official project approval. It is clear that the team has achieved such goals so far and is surpassing any initial ideas from the start. The team also knows the important of illustrating how creating different innovative projects is possible, even when first thinking that you may be working on something alone. There will always be others who are as enthusiastic as you are and creating such projects has a great potential to add value, both to the working environment and the client offering.
The MOBGEN culture continuously encourages creativity and innovation to every degree, and it’s always great to be part of an environment that allows employees to think outside of the box and try something new.