LET’S DIVE IN
Engagement at a glance
- What was the problem
- Why did they hire us
- What we did to solve the problem
A Fortune 100 company Product Innovation Team wanted to leverage their data to build a new product that would allow homeowners during the inspection phase of the home buying process. With the lack of data organization, process documentation and aggressive timeline – they needed a reliable, creative approach to help determine product solution fit; and needed a partner they could rely on throughout the journey.
The organized chaos, rapid pace and flexibility of the traditional start-up can be challenging within a large corporate environment, yet there are advantages to early-stage endeavors that have access to the resources and knowledge base that a more traditional corporate environment can provide. Without the proper alignment between innovation teams and the greater corporate leadership team, innovation can become a stifled, expensive and frustrating endeavor for everyone involved. We set out to use the principles of project management, lean product development and early-stage startup tactics to help shed light on what we are calling the messy middle.
Tribe of Agile partnered with the client to institute a holistic data aggregation application to support the Product Innovation Team by designing a Client Application backend API and applying industry best practices.
Our Team of Innovation Experts Focused On:
Data Design Flow and Architecture
Facilitation of Design Sprint Workshop
Ensured Legal Compliance
Guided Launch of Site and Application
Enabled Build, Measure, Learn Cadence
Cross Functional collaboration and communication with the internal teams
Larger organizational structures can have a hard time adapting to a more risk-prone model of early-stage product development. The larger organization needs to shift resources to the projects that can provide the most immediate value to shareholders while minimizing any additional risks to the bottom line. New ventures are by their nature a risk and typically take longer to come to light. As a result, the innovation group can be seen as a cost center. However, if done right these nimble subsections of the greater org can be an important part of the future revenue streams. Here are just a few of the traps:
- Innovation is sexy.
New and innovative products often capture the imagination of leadership across the organization who love to partake in the process. Too many cooks in the kitchen can lead to aligning around a “shiny object” as a solution that is an intriguing product but does not solve a problem that is big enough to justify the ROI.
2. Failure is not an option.
Corporate product owners are often handed an existing product and tasked with improving revenue or decreasing cost. This is ideal for legacy products and services but is a model doomed to fail for innovation labs. If innovation managers are worried that killing a product can look like failure they are inclined to limp along products that are ultimately doomed to fail. This can use valuable resources that could be applied to other more promising products in their infancy.
Bringing business development and budgeting / financial forecasting earlier into the process assists the ideation and resource allocation process by applying a framework for financial feasibility. Although this can increase the initial marketing spend it can de-risk later-stage products that are harder and more expensive to pivot.
Developing a North Star
As design sprints have become a popular, justifiably so, tool for businesses to bring multi-disciplinary teams together and develop novel concepts and products, the broad space of design and software development methodologies have edged into unfamiliar territory — data analytics.
We took the culmination of the research in the first phase of the project and narrowed it down to a specific journey and pain point/s. Pairing it with a business model that could work and Pitching the idea to the broader innovation group to decide collectively if it is worth moving forward. This is the first go/no-go decision point.
The Scrappiness factor: Focus and Prioritization
Ensuring we’re applying learnings from our mistakes and alignment amongst the (core and extended) teams which included managing
- Team dynamics
- How to keep high performers engaged with enterprise constraints
- How to navigate through Storming faster than the speed of light
- Setting up an environment where failing fast is still acceptable
- Clearing the path organizationally
The biggest takeaway from the Design Sprint is (in)validation of our riskiest assumptions. Often at the end of a Design Sprint we hear a participant say something to the tune of: “We learned more this week than we have in the last two years.”
Nothing compares with the experience of getting an awesome group of people in a (zoom) room for a week to strategically tackle your assumptions, brainstorm new ideas, bring one (or more) to life and put it to the test. A Design Sprint is a fantastic tool to (re)invigorate your team and get them fired up to move quickly on a new opportunity. It’s a problem-solving framework that puts the focus on answers (outcomes) and not just assets (outputs). But make no mistake—there are still outputs.
Oh, you wanted deliverables? We’ve got those, too. In addition to the answers to your biggest and most important strategic questions, you will get the following deliverables from a Design Sprint.
Step four of the Design Sprint process is to Prototype. These are the customer-tested prototypes of your new concept. Prototypes may include website or product concepts in Sketch or inVision or even a presentation. It depends what you’re trying to test and validate and the reactions and feedback that you collect from your customers during testing. However, we warn people not to get too attached. The shelf life of a Design Sprint prototype is intentionally very short. Sprint prototypes usually get pitched and re-invented after feedback has been collected from test subjects in step five.
If you know anything about Design Sprinting you know it involves a lot of Post-It notes. We take pictures of all the Post-It artifacts from the sprint exercises. For some organizations this is enough of a reference tool for them to take their learnings and keep running. Other teams like to take it a step further. For them, we create detailed sprint notes that detail the content of every Post-It into a tidy and organized spreadsheet. That way, as your team continues to work on the concept, they can perform searches and refer back to their exercise notes quickly and easily.
3. Sprint Capture Document
The Design Sprint isn’t over at the end of Phase Five. Thoughtful communication to important internal stakeholders will ensure your hard work finds the traction it needs to either move you forward or help you make the tough decisions. Each team we work with has their own way of sharing the information about their learnings. Some teams hold a Q&A session at the end with internal stakeholders while others have kept their post-it note gallery in-tact for an additional week so that sprint participants could give tours to their colleagues. Other teams request a more formal artifact in the form of a sharable capture document. It explains the process the team went through and the takeaways and learnings from the Design Sprint.