Learnings from an Innovation Project — Short Case Study
I received a call from a prospective client…
“Company X in the logistics sector is running an Innovation program and this is the first time they are willing to take on an outside project, are you interested in applying?”
The next day I found myself speaking to the marketing director, as I am going through a pitch about my ideas based on their initial thoughts, it became clear that I could empathize due to having spent over 12 years within the logistics industry, the insights into the problems plaguing the industry were deep.
To cut a long story short, I managed to gain approval for the project which was to be delivered via a hybrid method of in-person and remote work matching stakeholders from over 5 countries.
The problem statement we decided on was
“How may we improve collaboration between customers and our business to drive better efficiency and better ways of working”
The start of any project is critical and you at least 50% of the time you find that the Innovation team is not well planned to start the process. However, after the project kick-off meeting, all my worries were put to rest. It turned out, the project team had the entire process well planned and all I had to do is to guide people through the Innovation process.
The core Innovation team was key, as these are the people who influence the course of engagement presently and since they are the ones who encounter the problems daily they are the ones who want to improve their businesses. I also made myself available for the internal team, as a subject expert, to educate, answer questions and translate “Innovation jargon”.
Create the right environment
One thing stood out when I attended the kick-off session, the environment was bright and engaging. Workspaces were divided by whiteboards suspended from rails above that can be rolled to open the space up if necessary. The Transparent glass meeting rooms foster inclusion and collaboration and freedom of expression was apparent in the way people dress. This outlines a vital part of the Innovation process, create the right environment. I have attended and ran too many innovation sessions that are in a store cupboard with no outside light and very little space and the culture of the organisations are reflective in this.
“Stop holding Innovation sessions in a miserable environment”
In our kick-off meeting, the project sponsor led the keynote and outlined the reason for the change and how the overall business was backing this project. I was given a chance to talk about the process of Innovation, while the operators and their leaders attentively listened and took notes. I thought it would be difficult to have people comprehend the key concepts of the method that was new to them, but I was wrong. The team consisted of some of the most intelligent people I have met. Not only did they easily understand the basics, but they could also figure out the subtle nuances all on their own.
I led the process and worked hands-on with the core team in their collaboration space to help them understand and bring together the key findings that led to a new concept being developed.
Trust the Process
Using activities that are part of the FORTH innovation method and Design Thinking practices, the team interviewed users, created personas, made prototypes and collaborated endlessly. Talented and driven, they dissected the logistics industry into pieces, validated the problems and created intelligent concepts that will be the basis of the solution.
The key takeaways from this for me were…
- You have to ensure you have a project sponsor who commits to the process. Without the engagement of this person, you might as well stop the project.
- The right environment is vital, stop running your Innovation sessions in a dark, small office. Ensure you have plenty of light, wall space and room.
- Primary research with end-users is essential for building an understanding and developing empathy. Here the team was interviewing both industry professionals and clients who interact with the logistics provider.
- The innovation assignment help aligns the team around the most important goals to achieve to ensure that the project is a success. Ensure you have this laid out at the start of the process.
- Lastly, trust the process and select the right team. As this short case study has shown, having an engaged team can make or break any project so spend time building this environment.
Now that the solution is in the MVP stage (Minimum viable product), this is being tested with real users in an extended trial and the results will be due back at the end of 2020.
If you would like to understand more about this and how it can help your business, contact me or visit my website and we can have a discussion