Eat, sleep, hack, repeat
If you are used to working in an agile environment, the process of sprinting will be a very familiar concept.
A sprint (usually) comes at the implementation stage of a project. At LGSS Digital, this is when the devs get their heads down and flex those coding muscles.
Sprinting isn’t often done at the design stage because we find getting access to people, gathering stats, mapping journeys and then pulling it all together takes time.
However, we like to shake things up in the LGSS Digital team. And so, we decided to see if we could run a week-long design sprint!
We certainly weren’t the pioneers of this idea and we pretty much followed the guidance of Jake Knapp’s book – Sprint – to the letter. It’s a great book, but we did change the name from “sprint” to “hack” because we think it sounds cooler.
Kat Sexton and I worked with colleagues from the transformation team, learning disabilities team and adult learning and skills team in Cambridge. We defined our “ultimate goal” for the hack as follows:
Build aspirations and opportunities for people with additional needs to gain and maintain employment
- Monday we heard from experts
- Tuesday we picked where to focus and sketched possible solutions
- Wednesday we picked a solution and created a storyboard
- Thursday we used the storyboard to build the prototype
- Friday we demoed the prototype to our experts and gathered feedback
There will be a more detailed look at the week soon, however I wanted to use this opportunity to write about my experiences, fears and lessons.
All I can say is, goodness me! We achieved an incredible amount in just one week! It really highlighted what you can accomplish when people have a drive to make things better and are willing to try something new.
One of my favourite aspects of the week was the continuous energy from everyone. I think a lot of that was to do with the core rules from the book which are:
- Look after the humans! (make sure food and drink is always available)
- No devices!
I can tell you, it’s extraordinarily liberating being told to whack that out-of-office on, put phones on silent and just focus on the hack.
With those distractions removed, I allowed myself the time and space to learn, be curious, experiment and reflect.
It’s extraordinarily liberating being told to whack that out-of-office on, put phones on silent and just focus on the hack
Look after the humans!
“What if the experts don’t turn up?”
In general, finding people to research with is one of the hardest aspects of the design phase, but it’s crucial, as it’s where you capture those precious user needs.
Inviting people to come to Cambridge on Monday and Friday afternoon is a big ask.
I really needn’t have worried because there are some incredibly dedicated and passionate people out there who were more than happy to lend their time
Finding people to research with is one of the hardest aspects of the design phase of any project, but it’s crucial as it’s where you capture those precious user needs.
The hack is all about working as a team and so there was never the pressure for one individual to be creative all the time. We all contributed ideas and our “deciders” made a choice on what path to follow. This stopped the “…but what if?” thoughts that can often block creativity and made sure you didn’t get invested in an idea that didn’t get taken forward. The week moves too fast for that!
The hack is all about working as a team and so there was never the pressure for one individual to be creative all the time.
So what next…?
There is so much more I could say, and I will, as it feels like the beginning of something really special. The LDHack was the first of its kind for us and we all wanted to make it a success.