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My Impressions from SAP InnoJAM & Design Thinking

Two months ago I participated in SAP’s InnoJAM in Copenhagen, I was placed in a team of 8 people with diverse technical/business/social expertise.  We were given 30 hours to come up with a technologically feasible, business viable, and user desirable application in one of four areas .. we chose innovative education.  We settled on addressing a need in public schools in Denmark… Following a methodology called “Design Thinking”, we brainstormed and developed our ideas, drew up prototypes, determined our requirement, and developed an app which we presented at the Innovation Forum.

I learned a lot from both my teammates’ expertise, in addition to tech experts (I was able to have a Senior SAP developer walk me through technical details of how to integrate my app’s needs with SAP Hana’s capabilities

Given a some dedicated time, and a group with a clear purpose, willingness to work hard, we (former strangers) could deliver quality results under pressure.

What a remarkably genial group of diverse “T-Shaped” people I was lucky enough to be a team with.  There was an extraordinary commitment positivity to all ideas (constructive feedback culture) that made it easy to offer and explore the depths of both my ideas and others.  I’d say this was key to developing the success that we realized!

I was able to speak with a previous InnoJAM winner, who was willing discuss with me my questions about her InnoJAM experience in Madrid.  It was fascinating to hear her story and thoughts firsthand.  Also along this line, it was fascinating to have various tech experts and consultants present/offer their skills and know-how to us, and we were given the opportunity to choose which would best suit our goals.

The  Design Thinking approach was interesting —  In fact, it was addictive.  The end-user centric way of looking at a challenge and the stretching our minds and ideas to creating  something viable and tangible in the end was immensely satisfying. The three Design Thinking core principles made our goals  clear and measurable: 1. User Desirable 2. Technically Feasible, and 3. Business Viable.

Reflecting on this , I have been trying to replicate the same sense of productivity.  I attribute this much of this productivity to time-boxing – which drove us to focused productivity by having to work and achieve deliverable ‘results’ as a team in fixed time periods.

I have been trying to educate my project mates and friends about Design Thinking since that experience.  I enjoy the opportunity to have a story-based approach to discussing and developing a problem/issue formulation, to get face-to-face with live potential users, and to brainstorm and develop with their persona in mind.

If Design Thinking is about having “The Right People”, then I would say we had the Right People (albeit we were randomly placed together)!  (Including the tech consultants, coaches, and experts).  This mix of interesting people provided a great learning opportunity for me, interacting in detail the minds and professional experience of different people toward a common objective.  The ideation phase put a real pull of all the corners of my mind as my team went for quantity of ideas.

Again, The most satisfying experience had to do with making something tangible in the prototype stages of design thinking.  Seeing our ideas come to real interactive reality was one thing, but it was quite another experience to be hit with the flow of new information and insight we got after interacting with the first and second tangible early iterations of our prototype.

You can see the video of our final presentation (in Danish).

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