My InnoJam: Learning the Team Sport of Design Thinking
One week ago today I was both exhausted & excited as the rising sun cast orange rays through the windows onto my determined but exhausted team.
We were 20 hours into the 32 hour InnoJam at CeBIT 2014 and had built much of what we designed hours earlier, but we still lacked key features that we grappled with realizing in the ‘new-to-us’ framework we chose: SAPUI5.
We liked the idea of SAPUI5 because it sounded like it could deliver the value to our target persona who required a quick and easy-to-use, cross-platform compatible, aesthetically appealing UI experience, and still be able to access the native device features like camera and geolocation. Not to mention we were there to learn something about SAP beyond our existing capabilities.
With the help of our devoted tech coach and various advisers we surmounted obstacles one by one as our final deadline approached. This is where I was most impressed and grateful for my team!
Members of my team actively grouped together on tasks and knocked out function after function on our kanban board while others focused on final presentation designs and key points to emphasize in the story.
In the final 6 hours, our pace quickened even as we picked up others’ work when breaks felt
necessary — for example when one of our champion coders finally fell into a deep doze in his chair. Fortunately, we managed to meet the goals of our kanban board, even if only 1 hour before our final deadline.
Repeated moments of frustration & function coding blocks could have been stagnating & deflating to us, but we were able to bounce back off of each other’s commonly held vision to find new solutions anyway! And that we did!
Our customer sponsor was pleased, we met the judging criteria well enough to qualify as finalists, and we felt good about how we worked.
In retrospect, I think My InnoJam experience can best be measured by what I learned: both about myself, my team, and the end-to-end process of idea-to-delivery/prototype presentation:
- I learned that some people are like machines and just don’t sleep. I’m not one of them. (I had to crash for at least 2hours).
- I learned that we can transform moments of despair into hope by committing to a common vision across the team.
- I learned that there are many new ideas that can arrive only after building a foundation out of previous ideas. This I see in the early prototype-feedback loops of the Design Thinking journey, and I’m still experiencing this on a higher level days after the final presentations as we decide which of the diverse next steps we might take to complete a full version of our app game.
- I learned that a team of strangers can get together and ideate and build something useful, after numerous obstacles and several would-be deflating moments of failure – all without using the words “stupid” or “bad idea”. Such a positive environment made it easier for me to release my imagination and offer crazy but fascinating (I thought 😉 ) ideas.
Beyond that, I got to learn a bit of what can be done with SAPUI5 (including inspiration from watching other teams’ results), how I work under pressure in a team with a specific goal, and get inspired by the impressive work of the 107 students I shared the room with. Additionally I got a glimpse at how SAP employees interact with people & work on teams — which is valuable insight for me when I consider what working culture might be like inside SAP.
One of my team mates made a particularly unique impression on me. I call him a “Solution Ninja” because of his continual alertness (I don’t think he ever slept) and continual seeking for the next step – I could ask him to try something crazy and he would just do it, and then come back to find a new problem to solve or a new graphic to build, or even suggest new considerations we should take and offer to handle it. At one time or another, each member of our team showed this trait.
I’m persuaded that having the right people necessarily includes having a diverse set of people who are willing to think proactively to detect and solve emergent gaps in the team dynamics.
Thanks SAP University Alliances team & all other organizers!
Thanks teammates: Chad, Heinz, Patrick, Monika, Romil, David, Bernd, Ehsan and our awesome Design Thinking coach Horst!
And thanks to the 107 brilliant students who made this a really tough and inspiring competition!
That was FUN!