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How to Keep Moving and Be More Innovative

Over the last few years, we’ve learned a lot at Fieldwork about how important it is — for us and our clients — to keep moving, improve quickly and incrementally, surface opportunities, and reduce risk on higher cost projects. The model we’re currently using works for single projects and whole organisations, and we apply it, in one way or another, across everything we do. Here’s an overview.

1. Build Knowledge

Gather useful data and information, process and analyse it to gain insights, present research and insights in useful ways, and give it to people who can use it. The most fruitful research tends to be around the ways that your users or customers interact with your organisation. It’s also useful to map out your people and processes, the broader landscape you occupy, and gather inspiration from a variety of sources.

Useful tools & techniques…

Interaction Blueprint — draw a map of the interactions people have with your organisation. Start with the customer, and run through their journey with you from beginning to end, plotting each touchpoint along the way. Start rough and gradually increase fidelity as you gather information.

Field Research — experience the touchpoints you’ve identified firsthand, and ask real users/customers about their experiences with each of them. This is a a great way to flesh out an Interaction Blueprint and add detail.

Interview Experts — find the people in your organisation who have deep experience of specific interaction points, and talk to them. Ask open questions and dig into the interesting new information that comes up.

Show and Tell — gather a small team and task each person to bring an example of something they think works well, and present it to the rest of the group in three minutes. Inspiration can come from anywhere: within your organisation, or somewhere else in another field entirely.

2. Experiment and Test

Use your base of research and insights to identify opportunities, then generate ideas, build prototypes, and test with your users or customers.

Useful tools & techniques…

Define Success — write a clear and concise statement about what you hope to achieve with this opportunity.

Sketch Concepts — pick an opportunity, gather a small team, refresh your research and insights, then get to work individually to invent solutions and sketch them out as storyboards. It’s best if each person works on their own, and has time to put some real thought into it.

Prototyping — gives you a way to test your assumptions, answer some of the unknowns, and gain clarity on the best way forward before committing to an expensive implementation. It’s important to make prototypes that help you answer specific questions, and make them realistic enough — in the test context — to give you useful data.

Design Sprints — as developed by Google Ventures, provide a process for starting with a big or risky challenge, designing a solution, and testing it with real users, all in just five days. There are variations on this process that can help reduce risk and answer unknowns quickly in lots of different situations.

3. Implement

Develop and roll out your validated concepts. This is the phase that traditionally has most of the focus — understandably, because it tends to be where most of the costs are — but by doing the up front work to identify your strongest opportunities and validate ideas, you can commit more confidently to developing and launching a concept.

4. Iterate

The testing and learning isn’t done after you roll out your new solution. Build in analytics and user/customer testing so that you understand the impact the project has. Use your definition of success to design feedback loops that give you data you can use to iterate and improve. During implementation, design ways to make iteration low cost wherever possible.

Innovation isn’t usually the result of a one-off project. By building elements of these things in as regular processes and ways of working, organisations can create an environment that encourages innovation and consistent forward motion.

If you’d like more detail about specific techniques, or how we might be able to work with you, get in touch.