First Nitor Design Camp focused on the Design Sprint

Oct 19, 2017, 3:29 PM

The inaugural Nitor Design Camp tackled Google Venture's Design Sprint with a cross-disciplinary team of designers and coders.

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Uniting two camps

Nitor’s Code Camps have become an important event for Nitorians. Code Camps are weekends where people get to spend quality time together at a cabin and focus on their personal and shared coding projects without any outside disturbance.

With the growth of Nitor’s design team and the need for more cross-disciplinary activities between coders and designers, we decided to arrange our first ever Design Camp.

Because we wanted the camp to be a group activity, we chose a design method that would force us to work together and accommodate different types of people – not just the ones who can draw.


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Design Sprint is a method for agile delivery

We ended up with an accelerated 2-day version Google Venture’s Design Sprint. Disclaimer: None of us think it’s ideal to squeeze the normally 5-day sprint into two days! However, two days gave us just enough time to try out the method in practice without stopping anyone from attending.

In essence, a design sprint is an attempt to solve a critical problem through rapid design, prototyping, and testing.

According to Google Venture, a Design Sprint is “a ‘greatest hits’ of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more—packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.”

The benefit of running a design sprint is that you can test your idea in a short amount of time and get clear feedback from a realistic prototype. You start with an ill-defined problem and end up with a tested solution.

Fast prototyping and agile delivery are essential to Nitor’s core values. We know from experience that early testing of prototypes reveals pitfalls and opportunities at a stage where it is still inexpensive to change course. The design sprint is another tool in our agile delivery toolkit.


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Design Challenges

With 20 eager Nitorians (and two design dogs) joining us at the camp, we decided to split into two groups who would work in parallel on a different design challenge with their own stakeholders.

The first group focused on onboarding new employees both practically and culturally to the Nitor community. The team settled on the sprint question of “How can we empower Nitorians to drive the company vision?” During the sprint, the team decided to tackle the question with two solution prototypes, one focusing on incorporating our Kamu (Buddy) peer-support person with the onboarding even before an employee’s first day. The second prototype addressed challenges in covering all the different areas of onboarding from getting all the accounts to learning about Nitor internal projects through an app.

The second group focused on solving the challenge of answering and tracking dozens of doodles that are involved in our events and trips for over 100 people. The team formulated the sprint question as “How do we make the signup process easier for employees and organizers?” During the sprint, the team was able to dig into the root causes of signup problems. Based on the ground work, they created a prototype for an app that will show all event signups with clear deadlines, to-dos and tracking.


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HOW WE SQUEEZED FIVE DAYS inTO TWO

As we were pressed for time we divided the Design Sprint into two parts: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were combined into a single day of mapping the current process and sketching solutions, and Thursday and Friday formed a day of frantic prototyping leading up to user tests.

The results of the sprint were encouraging and every team was ready to develop their prototype further as internal projects based on the user feedback. We loved how the process took us from chaos to clarity and enabled everyone from Designers and Developers to People Ops specialists to meaningfully collaborate.

Overall, the camp was a great opportunity to collaborate in cross-disciplinary teams and spend time together. Villa Stenberg in Lohja provided a great setting for spending quality time together with people from all over the company. We even included some light exercise in the form of a missing dog rescue operations, when our design dog Indy took off into the Lohja wilderness. Thankfully he returned home an hour later!

PS. If you want to join our next Design Camp, we’re looking for Digital Designers to join our team of digital engineers!

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Authors

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Otso Hannula is Nitor's resident Service Designer, Researcher and a lean-agile coach. Otso is interested in digital services, co-design and Lean UX, and he is currently finishing his dissertation on using design games in service design at Aalto University. Any time he can steal from design and research, Otso spends playing all kinds of games from PC and mobile to board games and larp.

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Annina Kivikari is a Designer with skills ranging from digital design and moving image to marketing. She is also part of Nitor's award-winning Kulttuuritoimitus.