I had the pleasure of participating in Sydney Water’s inaugural Innovation Festival held between October 19 and October 21. The event brought together strategic partners, industry thought-leaders, and key stakeholders from Sydney Water, as well as numerous interested participants.
The challenge was to take a fresh look at matters ranging from making Sydney Harbor swimmable to amplifying the voices of Aboriginal peoples.
Wipro’s role was to power the innovation sprints. Our weapon of choice for innovation was the tried and tested Google Design Sprint. A design sprint is a week-long co-creation extravaganza that helps to answer critical business questions through rapid ideation, prototyping, and testing with customers.
My role in all of this was to facilitate the sprint and keep the team on track for the next five days. A design sprint normally involves your team huddled together in a room, collaborating closely, but given how unsocial 2021 has been so far, we had to adapt the format to work virtually.
I've done my fair share of workshops over the years, but this was the first time I've run a fully virtual design sprint with a group that had never worked with each other before. It was challenging but extremely rewarding. And while I still prefer face-to-face, I must say that the format worked exceptionally well.
We kicked off Day 1 with expert interviews and, as the week progressed, we slowly shifted our focus away from defining the problem to designing the solution. It was an intense five days, and I think it's fair to say the team pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone. At the end of each day, everyone (myself included) was exhausted. But the team kept showing up the next morning with smiles on their faces ready to do it all again!
So, what did we set out to do, and did we achieve it? Let's start with the former. The challenge my team set for itself was to:
Connect people with actionable insights to create value for themselves and their communities.
What does that mean exactly? Our theme was focused on sustainability and Sydney Water's role in empowering people to understand the impact that they and businesses have on the environment. The end game is to encourage more sustainable behavior from individuals and businesses alike.
But how, I hear you ask? That’s a great question. Sydney Water has access to a wealth of data, ranging from your water usage to the water quality of your local beach. Much of this data isn't currently available to the general public so the winning service concept focused on bringing this data to life as a digital service.
Here is a small taste of the features that the concept included:
Did the prototype test well? The short answer is yes. The team also received lots of great insights that will allow them to further refine and pivot the service.
I'm excited to see where Sydney Water takes the concept. Hopefully, we'll see an incarnation of this idea in the market in the not-too-distant future.
Until then, as my four-year-old always tells me, "Don't leave the tap on while you brush your teeth."
Mikael is a Digital Product Specialist with a mixed design and engineering background. He's spent the last 17 years working in digital consultancies and agencies, focusing on large-scale, end-to-end digital transformational programs from strategy and design through technical delivery.
Before joining Wipro, Mikael was Head of Delivery at AKQA, where he led the product and program management team. Mikael has worked for the likes of Deloitte Digital and Accenture Interactive, among others.