Rod Willmott recently took on the role of Fast Track (Innovation) Director at LV. This article provides a brief overview of the role and highlights some of the initial successes.
Rod is leading the challenge of keeping LV thinking and working as a ‘Big Small Company’ through facilitation of innovative thinking and fresh approaches to problems. The challenge is not finding good or new ideas, there are plenty of them, but about bringing them to life creatively and bringing people along on the journey.
The key objective of the role is to assist the organisation in getting products to market faster and enabling business processes to be changed faster than can be achieved using traditional approaches; crucially to enable concepts to be ‘market tested’ that would otherwise die in the queue for a big project ticket.
The main thrust of the Fast Track Difference has been the use of collaborative and iterative working, alongside modern model driven tools and component frameworks to drive very rapid system delivery. This approach, in contrast to the traditional definition of a large BRD / Design / Build has significantly accelerated system delivery. This has allowed LV to ‘prove’ not only that the system delivery objective is achievable for a new concept, but has also energised the business contributors and allowed a much clearer and earlier view of what the operational process definition needs to be.
This has been done using two different approaches:
1. Use of collaboration tools tightly linked to the Agile process, where requirements are submitted and commented on in digestible user stories, the collaboration tools allowing discussion among groups without waiting for a ‘meeting’ and enabling direct communication between business owners and technical staff with no barriers. The user stories are taken directly into the SCRUM process and used to define system component builds. This is mainly achieved within the Mendix platform.
2. Use of more radical approaches such as ‘Challenge 48’. The aim of Challenge 48 is to produce a new product or business process in 48 hours. A multi-disciplinary team work together using a workshop based approach for 48 hours and aim to define and emerge with an implemented and working new product or process. This approach requires the use of ‘Fast Track’ technologies in order to implement the solution in such a short timescale. The workshops cover system definition and build but also deployment methodology, marketing concepts, training and deployment outlines to name a few.
The net result is very rapid empowerment of the business users that allows them to see a result in days and also feel part of the outcome. LV have also seen that they can empower people who are traditionally not consulted fully in a system design, i.e. those who eventually sit in front of the system. The learning is that they have as much to add as the executive contributors in these rapid methodolgies.
LV have been following the innovative approach of other companies such as O2 in respect of how to enable idea incubation and are also partnering with some of the more specialised advisory panels in respect of the future for advanced IT thinking.
Watch this space for further updates on how LV and Rod continue to trail blaze in this interesting area. If you’d like to offer feedback, share your experience or ask a question, please don’t hesitate to email me.
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