Idea generation AGILE style: Product design sprints

Idea generation - light bulb moment

Following a very insightful NUXUK workshop by @TomBradley at the BBC, I thought it would be good to share and talk about idea generation in the agile environment.

Those of you in HE, Local Government and other Public Services will have problems with idea generation and especially turning ideas into working concepts. Time, physical resources and monetary resource, never mind buy-in to Continual Improvement, will block most attempts to make an improvement to your website. No doubt you are frustrated.

Sometimes you will get an idea live but this will take months if not years to deploy and by then you’ve forgotten the benefit to the idea or the idea is dated and of no use to the end user.

You will get even more frustrated when you see other sectors moving faster and wishing you could deploy ideas as timely as them.

But what if you knew people like the BBC turn ideas into proven solutions in 5 days! Ok, the beeb have a lot of resources, but you would be surprised to know only a few people are involved here. It’s not just the BBC either; Government Digital Service (GDS) are the brains behind the and have similar idea sessions (or hack days) over just 3 days!

So how can I turn innovative ideas to solutions in 5 days?

The method/ technique used is one perfectly explained at Google Ventures

A key part to the process (and why I’m involved) is that the process is built on the basis of insights and understanding. This isn’t just quantitative data, but qualitative. You need to think like the end user, understand their needs, their actions, their problems, what makes them happy etc.

Some key notes about the process:

  • User Centric: Start and End think end user! Start – understand from insights. End – learn from testing gathering further insights.
  • Keep terminology open: “what else”, “how might we”
  • Keep the sprints/ days into compact sessions. Check in and check out, don’t allow slippage.
  • Accept you might not get it right, but always learn
  • Design (and thus User Experience) is the responsibility of all. Work together.

Some further reading from the GDS blog is below:

Also a blog entry from Dan Ramsden at the BBC


The other key ingredient to this is having an organisation that buy-ins to this culture for measurement and continual improvement. As mentioned in my previous blog a key tool to creating the culture is planting the seed with key individuals. Start by sending them the google ventures link!



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Posted in Improvements, Insights

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