In 2019, Moonshot announced that we’d joined the Chicago Connectory, an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, IoT startups, corporate innovators and creative minds driving IoT innovation for Chicago, the Midwest, and beyond. Our goal was simple: accelerate the global adoption of human-centric IoT experiences in areas such as industry 4.0, mobility, smart cities, and connected construction. Back then, we had no idea that a global pandemic would act as a catalyst in the adoption of IoT to solve business problems. As the global conditions have accelerated the adoption of IoT, we have doubled down on our involvement with the Connectory to help lead with a human-centric mindset.

Over the past two years we have launched the Design Sprints with Moonshot, a monthly workshop series for design sprint enthusiasts and practitioners to learn effective techniques to apply right away. With the pandemic hitting with full force in March, we’ve turned those in-person workshop into virtual workshops.

Now we’re taking virtual collaboration to another level with the introduction of the IoT Concept Sprint. As the name implies, this process gives teams a recipe for co-creating a human-centered IoT solution, relying on the visual virtual collaboration power of MURAL. Here’s a brief breakdown of how the recipe works through a recent session with the Connectory in Chicago and Curitiba.

1 Break the Ice with an Energizer

As with any collaborative workshop (and most meetings), it’s important to kick things off with an energizer. This is even more important for virtual sessions. Online warm-ups and energizers are short, team-building exercises aimed at overcoming shyness and boosting energy with a group of distributed people.

Once the energizer is complete, it’s important to set the stage with a structured agenda, including an explanation of the purpose of the workshop and the mechanics for sharing ideas through the MURAL interface. This is especially useful for participants who are new to MURAL and online collaboration in general.

2 Creation of an Empathy Map

An empathy map is a tool that teams can use to put themselves in the mindset of the key persona (customer, user, etc.). By focusing on what the key persona is thinking and feeling, seeing, saying and doing, and hearing, teams are able to gain empathy for the challenges and opportunities facing the key persona. This is important because by starting with this human-centric mindset, teams are able to carry these hypothetical challenges and opportunities  forward into ideation of potential solutions.

3 “How Might We” + Ideation

A key aspect of design thinking is a technique called How Might We (HMW). HMWs, or opportunity questions, help teams reframe the challenges and pain points from the empathy map into invitations to explore what’s possible. HMWs are important because it is easier for teams to generate ideas when they are in an open, optimistic headspace (i.e., thinking about what’s possible vs. what’s feasible). I like to think of as a HMW as an invitation to possibility.

With a HMWs, participants use virtual sticky notes to propose potential solutions in rapid-fire fashion, and we upvote on them until we converge around a single solution.

4 Concept Co-creation, Sharing, and Refinement

This is where the team converges on a single idea, and fleshes the idea out using the IoT Experience Canvas. The IoT Experience Canvas makes it easy for teams to co-create the nitty-gritty details of the IoT solution, including a primary audience, concept summary, business value, emotions, product-user relationship, and hardware required, among many other elements.

For sessions where there are multiple groups, this portion of the workshop is where the individual teams come together as a larger group. Each team brings their completed IoT Experience Canvas forward, pitching an overview of their idea in two minutes. Once each team has shared their respective concept, the entire group of participants conducts a heatmap exercise, where each individual is given 10-to-20 virtual dots to place on the specific aspects of a concept that resonates with them. The purpose of this exercise is to indicate which parts of each concept resonate the most with individuals. 

5 Clarify Next Steps and Reflect

Here, we close the loop by conducting a retrospective and clearly identifying next steps to keep the momentum going. As the name implies, reflections and next steps allows everyone to ask questions such as:

  • How did the process work for them?
  • How did the process make them feel?
  • What would they do differently?

This is a rewarding time of day when teams celebrate their accomplishments, and it’s also an opportunity to identify ways to refine the process for future use.

What’s Next

Our recent roll-out of the IoT Concept Sprint was a first of many more ideation sessions. Here are some reasons I’m especially excited about the process:

  • It’s collaborative. The ability to bring global teams together across time and space is so important for teams and businesses looking to accelerate momentum during these uncertain times. The IoT Concept Sprint is collaborative by nature, tapping into the powers of co-creation to inspire creativity and accelerate execution.
  • It’s visual. The use of MURAL enables a more fluid, compelling way for teams to see solutions come together in front of their eyes.
  • It’s human-centric. This workshop format is not just human-centric in terms of leading the ideation of IoT solutions by starting with people, but also the rhythm of the workshop itself is mindful of the audience – allowing times for breaks,  mindfulness exercises, and listening to music.

As we collectively figure out how to come together to co-create new solutions and experiences in our ever-changing times, it’s important that we do so with an abundance mindset. Together we will be able to overcome the challenges brought forth by the pandemic, especially as it relations to solving real problems with disruptive technologies like IoT. We are excited to continue testing and learning new ways to bring global teams together, and are looking forward to learning from future teams.

See also “Introducing the Mindful AI Canvas

Mike Edmonds

Mike Edmonds

Managing Director, VP Product

Bitnami