So, what exactly is a Sprint?
In working on projects, we’ve all hit a snag or potential issue that has stalled progress. To get a product from just an idea on a napkin to a tangible and functioning device takes a lot of brainstorming and foresight. The sprint methodology (developed by Google Ventures) allows for the development of interdisciplinary teams and a diversity of ideas. By understanding a patient flow (how a product may interact with different stakeholders), we can get insight on where would be a good target point for progressing a project. After identifying target points, we can begin brainstorming the best paths to take and eventually build a physical representation of an idea (whether it be a prototype or beta app). Most of the time, these are facades in which we gain user feedback that can provide invaluable information on a future direction for the project. This semester, our Brazil GMI team will take turns running our own sprints in which we get to work on each other’s projects for a week at a time (starting on Tuesdays and reporting out on Mondays). This format allows us to take advantage of utilizing individual strengths and fresh perspectives on our implementation project.
Running my Sprints
I’ve had the chance to lead two sprints for my cellphone attachment project. In the first sprint, we spent time brainstorming different attachment methods that we could potentially prototype within a week. We divided the work based on what I thought were our individual strengths. We all participated in brainstorming, and then we divided and conquered. Ryan was put in charge of CADing and 3D-printing prototypes, I was in charge of developing a testing protocol in which we could analyze the best design and Anna was put in charge of getting user feedback. We were able to finish our first prototype (even though there were certainly some technical challenges involved). This prototype featured a spring clip design that would allow the user to easily snap on and snap off the device.
In the second sprint for my project, we wanted to finish up loose ends we had from our first sprint and also continue the prototyping phase. One of our other design ideas involved a magnetic attachment system that would allow easy snap-on and off functionality (like the design before), however, this requires a two-piece setup and is a little clunkier as of now. Integrating electrical components to power the LED and integrate USB charging was what I had been working on. After some initial feedback from Dr. Richardson, we thought it would be good to include a design study on the form factor of a potential device. One major consideration that Anna has been evaluating is the question of having a sleeker, more fragile profile vs. a stouter, more robust device. Of course, there are pros and cons to each, so this is definitely a sprint-worthy question!
Reflections on what I’ve Learned
On the Mondays of our sprints (the report out), we always have an opportunity to sit down with our teams and ask what we believe we did well, and things we can improve (we refer to these as “plus/deltas”). When running my first sprint, I can honestly say that there could have some better foresight on my part. One thing we try to eliminate in delegating sprint roles is interdependency. The idea is for each group member to be completely autonomous and accountable in their work. One of my sprint goals relied heavily on the completion of another objective. Although I wanted to remain aggressive in our idea generation and prototyping, in reality we encountered some snags that lessened our pace. But of course, as you run more sprints, you become more efficient and have better discernment in deciding where to funnel focus and energy. Overall, it has been a great experience working more collaboratively while also having the opportunity to work on my leadership and communication skills.