Lean Everywhere: How I initiated a Sprint in an EU-funded project

Lean Everywhere: How I initiated a Sprint in an EU-funded project

When I came across the Sprint book, I immediately had the desire to run a “week of Sprint” and see how effective it could be. The problem of how we could develop innovative solutions faster and more effectively was there, but the challenge was even greater as I worked for a University, doing research on EU-funded projects. So,  I had to find the perfect timing for introducing the concept of a 5-day prototyping session, and run my experiment.

My first attempt was to prototype the second release of an existing product we developed, called Anlzer; a tool for social media analytics. The prototyping week was booked, but when the week was approaching, the project deliverables were prioritized and we dropped the idea of prototyping. I knew there was no meaning for catching up one month later, as the tool would have been in the development process based on the plan; unfortunately developing a tool under a project has lot of bureaucracy to overcome.

Nevertheless, the seed was there, and when our team got a new project on maritime big data called BigDataOcean, I was asked to organize the sprint. Still I knew that booking 5 days in a period of intense work for us – a project-oriented research lab – was impossible. Thus, I decided to propose the least effort from our side. I asked for one day, fully booked, and I asked from my team to do some preparation in advance. We made it to complete one and a half “days” in one day. Apart from tired, the team was so excited about the outcomes that we booked another day of prototyping without thinking of it. At the end the team came up with the desired customer map, its focus on a certain step, and multiple interesting ideas for possible solutions. The detailed outcomes are available here.

At the end, I had to “think Lean” to change my team’s mentality. I believe my team is now more prone to run a 5-day, full prototyping session; The next time we will want to come up with solutions, a “Sprint” will be our first option. We can still master it, but the first step to change our mindset has been done, and I am proud about it. So, don’t forget that you can be Lean everywhere