What a whirlwind! Starting last Thursday at noon, we turned off the outside world as best we could to work on our own design ideas. 24 hours later, after plenty of sketching, lots of whiteboarding, a bit of user research, and as much design and prototyping as we could fit in, the event culminated on Friday afternoon with design presentations, a picnic and a terrific afternoon with the team.
Truth be told, it was more than just a 24 hour event. It started a few weeks ago when we collected design ideas for the Slam from the entire company. We ended up with 6 design projects and 6 different teams to work on them:
Mad*Pow Operations Monitor (M.O.M.)
As any company grows and expands their team and operations, that company will experience a certain level of growing pains. At Mad*Pow, our growing pains come in the form of space issues and unknown whereabouts. The team’s solution features a comprehensive overview of company-wide announcements, office-specific announcements, office availability, and a status of each team member.
The Glean Team
Farms routinely find themselves with a surplus of food, either left in the field or harvested and stored. In both cases, this perfectly good produce goes to waste in a short period of time. There is a huge opportunity to create a streamlined system of quickly and efficiently getting this type of food from the farms to the people who need it. The Glean Team envisioned a web-based, searchable communication hub for Farmers, gleaning event organizers, food recipient organizations and volunteers to all get the information they need quickly and easily.
When it comes to volunteering, although a lot of people would love to volunteer more, it's hard to commit to a steady schedule or to find opportunities that fit everyone's lifestyle (having kids, having no car, etc.). When it comes to finding volunteers, non-profit organizations often don't have the time or resources to find good, reliable volunteers on a moment's notice. The Karma Crew team designed a web application where volunteers can can find "quick tasks" to do for area non-profits and charity groups. Volunteers earn "karma points" based on the amount of hours they help out and can earn badges for special accomplishments.
The Quantified Self movement has exploded in recent years, with millions of Americans tracking aspects of their lives including their physiological and psychological states, their medical conditions, and the environment they live in. Measuring this data gives people insights into how they live their lives and how they can improve themselves. The team envisioned a web service that lets people easily collect and compare all of their personal quantified data in one place, and offers insights based on analyzing correlated data.
Say Say Oh Playdate
Parents everywhere desperately need a mobile app to help them understand when their child's friends (and parents) are free and where the playdate will be. To help fill this need, the team designed an easy to use industry-standard calendar and contact functionality, coupled with sophisticated features that will help moms, dads and child caregivers everywhere plan fun playdates.
Media Sharing That Doesn’t Stink
Keeping track of interesting things to share is difficult. The goal here was to create an internal, sharable, online media library where Mad*Pow staff can collect and upload digital content (articles, eBooks, videos, tutorials, audio, images), based on a shared topic of interest. Considering the overwhelming amount of content available, we’re trying to tap internal knowledge, tastes, and preferences to facilitate the process by which people find and absorb valuable, pre-qualified information. The end result is a combination of library management tools, users’ external social networked reading lists, recommendations based on preferences, and the ability for your network to recommend content that best fits your information needs right now!
As this was our first Design*Slam, we certainly learned a few lessons on how to pull off such an event. In particular, we will refine our approach to doing some preparatory work in advance of the actual event. You get more mileage out of it when you can think about a solution and do some research ahead of time. But, we’ll balance that with our other work we have going on and availability of team members.
Overall, survey results about the event were great. In particular Mad*Powians appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with folks they don’t normally work with, and spend their energy on interesting design problems with few constraints. Exactly the type of team building and creative exercise we intended. Looking forward to next year already!
2012 Design*Slam Photo Gallery