Folks here at Mad*Pow are passionate about designing new, engaging, and useful experiences. Like all designers, as we go through the world, we can’t help thinking about creative ideas, better ways to do things, or cool new applications. Sometimes, though, there is just not enough time in the day to do anything with all those ideas.
Well, this month at Mad*Pow we’re doing something about that. We’re really excited to be conducting our first company-wide Design Slam where people will have the opportunity to work collaboratively on a set of new ideas.
So what’s a Design Slam? I’m not really sure if there is an official definition. But, what we are doing is setting aside some dedicated time for groups of teams to come together to work on a new product or design idea - bringing it to life in the form of a vision prototype, mockups, or working code. The “Slam” part comes from the fact that it will be a bit of a competition that takes place over a specified day and half in June.
We’ll start on a Thursday and teams will have until Friday afternoon to brainstorm ideas, sketch solutions, and design and code as much as they can for a presentation to the rest of the company. It’s going to be a fun, intense, and energetic two days! A company wide vote on the most creative, innovative, intuitive and strategically viable design will determine the team with bragging rights for the next year.
So how about the new product ideas? What will we be working on? In true Mad*Pow fashion, we crowd-sourced the set of 6 ideas that different teams will be working on. We had 34 people submit 48 different ideas. Totally awesome and inspiring what people came up with – new products that would help folks in need, apps for charitable organizations, new ideas for healthcare and financial services, or just plain fun experiences (the Tommy Heinsohn homer quote tracker being one of my favorites). In the end, we settled on 6 new product ideas that aim to help individuals, charities or other organizations. More on the specific ideas coming in a post-Slam blog post ;)
Right now teams are doing a little research in preparation for the Design Slam to start. They’re checking out competitors to these ideas, interviewing stakeholders or noodling on ideas. We’re encouraging the personal brainstorming and sketching by giving folks sketchbooks specifically for the Design Slam. Always be sketching! Our goal is for teams to be ready to hit the ground running when we say go.
Obviously, the idea to carve out time from every day work to explore new ideas and be creative is not unique (Google 20% time, and tons of others). But we’re really excited for the Design Slam as a good fit for us. We think this activity will help us strengthen individual and team relationships, learn about new subject areas, and be inspired by working with subject areas we don’t normally get to work with. And to boot, we hope to have some cool designs that we can build on to help charitable organizations or others in our network.
Looking forward to reporting back on how it goes!