Kicking off the UNLOCK program by creating visions for the future

Building on last year’s best practices, the UNLOCK kick off event 2021 was two-fold: While the first day focused around getting to know each other and creating a joint base for collaboration, the second day was dedicated to creating project visions. Specifying their vision will help guide the participating teams through the program and push them towards their ultimate goal. This is how we did it.

  • WMDE allgemein
  • 13. July 2021

Part One: Creating the base for collaboration

Opening up about your hopes and dreams and also feeling comfortable enough to collaborate on these visions with others requires a safe working environment. This is why we designed this year’s kick off event to enable just that. We started with small activities to get to know each other better as individuals, both in smaller breakouts as well as within the entire group. Some fun facts: We learned that all participants have siblings, most are musically gifted playing instruments like the guitar, piano and trumpet, but only two have pets.

We then worked with the participants to develop their values for collaboration with the intention to include them in our UNLOCK playbook. The deepest discussion was about whether humor is a value that we should strive for in cooperation, or if it is rather the result of good collaboration when the other values are successfully lived up to. Any way you look at it – sounds like the next three month should be a lot of fun. Next to humor, good listening, empathy, commitment to shared goals, curiosity, honesty and vulnerability were agreed upon as the most important values to look for in this context. 

Part Two: Formulating a grand vision for our projects

Once we made sure that we are all pulling in the same direction and created a clear understanding that we are in this program together as a community, the teams met their coaches and got to work on the so-called “vision work”: The teams documented their current project status, formulated a vision for tomorrow, and drew up an outlook for where the project should be in two years’ time, including some specific next steps on what to focus on next in their project development process. 

Every team was given three minutes to present their project to the whole cohort on the basis of their vision work. We later evaluated that it was a really tough schedule, but the teams managed it perfectly. The other participants shared their feedback, suggestions and questions to the teams through an “idea showering” exercise, providing their outside view to the projects. That created a lot of valuable input which they could already take to the design sprint. 

Curious to learn more about the projects? Their ideas and visions are documented here:

Bonus: Creating commitment by building rocket ships 

The kick off event focused on creating a team driven by joint values and an understanding of our mission. To help visualize this the participants were confronted with a speedy design challenge to build paper rocket ships in no more than ten minutes. The rocket ships represent how we will steer through the upcoming months together, across all bumps and challenges that still lie ahead on our way to the finish line, the Demo Day, where all teams will present their program results. The challenge was also a great exercise to get into a physical working mode, which very much embodies the spirit of the UNLOCK Accelerator.

What next? First steps in turning the vision into reality in our Design Sprint

But how will we turn these visions into reality? The kick off event was followed by a so-called Design Sprint, our first working week and a fast-paced look at the teams’ product development processes. Each team worked together with their coach who individually tailored the week to the needs of their team.

The coaches first set out to understand the needs of the teams, where they would most benefit from, what the necessary next steps are and what kind of coaching and methods best fit the team dynamics and intentions.

Here are some insights:

For the team from FollowTheVote, which was already quite far in their product development process, the coaches decided to go one step back and get a closer look at the user needs. The team had the great learning that moving one step backwards is part of moving forward. Thereby they got new perspectives and learned new working methods for their way straight into product launch. 

The project saw a great need in breaking down visions, ideas, and concepts across different disciplinary backgrounds into feasible steps. By the end of the week they had mastered this and even created wireframes, user stories and learned a lot about working methods for their own product development. 

At the start of the week OpenSpeaks was challenged by finding the right persons for user testing because they have a really special target group. By the end of the week they already tested their prototype and got valuable input on how to work on it. 

The team of Government Online Presence Directory started right into designing the user interface by considering the needs of their potential users that they interviewed. They developed a high-level time plan for the next three months and already started with frameworks and wireframes to get an idea of what the product might look like

For the team of ThinkTwise it was challenging to specify their abstract problem statement. For this it was very helpful to sketch things out and visualize the idea with storyboards. At the end of the week they had already created a klick-dummy that gives an impression of how the product might function and what it could look like.

These insights show an impression of what it takes to turn a vision into a prototype. It also gives an idea how different the needs of the various teams in the different project phases are and how individually the UNLOCK coaches approach them. 

To find out how the projects are progressing stay tuned – we will keep you up to date!