What was learned at Camp?

Eve from Snook, one of our evaluators, shares her views about the learning from camp. 

Applying the agile methodology (see our last blog post here) to their various projects, the Tech For Good teams arrived at valuable insights, new problems and, in some cases, some healthy confusion. In this post, we outline some of the key learnings from the camp.

Agile ways of working

Most fundamentally, teams used the camp to better visualise their project plans. This was particularly important for teams that would be working remotely and to different schedules, such as WESC’s multidisciplinary team. A Disrupt Disability team member said that the degree of structure he gained through the camp to relay to the wider project team would not have been possible without the exercises. The Shelter team refined what they felt was possible in a four-month timeframe, and built contingency into their plans, as a result of the various planning exercises.

Shifting assumptions

The second key theme in this regard is the identification of new assumptions. This is not surprising, given identifying assumptions is a key tenet of the agile methodology. Some teams struggled to pick assumptions to focus on that they can reasonably close within the 4 months programme.

Team Oxfam saw their core assumption shift: from the assumption that food banks offer little ongoing financial resilience support, to the assumption that services want to build financial-resilience support to the assumption that, given financial resilience is key to food security, food-bank staff should refer users to Quidsin.

Other teams gathered more specific insights, relating to a particular assumption. The Shelter team, for instance, realised they had paid too little attention to testing the assumption that the simple intervention of a digital button would solve the problem. This, in turn, had led to an inability to fully articulate why – or whether – their intervention was needed. Similarly, the Women’s Aid team realised they had not tested the assumption that young women would indeed use their service and the context around it. For their part, one of the assumptions the Alexandra Rose team identified was that their voucher printers could print barcodes. Finally, the Bristol Braille team shifted their focus from the physical design of their Canute e-reader to user need, realising they had failed to test assumptions relating to demand.

From assumptions to prioritising things to test

This points us to the third grouping of lessons: the need for more user research. Bristol Braille and Oxfam both decided they needed further user research, around user demand and user experience before using the QuidsIn card, respectively. The Shelter team went one step further and decided they needed a UX designer and user researcher.

Understanding key problems

The fourth key theme in terms of what the teams learned during the camp was a clearer sense of the key problems and potential obstacles they faced. This arose largely from the journey mapping exercise. The WESC team, for example, identified problems around data permissions as a critical juncture – one with the potential to hinder further checkpoints. Similarly, they identified a key collaborator who had the potential to become a bottleneck.

The teams learned all manner of other lessons – some pronounced, some subtle. The aim of this blogpost has been to outline the key themes and to note the way they followed from the tenets of the agile methodology, outlined in the previous blogpost, that ran throughout the camp.


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