When big ideas become reality

Go big or go home?

A big organisation generally has big blockers to change and people who aren’t willing to take big leaps into the unknown. But I’m a big ideas person and I like to drive teams and organisations to take big leaps. I’m the plant. I get planted into a project team to get imaginations and big ideas flowing, to connect the right people together and to make sure the project’s vision and objectives are not forgotten about along the way.

So, when I was pulled in to work on a global bank’s big digital HR project, I was excited. I had worked with many of the team leaders before and this was our chance to make a very big difference to the way HR interacted with more than 70,000 employees in 52 countries.

One of my first tasks was to mock up a design of the landing page of the new digital portal for a senior management meeting. Which I did, without any previous knowledge of the cloud-based software, it’s features or it’s limitations.

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive – it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?” 

― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Big ideas and big lessons

My imagination and creativity went wild in the excitement of it all. I had big ideas for this project! But I was soon reigned in as the design committee debated the strategy and vision. We eventually agreed to a design that was supported by UX data we’d gathered in a previous project. And that’s how I became the UX manager and UI design lead.

In the 11 sprints that followed, our squad designed, developed and tested the new platform using Agile methodology. We experimented with the software. We learned about web application design principles and making the platform accessible to all users. We did concept testing, focus groups and surveys with end-users. We let the data guide us. We used it to encourage stakeholders and senior management to get on board with our big ideas.

When we failed, we learned from it and we adapted. When testing told us that something wasn’t going to work, we learned from it and we adapted. When we were limited by software or development, we learned from it and we adapted. But when faced resistance to our big ideas, we pushed back and went ahead with our think-big approach.

In the weeks leading up to our launch date, I talked with the team about feedback and what to expect. We were going live to a global audience with a platform that was new and different. It didn’t matter how much we prepared our stakeholders or how many hours of extra work we put in to fix things. When we went live some things would break and the impact could be big. So, together we mentally prepared for critical feedback and disruption to the business.

“It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?” 

― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Have fun with it

The new platform MVP was launched to the entire organisation in the first week of May.

In the ten days since our “go-live” date, we’ve had a few disappointed end-users, 50 defects to be fixed and some negative feedback regarding our decision to go-live without auto-translate enabled. So, we’re still developing and testing and getting ready for several more releases and improvements to be made over the coming months.

But the positive feedback to our UI, UX and big ideas has been wonderful. UX designers and project leads throughout the business have reached out and asked for support on their own projects. And our stakeholders are inspired and excited about our big ideas.

It was a big team effort and I’m very proud of how we pulled it all together. Our big ideas really paid off.

“Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.” 

― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

One of my colleagues reached out to me a few days after the launch. She congratulated me on the good work and impressive, modern design and then said: “I remember at the very beginning of it all, you said “let’s have fun with it!”. I’m so glad to see that you’ve achieved that.”

So am I.

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