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Innovation Time: Introducing A New CUBE Initiative

Over the past few months, I’ve been managing a new initiative at CUBE, Innovation Time. It’s given me a chance to help develop the teams' skills and ideas that they’re interested and passionate about. Members of our team are given a week to work on personal projects of their choosing, be it apps, prototypes, and other digital solutions, I wanted to share our process, projects and learnings.

4 min read



What is Innovation Time?

It all started with a problem…

Our passion is collaborating with innovative organisations to pioneer Tech For Good which has global, social impact.

But as anyone who works in this industry knows, it’s not always possible for the team to find time to work on personal projects they’re passionate about.

Not anymore.

Over the next few months, each member of our team will be spending a week working on personal projects of their choosing. Be it an interest, challenge, hobby or passion, my aims are to:

  1. Help the team focus on a specific problem they could solve.
  2. Support their ideas by starting conversations and sharing ideas.
  3. Prepare, organise and help out where I can across the five days… It’s not always easy, trust me.

How do you manage innovation?

Trying to build something you’ve never done before or interacting with technology you are not familiar with can be daunting. But the one thing you should always bear in mind?

The deliverable needs to be realistic and achievable. 

Whether it’s a demo, prototype, app, wireframe, design or line of code… the end result of Innovation Time is to produce a tangible output that demonstrates the progress made on the project.

With limited time for research and consultation with others, the team have to roll up their sleeves, fail fast, learn faster, and really get their creative juices flowing.

Innovation Time is a process.

Inspired by the CUBE development process, each innovation week is treated like a short development sprint.

The planning session:

A few things happen here, we start by discussing ideas and outlining a problem, what the solution is and how the project can be delivered by the end of the week.

Regular stand-ups:

During Innovation Time we collaborate daily to make sure the project stays on track and the team has everything they need.

If the solution is going to take longer than a week, we adapt our scope and simplify the deliverable. That way we are able to achieve it by the end week and continue the project on a larger scale during the next Innovation Time.

Happy Half Hour:

At the end of the week, the project is concluded with a HHH presentation. Where the team can ask questions and share their opinions and thoughts on the projects.

Getting feedback:

To make sure that the team’s Innovation Time is worthwhile and valuable to them, we finish off with a retrospective questionnaire to help measure success and improve our process.

The benefits of Innovation Time?

For me, one of the biggest benefits is getting to work with so many different members of the team on such a wide range of projects. It helps me get a better insight into what they’re passionate about, discover hidden talents and realise the breadth of different skills within the team.

I want to give the team the opportunity to explore and learn about the things they want and expand their roles so that all the passion, innovation and creativity can be used to benefit all the projects we work on.

The only way to be sure is to go out and test your ideas and programmes, and to realise that you will often be wrong. But that is not a bad thing. It leads to progress.

Matthew Syed, Black Blox Thinking: The Surprise Truth About Success

A few of our Innovation Time projects so far...

In last weeks project, iOS Developer Simon put together a data visualisation tool so we can better manage our emergency alerts system. Checking on which alerts specific users received on different dates and during different disasters.

Data Visualisation: Building An Emergency Alerts App For macOS.

A Tech For Good example is Android Developer Nikos’ project. Who used object and speech recognition to create an app for the visually impaired. Recognising faces in front of you, contacting emergency numbers and answering your queries are just a few of the features.

Meet SIMI: The Object Recognition App For The Visually Impaired.

One of the very first Innovation Time projects; Frontend Developer Kev talks through the process of building a watermelon AI… A Pip chatbot that makes out lives a little easier, by breaking down acronyms, defining jargon and even checking on meeting room availability.

Building A Watermelon Chatbot: Pip’s Latest AI Adventure.

To summarise...

Never stop experimenting and your products/apps/solutions will never stop improving.

As an agency, it’s essential for us to empower our employees and let them explore and experiment within their roles. Allowing CUBES to pursue their own passions at work encourages innovative thinking and this carries over to the projects we work on with our clients.

Innovation Time is a new initiative and we’re constantly trying to improve our process. But so far, both I and the team have had an incredible time exploring our passions, and have seen first-hand the impact Innovation Time has had on all the projects we work on.

Published on March 2, 2018, last updated on December 11, 2018

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