Setting course to innovate – how to create the perfect sprint team

Geert Brookman is R&D manager at Repak, a Dutch manufacturer specialized in thermoforming packaging.
Their robust packaging machines are valued worldwide for their reliability and flexible employability, especially in the food industry.

In this interview Geert gives tips on how he chose the right team for a sprint week at 6’4″ design manufactory and the ProductStrategists.

What was special about the combination of your sprint team?

I had the ideal team: for example, some developers who know how the machine works, but not how to operate it.

Then we had someone from service and troubleshooting. He encounters in the field all possible deviations that need to be resolved.

Plus the software engineer, who is also the co-founder of the existing platform.

And finally, our CEO. To safeguard the DNA of the company and enable us to make the decisions at the right time.

What worked well in this regard?

What worked great was translating all the wishes and requirements of the user scenario and of all the different user groups, back to a single scenario that you then capture in a  prototype.

It forces you to choose. Everything you do, you do deliberately, and you combine as much as possible. At the same time, you are very focused. That saves a lot in time.

What did your team think of the sprint week?

The first days were perceived as tough. Because your knowledge is really being tested. You just have to deliver. It’s overwhelming and I that’s what I got back.

I noticed that there was a need to call in the evening and to ask, ‘what actually happened today?’ But that was the first two days only.

On Wednesday, you make choices and filter down. Then it becomes tangible. Everyone feels much more comfortable with that – at least in my team set-up.

And then on Thursday, when you’re going to build, everyone was full of energy.

How were the interviews on the fifth and final day for your team?

All the team members were first and foremost excited. After that, the feedback was mixed. Some experienced it as a kind of relaxing day to look back at the week: what was our actual result and how do people react to it?

And others were completely done by three in the afternoon. For them, it was really the last arc of suspense to fit into that week.

Compared to your traditional way of working, what was the biggest difference for you and your team?

Normally, projects run parallel for a longer period of time. Then you have a very divided attention. Such a sprint week on the other hand is very intense. You concentrate your capacity a lot and you keep all the focus on one project.  That’s a real change.

What turned out to be useful or valuable in hindsight?

In the end I was positively surprised at the simplicity of our solution. In the first two days, there didn’t seem to be a solution. Then you are so far away from what you want to achieve that sometimes you have the feeling “where is this going and will I get something at all”.

And then you see how concrete it was on Friday and how simple the solution to a complex problem has become. I thought that was awesome.

Read in the first part of Geert’s interview about his experiences and the surprising result of a sprint week at 6’4″ design manufactory.

Read also:

  • 10 years 6’4” design manufactory: of chasing dreams, clearing the way, and choosing new paths
  • Dreamitt – the modular design box spring from the Netherlands
  • How to turn clients into fans of your product – in just 5 days

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