Day 4 – Live, die, repeat…

Day 4 of Birmingham’s first Spaghetti Lab and it is prototype day. Cutting and Sticking Today

I know that it is prototype day because there is more Lego, playdough, coloured pipe-cleaners and cutting/sticking equipment around than I am used to in the office.

We finished yesterday with empathy maps populated and bags of insight from our young job seekers and SMEs.  So today we got down to some serious (and not so serious) prototype building.

Then – before we know it – Chris and Dan ushered us off to get feedback on our prototypes.  If I’m honest, I think we are going out too soon.  I want to spend another 30 minutes (or an hour or two) getting the prototype to look better.  But, that is not how it works.

Before getting into things we spend a few minutes watching the first Flash Build.  A team arrive in a sunglasses shop to build an app, there in the shop, in one week.  Worth a watch:, they didn’t spend any time messing about with their prototype, they just built it, tried it and learnt from it.  The real meaning of time-boxing, and the real value.

Is it in hereSo back to Broad Street job centre for more insights:

With our half-arsed prototype we talked Somia through what we had done and immediately she gave us a great insight for benefit that she would want as a job seeker.  Something that we could have taken ages to think up (if we had thought of it at all).  The power of Build, Measure and Learn proved.

The staff at the Job centre also gave us their time, we showed Dave our good-enough-for-the-job prototype, he talked to us about how this solution could work alongside the other systems that are in use; yet more useful insights.

Next it was back to the Impact Hub, a little lunch, while sharing out feedback and then some serious prototyping.

Creation underway

To be honest, I mainly did the lunch while Nick, Laura and Simon did the art work.  (Consistent feedback was that no-one could read my writing in the initial prototype; I see my role in life as something of a supervisor.)

Prototype 2 done we were back out on the streets looking for more feedback.

This time I felt like we were honing the idea.  At Millennium Point, Isha gave us some real confirmation on the concept plus she underlined the importance of making progress on this problem.  Searching for a job is not fun and doing this I have met lots of people really searching but just not finding work in Birmingham.

An interesting conversation with Ben and Hiram highlighted the importance of filling in some details: what are the skills that should be tagged and tracked in the system?  Hmmm

Last part of the day was pitching, thankfully to a friendly panel.  Suddenly our simple idea seemed very difficult to summarise, I begin the pitch but realise that I am was babbling and waving my hands – where did I put that prototype?  I handed over to the next member of the team – phew the spotlight is off me – argh, but now I just want to interrupt my team mates flow.

We get reasonable feedback – but more practice is needed.

Some pointers from the Spaghetti guys follow:

Great advice and inspiration; but a daunting day tomorrow: its big pitch day.

Reflecting today, I realised that at the start of this week I was saying “It’s not about the outcome, I just want to show that the process is worthwhile”, but now I actually CARE.  I give a [#] about those people I’ve met who are looking for work and can’t find it.  I want this product to be built so they can benefit from it. 

I don’t know if it is some strange Impact Hub magic or complex Spaghetti Lab science but in 4 days I feel more connected to this great city of Birmingham than I have for a very long time.


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