Uniting global marketing teams with design thinking

PotentialSquared and Akamai bring marketing teams from around the world together on Sprintbase

Leadership and innovation consultancy PotentialSquared has been working with leading technology company Akamai to run leadership development programs across the organization.

The One Marketing Leadership Experience (OMLE) was created to help teams tackle challenges specific to marketing and to help them create connections and collaborate better globally. The program was designed to help participants develop key leadership skills, including communication, collaboration, and problem-solving.

Two cohorts have been through the program in 2019 and 2020, with another due to start in the spring of 2021.

The program begins with an introduction to the mindsets and principles of leadership and design thinking and allows for the cohort to create psychological safety before they then begin their capstone projects. This is when the cohort, now split into two teams of six people each, are introduced to Sprintbase. Here they work through specific global marketing challenges and are guided through the innovation process.

The first cohort worked on challenges set by the senior leadership team, all focusing on themes surrounding the design challenge of “How might we work better together to meet customer needs?” The second cohort was given the freedom to set their own challenges.

Rachel Gorman

“The purpose of teams going through the process on Sprintbase was both to develop ideas and prototypes, but also to go through a journey of working together in the design thinking mode, communicating and collaborating as a global team.

“It was great to see people working so well together in global groups across different time zones – both synchronously and asynchronously. The teams were very grateful to dig into real-life challenges together as a global marketing team, which is something they rarely do. It was exciting for them to better understand different parts of the marketing organization and the challenges that impact each other’s work.”

Rachel Gorman,Lead Coach and Facilitator

Each cohort featured people from different countries and time zones, so team members uploaded their information, left comments, and cast votes on Sprintbase at times that suited them. The PotentialSquared team then used coaching sessions to review what each group had done, to discuss what was coming next, and to answer questions.

Some people who were part of the first OMLE cohort acted as mentors for the second cohort, so in addition to their coaching time, teams had a colleague internally they could reach out to if they got stuck or needed inspiration.

Each Sprintbase project culminates with a presentation to the Marketing OC where each team pitches their ideas, and a winner is selected. At the presentation, teams summarize the process they’ve been through, what they learnt during the research phase, the ideas they developed, their iterations and prototypes, the feedback gathered, and what led them to the final idea. They also talk about how they worked together as a team in this process before being asked questions.

However, it’s not the final idea itself that’s most important. The emphasis is placed on the team’s learning and their practice of adopting the design thinking process as a new way to find solutions to challenges – it’s about demonstrating the journey everybody has been on and how they arrived at their final idea.

PotentialSquared shares the benefits of using Sprintbase for this project:

  • Access to guidance; All the how-tos, tips, and tools are one of the biggest benefits. There’s so much value in all the information people have access to. The ability to go ahead and look at what’s to come also helps a lot. People love that the next steps in the process aren’t hidden, and they can go ahead and see what’s to come.
  • Engaging with each step, not jumping to solutions: When people have worked for organizations a long time, it’s easy for them to assume they can or should just come up with the answers. The clear process in Sprintbase helps people engage with each step one at a time and gradually digest and tackle the problem.
  • Constantly building on what you’ve found: It’s great that everything you’ve done so far comes with you at each stage – nothing you’ve learnt or developed is ever left behind. People love seeing how they’re building on each stage as they go.
  • Being able to vote on ideas: Teams love this feature!
  • Being able to download a PDF of everybody’s output: This is a fantastic feature for the final presentation. It means we can show whoever they’re presenting to all the stages they’ve been through and how they got to where they are now. It also helps teams see how much they’ve done and the progress they’ve made.

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