Developing software products can easily start to feel like a factory-floor process. To offer developers freedom of expression and stimulate innovative out-of- the-box solutions that add value, IMQS introduced “White Space” as a perfect addition to Agile Scrum. Read more about “White Space” and how it has become part of IMQS’s culture of innovation.
At IMQS “White Space” refers to the day at the end of a two-week work cycle where Agile team members are encouraged to explore technologies or questions outside the scope of their everyday work obligations.
The aim is to add value by encouraging explorative problem based self-study away from the factory floor, so to speak.White Space has gradually become part of IMQS’s culture of innovation, a good fit within the Agile project management environment, and is starting to produce interesting innovations in different areas.
Since 2012, Agile Scrum has been a central driver of innovation at IMQS. The popular micro-level method of project management facilitates communication and coordination within and between teams. Teams work in two-week work cycles known as “sprints”, at the end of which a finished product is presented to the client.
The Agile Scrum method helps to deal with the complexity and variability of the technology industry and assures the sustained relevance of products up until the end of the project. While Agile stimulates innovation in the software development industry, it ultimately remains a means to an end – the production of relevant software products to satisfy demand in a money market.
According to IMQS Asset Management Team member, Abram Spamers, “software development is a process where you need to do a lot of abstract thinking, you don’t want to feel like a factory when you are programming. White Space breaks that feeling up, it breaks up the feeling of the factory process”.
“White Space is a natural fit to Agile”, says Spamers. It promotes freedom of expression and offers a software developer a moment to take a breath after the sprint. They are able to explore and play around with technologies or systems that capture their interest, but which don’t form part of their daily workflow.
White Space is a recent addition to the IMQS. It is still in the making, being charted and interpreted in different ways. By promoting explorative self-study, the hope is to add value to the organisation, its workforce, clients and the broader Infrastructure Asset Management industry.
As a space of exploration, White Space has the potential for producing out-of-the-box solutions. As more direction becomes apparent, and collaboration between members of Tribes appears, this is exactly what is happening at IMQS.
An example is the Outlier Detection function developed by Spamers. Working from within the Business Intelligence Tribe, this young developer was able to marry his own interest in data analytics and machine learning with the question of how to help IMQS users explore their data more efficiently.
He used his White Space to develop a generic function that enables any IMQS user to search for generic information based on the millions of assets in their existing IMQS Asset Register. No matter the data or question, Outlier Detection offers the IMQS user the function of analytics on a basic level.
Even though White Space is still in the making, it is bearing fruit in two distinct ways:
It has empowered employees by using their own interests and ideas to add value to the organisation and its goal of offering solutions to real world problems.
The return on investment in time has already started to bare fruit.
At IMQS, White Space has become part of our culture of innovation by offering employees the opportunity to engage in explorative, value adding, self-study. It is a space to keep an eye on because of the exciting solutions that can emerge. It is a perfect fit for Agile and could just be what you have been looking for to stimulate innovation in your organisation.