Showing not telling – experiments at the Public Sector Innovation Show

IntegrationQA Innovation Canberra 2018

Yesterday a crew from IntegrationQA ran an experiment at the Public Sector Innovation Show in Canberra. Taking our cue from the name of the event, we decided to test showing what we do, rather than talking about it.  We set up our booth as a workspace and offered consulting to everyone who visited.

Instead of seating twelve people at our roundtable, we split off into small groups to work on a real challenge. We shared some examples of experiments that IntegrationQA have conducted.   Participants then used our experiment template to document an experiment to address a challenge in their work context. You can see some examples of documented experiments below.
Our hypothesis was that by taking an interest in people’s world, and offering something of value to them, we would build relationships with government sector people. We came away with a resounding “yes”.
Visitors to our booth said “nice booth”, “I should have come here first”, “love the language around experiments”, and “customer lens → business lens”. Other vendors said we got much more engagement than they did.

Challenges to delivering value faster

Delivering Customer Value Faster

Our introductory activity was to identify the greatest challenge to delivering value faster. We asked participants to name a challenge and place on a continuum between technology and people.
Almost all the challenges were towards the people side. These included:
  • Call failure (rather than letting it continue)
  • Find champions and support them
  • Leadership buy-in to agile mindset
  • Open mindset
  • Iteratively deliver on outcomes
  • Small wins generating word of mouth success stories
  • Devops experience
  • Advocating for the customer in our community
  • Balance immediate delivery with lifting our game
  • Tech is needed to make it easy to engage
  • Amenable (not legacy) tech stack

Organisational maturity assessment

We offered three minute organisational maturity assessments to increase the depth of insights.
Participants assessed the maturity in their organisations with respect to delivering customer value faster, in three steps.
  1. Rate the overall maturity. We used our scientific scale of “not really” through “ok” to “awesome”.
  2. Identify the level of the organisation that is most constraining maturity.
  3. Name the specific constraint.

Organisational Maturity Assessment

Here are the key constraints that our three-minute clients identified:

  • Leadership — executive buy-in.
  • Organisation – antiquated processes, resistance and risk-aversion
  • Tech – automation of test and build; systems, equipment and connectivity for people at remote sites.
Interestingly no-one flagged delivery teams as a constraint!

Documented experiments

Some visitors took up our offer of devising an experiment to address a challenge in their organisation. Here is an example of one experiment documented with people who agreed to us sharing them (with the names removed for discretion all the same).
The following experiment involves creating transformation capability alongside the legacy structures, and encouraging processes to divert from the old structure to the new one.

Documented Experiments


Alignment priorities

Here is a quick and provocative activity that many visitors to our booth enjoyed. If you didn’t try this at the booth, you can try it now.
Simply rank the following three concepts in order of priority:
Which order do you rank them in? Why?
  • Is the idea of aligning continuously more important than where you align?
  • Is there any point in aligning between teams if you don’t align with customers? Or if you only align once?
  • Is there any point in aligning with customers if you don’t align between teams? Or if you only align once?

And we had angry men.