How do you work to deliver the most value in three weeks?
by Carol J Smith
I’m thrilled to be working with a cross-functional group of highly professional and fun folks who are getting things done. We are a user experience designer (me), two software engineers, a technologist, a visualization architect and a business consultant. As you might expect, the conversations we’re having about improving the interfaces are detailed and thoughtful.
We are doing critical work on access to Cancer treatment with IBM Health Corps partner, the American Cancer society. The burden of Cancer in Africa is rising and projected to out-strip HIV and Malaria in the next decade – partly thanks to the great work that has gone into the fight against and malaria and HIV. Our work is part of bringing the lessons of the fight against HIV to Cancer. We are building tools that will help Ministries of Health get access to more complete and cheaper therapies for cancer.
We are working and living together. Which means we’re hearing each other’s conversations surrounded by post-it notes on our Kanban board and working in an Agile way to get things done quickly in the three intense weeks we have together. We have a big challenge to take a lot of disparate data and bring it together.
Our users are also our partners. As such, they make themselves available to answer our questions and are constantly in the room with us. This week we met daily with program leaders from Uganda and Ethiopia and next week we’ll meet with a specialist from Rwanda and oncologists. These individuals are able to tell us about their experiences making cancer programs effective in their countries. In turn the information they provide helps us to make the right design choices. Design thinking principles are very useful in this process.
When true partnerships like the one we have with ACS can be created, you’d be surprised how much you can achieve. We’re in the middle of the second week in a three-week project and the team is highly optimistic about hitting our deadlines and delivering a great product to enable the ACS teams to quickly and accurately create forecasts for chemotherapy.
We had the opportunity last week to serve dinner at the ACS Hope Lodge where we met people receiving treatment for their disease as well as their caregivers who are staying with them. Their stories of perseverance were inspiring and we enjoyed visiting with them greatly. Seeing them succeed in their battles and knowing that the work we’re doing will save people’s lives in similar situations is extremely gratifying to us all.