Delivering high value in a short time: co-location, agile and design thinking

How do you work to deliver the most value in three weeks?

by Carol J SmithIMG_9685.jpg

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.

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IBM Health Corps with American Cancer Society week 1 – What is a meaningful job?

unadjustednonraw_thumb_668What is a meaningful job?

By Gert Laursen – Senior Managing Consultant, GBS Denmark

Is it a smart title and a nice office? Perhaps, a meaningful job is what makes you able to provide for your family. It could be when you feel that you have good colleagues or you feel that you are useful to society. Maybe a meaningful job has to be an extension of your identify, which allows you to reshape the world in your own image.

Now, what if someone told you that you could contribute to saving thousands of lives and all you have to do is to invest 3 weeks of your time? And, what if you asked your family and they said: Go for it Dad, go to Washington, DC. Go and make sure that a mother will not lose a son to cancer and that a father can receive the treatment he requires to live and raise his daughter. Just go dad.

That is why and how I got here.

I am 3 weeks in Washington DC, as a member of the IBM Health Corps team working with the American Cancer Society. Our mission together is to design a tool, which will help African governments accurately forecast the right amount of cancer medicine, to the right hospitals, at the right time at the lowest possible costs. This will help Sub Saharan governments significantly increase access to cancer treatment to those already diagnosed with cancer and the 600.000 new cases of people which are struck with the cancer every year.

So here I am, out of office and on a quest together with 5 colleagues from IBM. We are doing one thing and one thing only; bringing world class technical expertise in data analytics and design to develop the best Chemotherapy Forecasting tool for low and middle income countries. IBM Health Corps is giving us this time to leave our mark on one of the biggest societal challenges of our time.

I feel privileged.