DES Innovation Sprint

with QUT Chair in Digital Economy

The Purpose of Plastics Sprint is to
(1) understand the complex nature of the lifecycle of polymers [polymers, including plastics] and human and organisational systems involved;
(2) understand the current problems and opportunities in this space;
(3) design an intervention that addresses a selected problem/opportunity.

What is a Sprint?

A 6 week, co-designed ideation process, grounded in academic research, to explore opportunities and solutions to wicked problems.

The innovation sprint is a highly iterative, academically-rigorous, co-designed program. Innovation sprints involve a team of QUT researchers, designers, and client stakeholders who rapidly ideate to explore opportunities to a specific problem, through ‘problem divergence’ and then quickly into ‘concept convergence’ to successfully develop a prototype and actionable framework for change. The solution is presented to a forum of stakeholders with on-going engagement with domain experts throughout the process.

A sprint takes 30 business days (6 weeks) scheduled as three 10-day blocks: 10 days for pre-sprint research and consultation to understand the problem, 10 days for the core sprint itself, and 10 days post-sprint for reporting and documentation. These blocks are further defined below.

15 July – 26 July

The sprint commences with an inception meeting where the details of the sprint, including the problem, are discussed in detail with the partner. During this pre-sprint phase, the aims and scope of the sprint are refined and the methods employed for ideation and validation are selected.

29 July – 9 August

During the 10-day interactive sprint, the facilitators lead project stakeholders through a ‘problem divergence’ process that quickly leads to ‘concept convergence’. During this process, the sprint team explores the digital, customer-centric future around the given opportunity space and provides concrete concepts as to how this future can begin to be implemented.

The objective is to develop a proof-of-concept process map within the 10 days. The process for the sprint generally follows the research, design, ideate, validate, implement, and solution phases to a proof of concept. The sprint is intentionally undertaken in an environment that is free from the distractions of normal business practice.

12 August – 23 August

At the end of a sprint, your organisation now becomes the solution owner. You will be armed with a clear vision of the future, a set innovative concepts built around deep customer insights, and polished presentation and deliverable report to articulate and defend your new way of thinking. This report will capture the method of the sprint including the; stakeholder workshop, customer interviews, prototypes, and concept presentation, as well as recommendations and a roadmap specific to your organisation. This integration phase is critical in developing a common language between customers, and the many moving parts of an organisation. The post-Sprint phase supports any advocation, presentation or marketing activites to ensure the concepts are delivered.

Key dates & milestone

Day 1 Workshop
Date: 29 July 2019
Time: 9am for 9.30am start – 1.30pm
Venue: QUT Gardens Point, 2 George Street, B Block, level 5. Please visit our Maps and getting here page for further information.

Course Correction
Date: 6 August
Time: TBC
Venue: QUT Gardens Point

Demo Day
Date: 13 August
Time: TBC
Venue: QUT Gardens Point

Where is the sprint room?

The core sprint will take place in an Innovation Lab located in P Block, level 7, room P735

You can find campus maps and information about public transport and parking on our Maps and getting here page.


Research: Background research to understand the content area in order to meaningfully benefit from Day input from SMEs and customers. Background research can be inclusive of desktop research, engagement with key SMEs, speaking with customers, developing and disseminating surveys to customers, and conducting interviews with customers (pre-sprint) 

Interpretation and synthesis and insights drawn from the data of SME and customer data provided pre-sprint and on Day 1, to form a coherent understanding of the problems to be addressed, key priorities and constraints. This includes, for example, mapping and clustering government or company services relevant to a particular life event; developing customer journey maps to understand the life experience and identify pain points.

Sprint management: Developing the sprint work plan adapted from agile design methodologies, with consideration for how this will result in the development of the concepts.

Leading the direction of design and development of the sprint concepts. This includes providing input into the design through understanding of how and when services are accessed and how this needs to be represented in the concepts, as well as content development for customers using sprint concepts  based on background research into the problem space and understanding of customer needs.

Progress and team management (QUT/CDE responsibility): Responsibility for ensuring the  sprint team progresses through the design and development of the sprint concepts, including making design decisions at timely points, facilitating the daily stand-up to ensure progress and allocate responsibilities, and determining whether tasks needed to be removed from the to-do list if these are not likely to be able to completed in time.

Organisational and subject-matter expertise: This part is simple. You provide the sprint team with an insight into how the organisation operates in relation to processes, culture, technologies and capabilities, to name a few. Your insights into previous and existing projects around this project-space will provide the Sprint team with crucial tacit knowledge.

Stakeholder engagement and input: Design is a contact sport. The sprint team needs to engage with as many people as possible in order to get a successful outcome. This includes gaining buy-in from company for the sprint and determining the problem area to be addressed, inviting their attendance on Days 1 and 10, as well as for short visits during the sprint to provide course correction. Managing ongoing relations with stakeholders and ensuring their involvement and input throughout the sprint.

Solution Owner: A solution owner is, as the name suggests, the person or people who advocate for the concepts created within the sprint, to the rest of your organisation. After the sprint, the success of this projects implementation into your organisation relies on you. You will help the sprint team understand the intricacies of traversing your organisational structure, giving the concept the best chance of success.

You will be required to distribute invitations/meeting requests for sprint milestone events. Please feel free to use this wording template.

For the duration of the core sprint, the sprint team suspends day-to-day work to focus on one core area of work, the sprint. This is unlike most other forms of work, and requires active preparation to ensure your time is kept dedicated to the project (where appropriate and possible to do so). This encompassing way of working is confronting, challenging, highly collaborative and extremely rewarding. As strange as it sounds, the most successful Sprint teams will feel as though they operate as a ‘hive mind’. Working in such close proximity uncovers such unique behaviors. Our job is to be aware of ourselves and each other. For this period of time, it should not feel like we work for our respective organisations, we work solely for the problem, the opportunity the customer, the user. We are unbiased and methodological. If the focus is put towards objective findings and insights over personal preferences for a particular idea, then the foundation for transformation is set.

The following are a pragmatic set of shared tasks that we will all contribute to.

Prioritisation of goals: The refinement and prioritisation of goals to be addressed by the concepts, from a broader list that is articulated by SMEs and customers as well as within the literature, relating to the problem area. This involves substantial stakeholder engagement and management, and is often articulated through the development of a  ‘persona’ to exemplify the experience of individuals facing the target life event; and a set of sprint constraints on Day 1 with stakeholder participation.

Customer input: The coordination of users, customers, stakeholders and subject-matter experts to provide input into the sprint problem space  (pre-sprint and/ or Day 1), as well to provide concept and prototype feedback has been coordinated by the project manager.

Conducting concept and prototype testing with customers throughout the sprint. Generally, this includes concept testing during Week 1 and prototype testing on Days 8 and 9, to provide course correction on the design and feedback for stakeholders on potential utility and acceptability of the concepts. 

Preparation and presentation of sprint deliverables: Lead the preparing and presenting the outcomes of the sprint to stakeholders on Day 10, and subsequent to this to help build understanding of how the sprint outcomes could be used, what it’s potential value is, and what steps may be necessary for this to be implemented.

Meet your team

Dr Shahid MD

Dr Shahid MD



Pete Townson

Pete Townson

Senior Designer

Manuela Taboada

Manuela Taboada


Jodie Pattinson

Jodie Pattinson

Digital Content & Community Manager

Prof Marek Kowalkiewicz

Prof Marek Kowalkiewicz

Chair Digital Economy

Medium Profile | Eprints

QUT Chair in Digital Economy

The Chair in Digital Economy is a joint venture and a globally unique partnership between, QUTPwCBrisbane Marketing and the Queensland Government. The Chair sets a world-class standard for collaboration among academia, industry and government. With all its partners, the Chair in Digital Economy has a shared goal to explore and develop new creative opportunities in an age of great disruption.

Founded in 2015, the Chair in Digital Economy is led by global leader, Professor Marek Kowalkiewicz, a former Silicon Valley SAP Research Senior Director of Innovation.

We address wicked economic and government policy issues through a unique process of integrating rigorous research with design to provide rapid, unbiased, and visionary solutions.

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    The Chair in Digital Economy is a joint venture and a globally unique partnership between, QUTPwCBrisbane Marketing and the Queensland Government. The Chair sets a world-class standard for collaboration among academia, industry and government. With all its partners, the Chair in Digital Economy has a shared goal to explore and develop new creative opportunities in an age of great disruption.

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