Q&A with Mac
Tell us about the project you came to work on.
I entered the week looking to "more accurately and quickly uncover and unleash the full potential of our team." Pretty big starting point, I'm aware. I was skeptical of Skypad being able to get me there, but through the design thinking curriculum I was able to identify the most critical players, at the most influential times, and target my approach towards a specific role and solve the problems they face. It took my daunting, unmanageable problem and distilled it down to 1-2 (and honestly dozens more) completely doable solutions that could solve 80% of the issues. I was unable to solve every problem we had in a week, but I was able to find the immediate gaps that if filled would yield more results than any other starting point.
How was your visit to Skypad transformative?
Not being responsible for any planning or administrative work was incredibly freeing. Normally on a workday, offsite, or even vacation my mind is bogged down with managing food, transportation, activities, etc. But at Skypad my mind was able to clear off all the little things and dedicate 100% on mental energy to finding creative solutions to my clearly defined challenges. Imagine backpacking through the woods without having to lug around your gear? In the same way mentally, it was truly remarkable how much faster and easier it was to get to my creative destination.
How was the experience of co-working with people from other companies and backgrounds?
The activities and curriculum of the week were fantastic structural bones, and the other participants gave it life. I was the only one at Skypad from my city which was a great way to remove myself from the bubble I didn't realize I live in. Objectively, considering that every person I would normally collaborate with on my team share the same city and employer, it's not a very diverse group of thought. But at Skypad, it was truly a variety of industry experience and geographic and cultural diversity.
What was your biggest eureka moment?
I was confident in my ability to adhere to the curriculum and incrementally achieve a logical solution, but the thought of having a “breakthrough” idea seemed optimistic. However, during the second fireside chat I brought a question to the group and one member gave a particularly insightful response. During my user interviews I was able to implement that thought in my primary personas and generate "ah-ha" style solutions based on those findings.
What do you think will be different when you return to work?
Besides my tan? Not only do I have the knowledge and experience to quickly tackle large organizational challenges, but I have a fantastic starting point for testing some ideas that might grow to be integral parts of how we work. Plus, there was the added benefit of seeing how people at other innovative companies have solved similar problems. Skypad was a safe space to open up to people that aren't involved or biased in your organization's work and get a real gauge on what problems the rest of the world is having and going deep with the people who are solving them.
Would you come back?
In a heartbeat. The hardest part of selling the experience to my team was the fact that it is nearly disguised as a holiday. Between the tropical and luxurious location, exciting excursions, and amenities it seemed like the productive aspect was undersold. It is almost as if a boring location would have made it less "too good to be true." I'll state it here that there is a huge work component to Skypad and everything that we did revolved around achieving that solution. Although I was refreshed and had a blast, it was not a vacation. Instead, I was able to achieve breakthroughs which I would not have been if I did not attend.