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Finding solutions in our Innovation Dojo

Dojo colleagues discusiing issues during the daily stand-up
Dojo colleagues during the daily stand-up

The dojo concept

Our Innovation Dojo is a dedicated space within DWP Digital to innovate. In Japanese the word dojo traditionally means ‘place of the way’, which is the concept behind our dojo. It’s a space for us to find the best way to a solution through immersive learning.

Just over a year ago we came up with the idea of a ‘safe space’ to use design thinking, think ‘outside the box’ and be really creative. Working in the dojo, colleagues are encouraged to be radical with their ideas. It’s a real opportunity to explore technology, experiment and solve real problems.

Why we need the Innovation Dojo

The dojo was essential because one of the major changes over the last few years has been to move away from outsourcing our IT. We’re building an in-house capability and with this move came the opportunity to innovate.

We’re on a transformation journey to put our users at the heart of everything we do and reimagine digital services to deliver better outcomes for the millions of people using our services.

How the dojo works

The ethos in the dojo encompasses a number of core principles. They are:

  • A business-centric focus; this means focusing on a problem that we’re faced with, in our business right now and investigating potential solutions. Looking at what we can do in the immediate, but also what we can develop for the future through emerging technologies.
  • Adopting agile ways of working during a rapid and iterative 12-week journey, the small diverse team is supported to work at pace from initial ideas to proof of concept. Co-creating and collaborating with Accenture, colleagues working in the dojo facilitate rapid prototyping for a specific problem or opportunity.
  • To provoke fresh thinking and consider the bigger picture. The dojo is a place to ideate without constraint and to consider possibilities that ‘business as usual’ doesn’t have the time or capacity to consider.
  • To facilitate learning through agile ways of working and investigating new or emerging technology.

Working in the dojo

The dojo consists of a scrum team made up of experts who have the right skills for the particular project. It’s led by the scrum master who facilitates the team’s daily work and the product owner, who creates and maintains the product vision, roadmap, and backlog of work throughout the project.

The scrum master’s role is to make sure all the planned activities take place and to remove any obstacles faced by the team to keep the project on track. The remainder of the core team is generally made up of specific specialists including a business analyst, an AI lead, a technical architect and the developer.

The team doesn’t just work in isolation though; we have a range of stakeholders from the business who are critical to the success of the work. They participate in the Design Thinking and demo sessions and give us essential feedback to ensure we’re building the right solutions and that we keep it user centric.

Moving forward

Ultimately the Innovation Dojo acts as a starting point for transformation, the goal being to move into a project and develop it further in a technology-led environment.

So far the Innovation Dojo has completed 9 projects using a range of technologies such as knowledge graph, Amazon Comprehend, AWS Serverless functions and Alexa. And, we’ve successfully introduced a blockchain payment solution.

Look out for our next blog-post about the Innovation Dojo where our scrum master will talk about a typical week.

We need experts to join us. If you’d like to know more about a role in DWP Digital check out our current vacancies on our careers website.

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  1. Comment by Ian Price posted on

    Sounds great. Out of interest - where can I find more information on the projects completed so far? Would like to learn more.

  2. Comment by Dave posted on

    Interesting, I can see the value in doing this type of thinking and development work. It would be good to get an insight into how you identify problems that are worthy of dojo involvement?