August 06
2013

ICANN Labs Kicks Off Innovation Program with Two-Day Workshop in New York

Introducing the members of each ICANN Labs track team as part of our kick-off workshop last week in New York

When we announced ICANN Labs in Durban, we described our general approach to product innovation, but there were still lots of work that our team needed to do to generate a basic understanding of the problems we're trying to solve across our four innovation tracks.

In advance of Durban, the ICANN Labs team spent one month conducting research and interviewing key stakeholders within the ICANN ecosystem. This initial research effort was led by User Experience Strategist Jeanine Harriman, who will be blogging about her approach and key findings later this week. Following the work, which included field research and interviews in Durban, the team returned to New York for a two-day workshop to synthesize our findings.

Meet the Team

Attending the workshop were members of the ICANN Labs team from Neo, ICANN's innovation partner. The team is comprised of 15 designers, developers, and product managers.

Education Track Team

Conversation Track Team

Communication Track Team

Discovery Track Team

The following ICANN Staff members joined us: Chris Gift, VP of Online Community Services, and the internal sponsor of ICANN Labs; Duncan Burns, VP of Communications; Nora Abusitta, VP of Social Responsibility Programs; Marc Salvatierra, Manager of Web Development; and Jia-Juh Kimoto, Project Manager. Jimmy Leach, an ICANN consultant, also participated.

Workshop Recap

We opened the workshop with a presentation from Neo's Jeanine Harriman, who walked us through the ethnographic, primary, and desk research she conducted over the past month. This included her key insights — essentially the model that allowed us to construct four key personas — and an overview of the personas themselves. We covered concepts such as "Bright Spots", from Dan and Chip Heath's book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, and how these paradigms might give us inspiration for digital engagement solutions and potential experiments.

We then segued into four consecutive breakout sessions over the next day and a half, during which each of our track teams — “Communication,” “Education,” “Conversation,” and “Discovery” — met with their assigned ICANN Staff representative to deep-dive on a specific persona.

Track teams then ran through a set of exercises designed to elicit a deeper understanding of the problem they have been asked to solve.

Together, we:

  1. Deconstructed these ideas into underlying assumptions
  2. Prioritized those assumptions as part of a “Critical Risk” analysis.
  3. Visualized potential solutions as part of a collaborative sketching exercise called “Design Studio” that Neo's Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden describe in their book Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience.

From left to right: Nora Abusitta, ICANN's VP of Social Responsibility Programs, and Neo designers Sebastian Heit and Alex Kim present during Design Studios for the Education and Communication Track Breakout Sessions

From left to right: Nora Abusitta, ICANN's VP of Social Responsibility Programs, and Neo designers Sebastian Heit and Alex Kim present during Design Studios for the Education and Communication Track Breakout Sessions

ICANN's Subject Matter Expert for the Communications Track, Jimmy Leach, works through the “Critical Risk” analysis: What assumptions does my idea hold that, if proven false, could cause it to fail?

ICANN's Subject Matter Expert for the Communications Track, Jimmy Leach, works through the “Critical Risk” analysis: What assumptions does my idea hold that, if proven false, could cause it to fail?

Experiment Design

The Neo track teams then spent the rest of the week synthesizing their findings from the workshop, and drilling down to discrete experiments. The track teams were searching for the smallest thing they could test over the next 1-2 weeks to validate or invalidate their riskiest assumptions.

These experiments will run from Monday, 8/5, to Wednesday, 8/14, although we may expand upon, pivot, or terminate tests depending on what each track team is learning and how efficiently they are learning. You can track each team's progress through the ICANN Labs twitter account, on the ICANN Labs Track pages, and if you've registered with ICANN Labs, through our weekly newsletter.

We look forward to kicking off our first experiments and testing with you over the coming weeks! Please leave any thoughts or questions about the workshop or our initial approach in comments are contact us at @ICANNLabs on Twitter.

- the ICANNLabs team

Sebastian, laying out solution hypotheses, as part of the Communications Track. Next steps included: prioritizing a potential solution candidate, deconstructing that solution into assumptions, and then formulating experiments to validate or invalidate the riskiest assumptions.

Sebastian, laying out solution hypotheses, as part of the Communications Track. Next steps included: prioritizing a potential solution candidate, deconstructing that solution into assumptions, and then formulating experiments to validate or invalidate the riskiest assumptions

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