Charts Incubator

Michael Bird photo Last night someone decided to come into the office at 6pm to work on IG’s charting product for the evening, even though they were on holiday for the week. They were joined by five others who ended up staying until 10pm.

Why did this happen?

There are lots of creative people at IG who love to solve problems, and we often have ideas to improve our products which don’t fit into the immediate programme of work. Since we feel the ideas will really benefit clients, we setup the charts incubator: meeting roughly every fortnight to turn ideas into tangible features (as well as eat delicious pizza!).

Incubators don't have a schedule, or an organiser - it’s up to individuals to decide if they want to run one when they have an idea. The feeling of camaraderie when we chip in to help each other turn ideas into features and solve real problems really resonates with the team. And there is a great sense of achievement in getting those ideas into production.

However, evolving raw ideas is tricky and some have flopped, but others have been turned into project pitches and a few are even in production right now.

In order to get an idea into production there are three key steps:

  1. The idea needs to solve a real problem
  2. The product stakeholders need to agree
  3. We need to build it

We have learnt that an effective way to highlight the merits of an idea to stakeholders is by showing them a prototype. We show prototypes to stakeholders along with other scheduled work at the end of sprint demo. If the stakeholders are on board then we use the incubator to finish off small features so they are production ready. Larger features, typically those that span multiple teams, become project pitches.

Incubators are a brilliant way to foster innovation and strengthen teams. If you don’t have one, then I'd recommend trying it out.

About the author:

Michael Bird works as a technical team lead at IG on the Charts team. He is an advocate of agile and lean principles and is continually working with his team to become more effective.  Find him on LinkedIn.