How to build a product organisation to tackle social inequality

Cognitive and demographic diversity are key to improving collective intelligence, enhancing productivity, powering innovation, fuelling new ideas and creating more profitable and equitable companies.

Delivering it, however, is a fundamental challenge felt around the world. How can you source and attract the kinds of diverse talent pools needed to expand your thinking and grow your collective knowledge? 

Building a product organisation to tackle social inequality | Red Badger

In answering this question, the third sector has an extraordinary remit to create system wide changes to address global problems.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example, include reducing income inequality as a global priority. The need to afford those most in need with the opportunities required to elevate themselves and their families out of poverty is prescient.

So how can organisations and charities address these issues? What can we do as a corporate entity to help mitigate some of the issues around social inequality and be a net positive contributor to our local and national environment? 

This post is the first of a three-part series showcasing how Red Badger’s cross-functional teams and digital product thinking approached these questions and built a viable business primed for investment and production.

We fundamentally believe we are uniquely placed to tackle it head on.

Build a mission-driven business

In August 2020, Red Badger launched Mission Beyond, an initiative that brings together purpose-led leaders to form coalitions solving some of the world’s grand challenges, like the UN’s SDGs.

“Our ethos has always been to deliver work that matters, tackle big problems and deliver meaningful results,” explains Cain Ullah, Red Badger Board Member and Founder and former CEO.

“Tackling the big problems is a gargantuan undertaking and in order to do it you simply have to break it down into bite size chunks. Fuelled by Mariana Mazzucato’s Mission Economy principles, we built a coalition of like-minded, purpose driven leaders from across the business community and launched Mission Beyond.”

Mission Beyond leverages mission thinking to solve these grand challenges by breaking them down into smaller, more actionable ‘missions’.

Social mobility, the idea of enabling economic progression regardless of one’s starting point in life, contributes  to SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, and is an increasingly important consideration for businesses everywhere. 

So, in September 2020 a coalition was formed and quickly developed a mission to enhance social mobility and representation: Help 1 million young people from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds to reach economic independence by 2025.

The group sought to do this by speeding and sustainably scaling the most effective solutions and practices, harnessing the power of digital platforms and products.

“The Red Badger teams are expertly positioned to examine the landscape, analyse the potential paths forward and plot a route to a solution,” says John Godfrey, Executive Commercial Director at Red Badger.

“Deploying a truly cross-functional team and taking a system wide approach, the team demonstrated why they deliver such high success rates.

Aligning around the core proposition and value stream, their individual expertise and collaborative power propelled them towards the right digital product quickly.”

A structured approach to digital innovation

In a product-led approach, customer desirability of a product or service idea is tested before considering whether it is viable or feasible to build it. 

This approach proved incredibly valuable for Mission Beyond who couldn’t afford to waste time, resources or money on an undesirable (and therefore unsustainable) solution.

Red Badger’s Product Strategy proposition runs through three distinct phases which follow a metered funding approach. The aim of each phase is to validate assumptions and uncover insights that build a business case to move to the next phase. 

The phases are:

  • Ready: Define a territory (an innovation focus) to ensure the propositions explored in the Rinse phase relate to an addressable market, real business challenge, or a grand challenge the business feels comfortable investing in.

  • Rinse: Conduct short sprint cycles to uncover customer wants, needs and challenges. Identify multiple desirable propositions to address these and explore how to reach and build relationships with these particular customers.

  • Rehearse: Validate the business model for a proposition prioritised at the end of the Rinse phase by testing a low-tech, low-fidelity version of the product or service with customers.

Generate momentum and prepare for the next phase

With social mobility clearly defined by the Mission Beyond coalition as the territory to address, a consensus needed to be built around the need to stand up an innovation team to get everything moving in the right direction.

Red Badger is fundamentally built on cross-functional teamwork – bringing together a diverse set of technical, product and delivery experts to create digital products for clients. 

Innovation work for a Rinse sprint relies on a different skill set than a traditional digital product build, but between highly experienced engineers, insights analysts and product designers, a nimble team was pulled together boasting all the necessary capabilities to discover, define, test and measure new product ideas at pace with potential users.

With a team assembled and a clear mission ahead, the team began the critical Rinse phase. In our next post, we'll uncover what innovative propositions they explored and how they brought them to life.

 

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