In this blog, we dive into the 'Understanding the problem' activity to get a better idea of what problem we are trying to solve by building a carbon emissions calculator on Codebots. This is part one in the Climate Action App Series.
Last year, Eban and I discussed our vision to make Codebots carbon neutral, but we had no idea where, or how to start. In January, I had the opportunity to attend the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, where I was blown away with inspiration from all the purpose-led businesses. Many of these businesses were using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to measure their impact on the world. I wanted to bring this idea home, thinking more about how Codebots could become a purpose-led business, and revisiting the idea to go carbon neutral.
Since Codebots launched on January 13, we have been working on improving and optimising our platform onboarding experience, with a plan to create a handful of template apps so users can get started even faster. We saw an opportunity to combine our two goals, and decided to create a climate action based template app that we could use to measure Codebots’ carbon emissions, and help other SMEs do the same.
In this blog series, we will share our journey from ideation to app launch, walking you step-by-step through the creation of the Climate Action app.
Codebots uses an Activity Kit to help teams facilitate the scoping and development process. This kit contains a series of activities teams can work through to help understand, ideate, and validate a solution. For our Climate Action app, we chose to start with the ‘Understanding the problem’ activity, which I’ll walk you through in this blog.
Step 1: Understand and define your problem.
Before we could get started building the Climate Action app, we had to make sure we had a clear understanding of the problem we were trying to solve. Every business and every problem is different; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The purpose of this activity is to narrow things down as much as possible so you have a singular direction for exploration.
A good problem statement should be well-defined, clear in what it is trying to solve, and not too specific so as not to lock you into a solution. The key is to focus merely on the problem. We came up with the following problem statement:
“Small medium businesses are aware of emissions, but don’t know how to measure and reduce them.”
Step 2: Set your goals.
Once you have defined your problem statement, and have an understanding of what exactly it is that you’re trying to achieve, you can set goals that work toward a solution. We set the following goals for our app:
- Measure emissions as they stand; and
- Make something that any SME can use.
It is important that you keep your minimum viable product (MVP) goals simple, so you don’t overwhelm yourself by attempting to tackle too many things at once. Once you have your MVP and start user testing, you can work on fleshing things out more, and add functionality and features. We set a couple of stretch goals, nice-to-haves, but not essential for our MVP:
- Help companies reduce emissions, working toward a goal of becoming carbon neutral;
- Compare how actions completed by a business change emissions over time; and
- Make it location-based to accommodate the recommendations and rules of different states and countries (the MVP would be QLD specific).
Step 3: Define success.
With a well-defined problem statement and some MVP goals, you can now define what success looks like for your app. Our key success indicators were:
- That we provide companies with all the information they need to reduce their emissions; and
- People are able to use it and found it helpful with their goal of becoming carbon neutral.
Next steps: Setting up your team and app on Codebots.
Defining your problem statement, setting goals, and defining what success looks like should be a quick and fun activity that helps all stakeholders understand what you are trying to achieve. We recommend running this initial ideation activity as a whiteboard session, where you write your three steps as titles, and give yourself space for notes. Remember to record your session and document all your notes digitally in your Codebots Library!
The next step in your app development journey is to assemble your dream team, a group of people with cross-functional skills that can start building your idea. In our next article, we’ll talk about choosing the right people for your team, and getting your app setup on Codebots. If you’re itching to get started you can start exploring the platform now.
Last updated: 20 August 2020