Edd Baldry

Director of Innovation

How AI-enabled innovation sprints can facilitate nonprofit progress

3 mins read

One day sprints enable you to accelerate your innovation work. They’re designed to enable teams to take small steps to create big things. A day sprint is an innovation-led process that works to define challenges and identify solutions. It is learning-by-doing in action.

Why one day?

The unit of value in a sprint is progress. You go in with a loosely defined challenge and come out having moved a step closer to resolving the challenge. The quicker we can move through defining problems, prototyping a solution and measuring how it performs, the quicker we can resolve the challenge.

In a single day, it’s possible to maintain a high intensity of work. It’s possible to actually sprint! And it being a single day means that there’s time for reflection, time to properly talk to customers and time for catching up with other folks in the organisation.

How many days in a week?

People who are new to running will often run too fast, and they’ll run too often. The same danger is there with sprints. You can’t sprint five times in a week. Sprint + rest = progress. Taking the time to create validated learnings - the ‘rest’ part - is as important as the sprinting where you’re ideating and building things. There’s space for two to three sprints in a week but not more.

How big?

A single-day sprint enforces a Lean mindset. Lean was popularised in digital product spaces by Eric Ries and is a way to ensure that we’re demonstrating progress before increasing our investment. If you need to make tangible progress in a single day, you need to make sure you’ve broken down the complexity of the challenge into small pieces.

Let’s talk AI

We arrived at working in one-day sprints by accident. As a team of innovators, we’re always picking up new tools and are open to how those tools may change our ways of working. Large language models have played a critical role in accelerating our sprints. They are the digital equivalent of 3D printers that enable us to quickly ideate and iterate to tangible assets that solve challenges. LLMs allow us to make progress more quickly!

So, what can you expect as outcomes?

Consider the case of a nonprofit struggling to engage its donors effectively. A one-day innovation sprint could surface fresh strategies for donor communication, engagement tactics, or new fundraising campaigns. Coupled with AI, these strategies can be swiftly evaluated and refined to produce practical, ready-to-implement solutions that could transform your donor engagement and fundraising results.

Take an environmental organisation grappling with data management issues. An innovation sprint could identify ways to streamline data collection, processing, and analysis. With AI, these ideas can be evaluated for feasibility, leading to solutions that dramatically improve data management, enhance research quality, and increase the impact of your conservation efforts.

Lastly, consider a charity focussed on making information accessible. A series of one-day sprints could be used to unearth creative methods to design personalised access to that information so that each user had the most relevant information disclosed at the moment they needed it.

Most importantly you’ll have a better definition of the challenge and a tangible item that allows you to measure if you’re making progress. The possibilities are endless, and the outcomes can be transformative.

Join our webinar to find out more!

On the 13th July, 10am, I'll be delving deeper into the benefits of AI-powered innovation sprints. You'll walk away with a deeper understanding, tangible examples, and the know-how to rally support from your team for your own innovation sprint.

This event has now ended. You can catch the recording over on YouTube by clicking here.