India Graduate Program – Meet the Graduates

Saransh Mehta took part in the 2017 Labs Graduate Placement. He is an aspiring Product Manager, with a background in both engineering and science.

“While one would think that developers just need to know the language and the skill to write working code, the Labs placement activity made us think otherwise.

Before we jumped into writing code and building our working prototypes, we were taught about a certain way of thinking. I personally always felt that products should be designed to communicate stories, and the design thinking workshop we experienced carved out a path to understand how to do that.

Meenakshi, one of the product managers at Tesco Labs, had a couple of activities for all of us to dive into. As a mock brainstorming activity, we were asked to design a solution to improve cab journeys to the office for Tesco employees in Bengaluru. By taking a user-centric, solution oriented approach, we were able to come up with a well thought out and an in-consensus interpretation to the problem. Creating something of value being central to our exploration, we realized the importance of independent thinking in groups. It helped us come up with amazing ideas and finally with all the ideas on the table, we were able to narrow down the ones that were the most practical and that we, as a team, believed in.

The next challenge was to apply these learnings in our Labs project, our problem statement being along the lines of re-imagining the recruitment process at Tesco. We started with understanding the company recruitment and interview processes by talking to all the possible stakeholders, be it HR, or people from the interview panel. Once we understood what problems looked like from different perspectives, we started to narrow down, filter and combine the problems into separate categories and sub-categories. With the next step, we diverged, independently thinking of solutions to the problem categories.

Categorizing problems

Ideating. Breakthrough thinking. Breaking down the solution.

We matched customer needs with what is technologically feasible, and a viable business strategy.

Thinking about the future. The Next Big Thing?

Our biggest takeaway from the design thinking workshop was that we needed to pen things down, get things out of our head on to paper and create a distributed system for idea-sharing. Once you bring your thoughts out of your head into the world, you are essentially freeing up processing power. Following this practice, on parameters of need, feasibility and innovation, we could imagine and analyse our proposed solutions.

As an industry standard, agile practitioners use Kanban boards to set the priorities right and expand their memory-horizon. For our project, we used Trello boards to keep matters in check. To assign tasks, to organize our work, to ensure that we didn’t lose out on our ideas, we updated the Trello board daily during our stand-ups, which created a story line for us. With updated boards every morning, all of us knew what we had to do by the end of the day. Apart from task prioritising, we needed a structure as part of the team building process. Within the team, we tried to understand each other’s predispositions to be able to put every person in the right role. This idea revolves around making the best use of your team talents. All of us may have the same job title, yet we’re all very different people with different inclinations. After much deliberation, we decided upon four concrete roles in our team. We had a code reviewer, a researcher (product and feature critic), an integrator (breadth of technological knowledge, can get multiple things to work together) and a planner in our team. By creating well-defined tasks for every person, we were able to build confidence, reduce conflicts and cover all the aspects of product development needed for a successful outcome.”

Saransh Mehta,
Tesco Labs Graduate Programme, 2017

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