IHG Beyond IT – Transforming Marketing and Design

 Russ Peña, Agile Methodologist, IHG

Russ Peña from IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group) presented at our EBA Summit how work can be as easy as talking to each other.  In light of “just talking,” IHG uses an “Innovation Center” to give customers–their guests–a seat at the table. 

Find Russ’s presentation and recording here

 

Russ Peña – Transforming Marketing and Design | EBA Summit from AgilityHealth on Vimeo.

The teams had been using the older waterfall method for product development, P.I.P.E.R.:

  • Prioritization
  • Innovation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Reality

Challenges 

The P.I.P.E.R. method created scads of lost time and money spent communicating brand concepts to outside designers, waiting for weeks or months for something that didn’t quite work. Once marketing and design adopted Agile and implemented two-week sprints, they saw a jump in:

  • Accountability
  • Clarity
  • Building backlogs
  • Teams forming
  • Structured governance
  • Timeboxing to plan and work more effectively
Full-size product prototype.

Actions Taken

The Innovation Center gives stakeholders (guests, franchise owners, IHG leaders) a low-cost way to react to new product concepts and give feedback so that IHG may rework and perfect the product before going to market broadly. 

IHG started this design approach with Holiday Inn and it’s now thriving across most of the brands.

Russ described the deliberate, low-cost approach for collecting real-time feedback on products before launching broadly:

  • Start with drawings. What might the product* look like?
  • Build out pre-product using foam board (easy, low cost).
  • Create life-size product with low-cost, but closer-to-the-real-thing materials. 
  • Test every product with stakeholders first and at each stage.
  • Testing is the “customer seat at the table” experience. 
  • Complete feedback, build the final product!

*Products may include a sleeping room, lobby, meeting space, or fitness center, for instance. 

Learnings & Results

Every decision is put in the Agile process: 

  • Choosing curtains 
  • Sourcing side tables 
  • Installing lighting 

Additionally, the architecture process has been adapted to Agile. And they have even patented some of their sleeping room designs.

Ultimately the “cost per key” needs to be balanced with the best experience for guests. Implementing, embracing, and living Agile across business groups, where products are everything but technology and software, has allowed them to achieve these business goals. 

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