ImprovingRIT Paris teamwork process

Rakuten Institute of Technology is the global R&D team of Rakuten. We conducted a study on how to improve RIT relationships with its business partners. More than 50 persons participated, and we obtained 6 concrete solutions immediately implemented.

Company

Rakuten Institute of Technology

Year

2018

Time

3 months

Role

Team of One

THIS PROJECT IS CONFIDENTIAL

Here I present only my approach for addressing the challenge. I purposively remain evasive regarding the details and results.

Context

Rakuten Institute of Technology’s (RIT) mission is to improve Rakuten products and services using cutting-edge technologies. RIT doesn’t collaborate with clients, but with internal partners from the same company. As a consequence, the success of RIT rests on the level of trust and common understanding of its partners. RIT Paris team had the intuition that using a more user-centric approach than its traditional tech-centric approach could benefit to its operations.

Challenge

Our focus during this study is the RIT Paris team, the French division of RIT. Created in 2014, this R&D team works with the French marketplace of Rakuten, and with European and Japanese Rakuten businesses. In the past four years, the team almost doubled its size (from 6 to 11), but kept the same way of working. We defined together our challenge :

How might we gather and understand RIT partner’s needs and data systematically, so that RIT and its partners propose together solutions adding value to the business ?

Approach


The preparation took 2 weeks, the process 8 weeks, and the conclusion and transfert 3 weeks.

Our initial user research step led us to identify four angles of approach when dealing with this complex challenge.

"We decided to launch a study using Design Thinking methods, about how to improve the relationships between RIT and the teams we partner with. We wanted to involve RIT team members as well as our partners and it was not obvious how far we would be able to do that, but the degree of involvement, the interest of the participants and the outcome of the study were far beyond our expectations."

Laurent Ach, Head of RIT Paris

Accomplishments & Learnings


After eight weeks of study, we found ways to re-balance the human and technological aspects of RIT Paris operations. Six months after the conclusion, RIT Paris members still keep the momentum. The solutions we designed as a group are being implemented.
 
For me as a team-of-one, this project was the most ambitious ever tackled. I was not sure about what to expect from the study, perhaps some insights or statistics. I didn’t expected coming up with so many complementary solutions. And getting such an open mind from both RIT Paris team and RIT partner teams was a surprise.

Biggest challenge for me

The toughest part was to convince people to book half-a-day for a workshop. Also I spend too much time (almost one month) writing the report, and preparing the transfert.
 

My Takeaway


The most important takeaway of this study for me, is that innovation and any advanced technologies involves human interactions at all stages: design, development and integration. It doesn’t matter how innovative or exciting the technology is, human dimension should not be forgotten, at any step.