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 were involved, and at the end 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 (RIT) has a mission to help Rakuten teams with innovation and improve Rakuten products and services using cutting-edge technologies. RIT doesn’t directly collaborate with actual clients, but with long-term partners belonging to the same global company. As a consequence, the success of RIT providing such services, is tied to the level of trust and common understanding between RIT and its partners. RIT Paris team had the intuition that it could benefit from a holistic study of its operations, using a more user-centric approach than our traditional tech-centric approach.

Challenge

Our focus during this study is the RIT Paris team, the French division of RIT. Created in 2014 this research and development team works closely with the French marketplace of Rakuten, with other businesses in Europe, and in

Japan. In the past four years, the team almost doubled its size (from 6 to 11), but kept the same way of working, which they know challenge. 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


Within only eight weeks of study, we found ways to rebalance the human and technological aspects of RIT Paris operations. Today, we are standing one month after the conclusion, and RIT Paris members still keep the momentum, working on implementing the solutions we designed as a group.

For me as a team-of-one, this project was the most ambitious ever tackled. The truth is that I was not sure about what to expect from the study, perhaps some insights or statistics to be reused later. I certainly didn’t expected coming up with so many complementary concrete solutions, and getting so much open-minded interest and involvement from both RIT Paris team and RIT partner teams.

The toughest part for me was to convince people to book half-a-day for a workshop. Also I spend almost one month writing the report, and preparing the transfert and follow-up, it was too long.

The most important takeaway of this study for me, is that innovation and any advanced technologies, involve 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, to be successful.