Who this lab is for

What you'll do

In this lab, you're going to:

What you'll learn

What you'll need

This section explains the essential concepts that you need to know before starting this lab. Further concepts will be introduced when you encounter them for the first time during the lab.

What's NEXT?

NEXT is Business Design software trusted by high performing organizations. Rooted in design thinking and lean methods, NEXT helps clients engage, empower, and cross-functionally align their workforce to:

Essentially, NEXT is an intuitive tool, helping you to simplify your innovation journey and build well-substantiated and validated value propositions.

What's a Project?

A Project is a design effort initiated to solve a business Challenge and operationalize an Opportunity. Projects collectively contribute towards the objectives (North Star) of the Theme.

A project's life cycle in NEXT is broken down into 5 phases. Teams start from an initial business Challenge and finish with a fully-fledged business case, articulated in the form of a Canvas. Teams produce the Canvas by going through the design-led step-by-step process embedded in NEXT. This ensures that projects result in business cases rooted in verified customer needs and market trends, are systematically creative by combining internal ideas with external inspiration, are prototyped and tested, and have a thoughtful plan for their implementation.

Project roles

Each project has a Team Lead, Team Participants, a Project Sponsor and a Champion (you). Each project member has a different role:

Click here for a more detailed overview of the different roles & routines NEXT recommends.

What's a Canvas?

The final deliverable of every project is a Canvas - think of it as a modern-day business case.

The canvas provides real-time visibility and access to a project in a single view. The Canvas is auto-populated as the team progresses through their project - you can think of the Canvas as the dashboard of the project. All data is always updated to the minute and aligned with the latest thinking of the project team. All deliverables are pushed into the Canvas in real-time, providing Sponsors with easy access and visibility into projects.

In a single view, the Canvas provides a Champion with all information needed to get an update on the latest deliverables created by the project team.

Benefits of the NEXT Canvas

Traditional Business Model Canvas are static - a one page print out that you fill with assumptions. In contrast, the NEXT Canvas is dynamic and contains validated deliverables. For example, you can not only see for whom the problem was solved but - with one click - learn all about the Goals, Pains, Behaviors, etc. of this particular Persona. If you wonder why, for instance, the team thinks that a Persona experiences a certain Pain: You can click the source of the Pain and find out during which User Interview, Wild Safari, or other task, the finding was detected. In other words, NEXT continuously provides you with the evidence needed to verify each finding - a so-called "system of record".

Before you can get going in NEXT, we first have to get access and set up your profile.

Access NEXT

  1. Go to https://[company_name].nextapp.co/ (e.g. https://mycompany.nextapp.co/)
  2. Sign in with the credentials provided to you earlier

Set up your profile

By default, your profile name is derived from your email address and your profile photo is an avatar initial. Configure your profile so your colleagues can find you:

  1. In the top left-hand corner of the screen, click on your name and click on "Profile & Account";
  2. Click on "Edit" to adjust your name and click "Save" once you're done;
  3. To upload a profile picture: click the big black circle.

Install NEXT on your desktop (Chrome only)

You can install NEXT on your desktop to access it directly - with one click:

  1. Open NEXT in Chrome (Note: Chrome only!)
  2. Click on your name in the upper-left corner to open the popup menu
  3. Click option "Install on desktop"

Now you're all set to go to the next steps!

After setting up your profile in NEXT, let's start doing real things in NEXT!

Open your project

Your Team Lead or Champion has set up your project and scheduled the first steps. All you have to do now is to dive right in!

  1. Find your project in the left-hand navigation menu under "Projects"
  2. Click on your project to open it

Explore Workspace

  1. On top of the screen you'll see the name of your project and tabs for the key sections of your project:

  1. Below you see the timeline, which shows you where you are in the process and allows you to access other phases (note: your organization might have changed the phase names to match your internal lingo):

  1. Below that, you will see the phase specific content. For Briefing, this will be the (empty) Brief of your project:

You will find all these elements on every phase overview page.

Explore Brief

  1. Click on the Brief card in the middle of your screen to open your Brief
  2. On the right side, you see the Brief -- the deliverable of this phase. This will fill up automatically as you work through the steps of the process on the left hand side.

  1. On the left side of the screen, you see the steps of the process, which you need to take to develop your Brief:

  1. Notice the scheduled start- and end-date scheduled by your Team Lead and the planned first Sprint Standup (teams are recommended to organize weekly 15-minute meetings to discuss the progress and schedule tasks for the upcoming period).

What's a step?

In every phase, NEXT provides you with a step-by-step method to create your deliverables. A step guides you towards completing a distinct aspect of the deliverable (e.g. "Create your Challenge", "Identify your project ambitions", etc). The logic and order of these steps is rooted in the best practices of design thinking and lean methodology. As such, it's recommended you proceed through steps in the order provided (Step 1, Step 2, ...)

What's a task?

Tasks are recommended design actions to help you accomplish the objectives of the step. A task is supported by videos, content, templates and other learning material to help you complete it.

Explore steps & tasks

Your Team Lead has scheduled all steps and tasks in the Briefing phase. Let's take a look:

  1. Click the step "Create your Challenge"

  1. Read the step's description to get a feeling for what the step aims to achieve
  2. Note that your Team Lead has scheduled the step's due date
  3. On the left-hand side, you'll find all tasks that have been scheduled so far, on the right-hand side you find raspberry-colored buttons that allow you to add a new task

After exploring the tasks that have been scheduled so far, let's execute the first one: "Challenge Framing".

Execute first task

  1. Open Step 1: "Create your Challenge"
  2. Open the scheduled task "Challenge Framing" by clicking it
  3. Take a few minutes to learn how to execute this task - pay special attention to who should join and the time allocation

  1. Click the "Learn more" link in "Instructions for Challenge Framing"
  2. Print the Challenge Framing Canvas template provided and get started by following the instructions provided
  3. Once you finished internally discussing your challenge, head to the task
  4. Click the report card of the task which currently reads "No Challenge defined yet."
  5. Enter the Challenge based on your discussion, click Save.
  6. Now that you've completed the task, click the checkbox in front of the task's name ("Challenge Framing") to mark the task complete. The checkbox and date for the task will turn green to indicate you're done.
  7. Notice that in the step overview, now you can see the task you accomplished

  1. All tasks in NEXT follow this same logic.

Mark step as complete

Let's try out the steps you will have to take once your first step is completed:

  1. Open step "Create your Challenge"
  2. Click the button "Mark complete". This will change the button to indicate its completed state. The deadline turns green as well to indicate that step is completed.
  3. [Clean up] Click again on the "Completed" button to set the step back to not completed
  4. Click "x" to close the "Create your Challenge" step

What are sprints?

After you learned how to execute tasks, it's time to look at how to work together as a winning project team!

NEXT promotes an agile way of working. If you have used any agile methodology - like Scrum, Kanban, or Lean - NEXT will feel very natural to you.

The core idea is to work in fixed length iterations, called "Sprints", and steer the project as you learn more along the way. This agile workstyle tends to fit better to the less predictable nature of innovation than a static methodology which tries to plan all details on day 1. Sprints help you stay focused, increase transparency and help you prioritize work easier.

To foster this way of working, we encourage you to organize sprint standups. Sprint standups are short face-to-face or remote meetings where the team discusses what they achieved during the last period, what they plan for the next period, and what challenges they envision. Sprint standups are brief, action-oriented, and focused on the past/current period. A sprint standup should take no more than 15 minutes.

Run a sprint standup

Your Team Lead has scheduled periodic sprint standups that you'll run as a team. Let's dry-run a first standup:

  1. Open the "Sprint" tab on top of the project-page
  2. Download and review the Sprint Standup Cheat Sheet
  3. Set the reporting period to "Last week" in the upper-right corner of the screen to get an overview of all activities of the last period and scheduled upcoming activities.
  4. Review if all scheduled tasks for the last week were completed.
  5. Let task participants share noteworthy insights from the tasks.
  6. Review the scheduled tasks for the current and next period. For a good standup, consider asking questions such as:
  1. Is this a good work load or should you schedule further tasks?
  2. Does the workload allow us to remain on schedule?
  3. Do you need any external help completing any of the tasks (e.g. from your Sponsor, domain expert, etc.)?
  4. Are there any overdue tasks (appearing red)? If yes, reschedule or delete them.
  1. Review unscheduled tasks. Should any of these tasks be scheduled for this period?

Quick-access your tasks

Now you know how projects, steps and tasks work, it's time to find the tasks that have been assigned to you. In order to find your tasks, you don't need to dive all the way into a project!

  1. Click on "My tasks" in the left-hand navigation menu

  1. Browse through the list of tasks
  2. Filter on your project by clicking the "Filter:..." button in the right-upper corner
  3. Sort your tasks by clicking on the "Sort:..." button in the right-upper corner
  4. Click on a task to open it:

  1. Review the due date, participants, notes and attachments.

  1. Click on the "Sort" button and sort your tasks by "Project":

Congratulations, you now know how projects, steps and tasks work and you'll be able to find any task assigned to you within the project or by using "My tasks".

Have fun innovating and changing the world with NEXT!

PS: Still something unclear? NEXT Support is always there to help.