Our Thoughts

Sharing Our Year in Review: A Commitment to the Value of Learning

Posted by Kevin Johnson on Feb 24, 2016 9:00:00 AM
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Jeff Williams presenting "2016 Strategy" to team

On January 22, Springthrough officially closed the door on 2015 and looked forward to 2016. We celebrated our annual Year in Review event: a mixture of retrospection and discussing strategy with a heavy emphasis on fun. The Year in Review is one of our more popular events in the office.

The concept is simple. Employees sign up to give a 10-15 minute presentation on something they accomplished, learned or lead in the past year. We learn from each other. We have lunch. We have a few cold pops and treats. We have fun. In addition, our President shares the strategy and goals for the upcoming year. We celebrate the past while preparing for the future in a way that’s engaging and impactful.

The Year in Review provides a way to take action on our values. At Springthrough, we live by seven core values:

 

  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Passion
  • Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Action
  • Learning

 

These values are an essential piece of our corporate culture as they shape the way we think, act and interact with each other. We look for candidates with this mentality. We incorporate them into performance reviews. And we invest in developing these traits within our team.

The Year in Review event connects with a number of our organizational values, but it most closely aligns with our value of Learning. In a consulting environment like ours, things move and change quickly. It is sometimes difficult to maintain awareness of all the client projects we accomplish throughout the year; we want to focus on the next opportunity at hand. But without taking a moment to reflect, you lose an opportunity to learn from what you did and what has changed (either in your knowledge or the digital world) since the project started. At the Year in Review event, we learn about the new technologies, methodologies and processes that help us meet our clients’ needs.

In addition to developing our technical knowledge, we also want to develop our soft skills through this event. Team members prepare by putting together a presentation and then build their public speaking skills as they share accomplishments.

One of our projects in 2015 

One of the unique projects came from a Lead Developer, Mitch Kett. Mitch presented a prototype iOS app he developed for a client in the motocross industry. The client was looking for a social media platform that allowed users to track individual lap times and compete with their connections. Think gamification for motocross enthusiasts. On the motocross market, there exists specialized equipment to track lap times, but those come with a high price tag. Our client wanted this to be able to use nothing more than a smartphone.

The primary question Mitch needed to answer was if the idea was actually doable. He knew he could build the app with the built-in GPS on an iPhone, but he needed to compare how the information he gathered from the phone compared to real life. With the fast speeds of motocross, the client wanted accuracy within .2 seconds. This created the largest challenge, as the phone GPS will only check location once per second. By comparison, the specialized devices in this space check location 20 times per second. Mitch was pleasantly surprised to learn that the latest iPhone versions contain a processor to gather motion data in addition to GPS. So even with the limited refresh rate on the iPhone, the prototype met the client’s needs for accuracy.

Through his own research and initiative, Mitch learned a lot with this challenging project. He found creative ways to try and test how the app would work with standard phone equipment. For example, he knew that GPS works best when you have a very clear line of sight. So to test his prototype, he walked around the office and in our urban neighborhood and saw the accuracy diminish as he had to deal with building interference. But the price of GPS equipment goes up quickly as refresh rates increase, which didn’t fit within the client’s project goal.

 

Collage of map of the test laps for the app

Screenshots of the laps recorded on the iPhone with Mitch's app.  

 

Ultimately, the client wanted an app that was accurate and more fun that its competitors by incorporating the social component. The prototype was viewed as a success and Mitch continues to work with the client as they move forward with their business plan

By sharing his story, Mitch helped the team feel proud of Springthrough’s role for clients. He got to use his technical knowledge with creativity to solve a problem. And now we all know a little more about the capabilities of a mobile app.

 

Photo collage of team talking, laughing, and presenting

 

Springthrough is very intentional to live by our organizational values each day and truly have them impact the way we do business. When it comes to Learning, there are a number of ways we can support and foster this among team members and the Year in Review event is one that allows us to do that in a fun and interactive way. We have an opportunity to learn from our colleagues as they present accomplishments but we also learn and grow in significant ways as we prepare and present to others.

 http://blog.springthrough.com/the-problem-with-stem-education-for-a-digital-company

Topics: West Michigan, Company Culture

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