Laika is a collaboration tool that helps agile teams to boost their development process.​​​​​​​

My Role

As Lead Designer on this project I worked closely with the PO and the development team, through the overall Research&Development journey for this tool. My role gave me the opportunity to interview and story-mapping a unique target such as Design Teams from Tokyo's tech scene. During the development of Laika and the pivoted MVPs before it, we listen at the stories of design teams from: Rakuten, Team Lab, Retty, Finc, Mericari, Wantedly, Pairs, Mixi, Cybozu, Cyber Agent, GuruNavi, Lancers, Gengo, and Goodpatch.


Laika usage flow
Genesys of Laika

The company Goodpatch is famous for its prototyping tool Prott App, though this software Goodpatch has become a sort of evangelist to other companies for what concerns the team's collaboration and the use of Design to solve problems. I joined the company to work in their Product Division, where I got the assignment to field research in Tokyo's IT startup ecosystem. The goal of my team was to interview and define a path of companies design team processes, to define a common struggle for teams involved with development.
On top of the organizational problems, sometimes results of the "ultra top-to-down" type of hierarchical structure, team members were forced to use too many collaboration tools. The result was to have project managers, designers, and developers overwhelmed by communications and lacking focus on the big picture of their work.

In the specific most of Product Design teams in Tokyo were using a combo of  Slack, Github, Jira, Trello, Redmine, Dropbox (or Drive), Spreadsheets and Skype (???), to get everybody on the same page, share knowledge within the developers and have a clear understanding of the milestones.

The most overwhelmed in the team were the Project Managers, in charge of following each discussion on multiple platforms. It is worth to mention that 90% of these teams were not following any Agile methodology in their daily activities. 

After the interview, we considered the opportunity to create a tool to ease the pain of the team's management system.
The idea from the interviews was the necessity to reduce the amount of tools teams were using drastically. 
Also, organize the conversations around User Stories, centralize the knowledge sharing, and openly share the development backlog with all the team members. Eventually, install a mindset to embrace Agile development. 

Targeting PMs first: inMinutes

At first, we decided to start lean and try to solve one issue at the time. PMs were the most overwhelmed by the large amount of communication facilitation work throughout all the tools and channels. 
We made few attempts to design a simple (but smart!) notepad to help managers who constantly take notes and minutes from meetings. The notepad automated highlighted text into actionable items, assignable to third part-task managers or productivity software.  We called the software inMInutes.
By building this tool, we wanted to test how much time the PMs were saving by channeling all their daily tasks from one editor. 

Inminutes prototype interface
After months of testing, we validated the failure. PMs loved the idea but were not positive to abandon some of their fav tools for taking notes, instead, we noticed the struggle they had with some productivity tool they were supposed to use, because of the company's contract with those ones.​​​​​​​

What we learned is that we wanted to replace the only tool they had the freedom to choose. 

We moved forward, analyzing all the data from the interviews and the user testing again; eventually, we ran a new round of interviews, ending up with new prototypes like this "smart notepad/kanban actionable by markdowns."
We got inspired by an interesting concept were Designers and Developers were able to nurture they building flows without necessary having a Product Manager to oversight the progress of the team. 

We built Naruto with the assumption that small product teams could just share their progress by versioning their data such as Sketch files or even Github issues, on a timeline. The concept was intriguing for many, but probably too experimental for Goodpatch product division.


The age of Laika

We built Laika because we wanted to help the product teams to focus on the issues that matter the most and prioritize their work.
Laika's three main features were: the Backlog, the Kanban, and the Roadmap. 
Items on the Backlog would exist as User Stories. A user story can be streamlined into the Backlog to define the feature that will be eventually built. Each backlog item has a status, can be commented, and "pushed" in the Kanban or in GitHub whenever it's a development issue.
Landing Page Concept Design
Mobile site

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