There is no shortage of inspiration and ideas. The challenge can be to efficiently refine these ideas into compelling products. At Artefact, our job and passion is turning new ideas into successful products. Project Helium is the synthesis of our approach to innovation and the lessons we have learned from practicing it for years. While building product has gotten easier, building the right product often remains elusive.
We seek to empower others with a tool that enables them to:
- Amplify the quality of insights
- Accelerate the time to converge on insights and decisions
- Augment the human and team decision making processes
Today we are opening Project Helium for your feedback.
Explore Ideas: Diverge, Converge, Repeat
In our own work we take a deliberate approach to experimentation and iteration. Creativity is often rooted in combining unlikely pairs of ideas across domains. Going broad to collect inspirations and ideas, only to come together to analyze, refine, accept or refute a hypothesis. Then do it again and again, until we are confident that we have the right idea. We believe a design thinking approach, such as this, is crucial to delivering compelling products.
During the course of the experiments, we amass a lot of physical and digital tidbits in the form of sticky notes and white board scribbles, photos, and videos from the field, articles from the internet and all the digital assets created during the design process. Today we use Box to store terabytes of data and refine the information using various tools of the trade, such as, Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk, InVision, Microsoft Office and Trello. Each of these tools are best suited for the respective task at hand. Yet the place where we create and store the data is not in the same place as where we have the most meaningful conversations. As a result, a lot of these specialized silos end up behaving like digital graveyards of ideas.
What-if: Instead of just collecting,
we could explore ideas across digital boundaries?
Helium helps you discover and uncover creative connections visually and viscerally. Just like with Pinterest and Evernote, we have focused on making it easy to capture inspiration and ideas. Sparks are the seed of an idea or insight, the building blocks of Helium. A Spark can be in the form of a note, a website (links to content from the web or cloud repositories, such as Box) or photo.
Drag and drop Sparks to create affinity groups on the fly. There’s no limit to the number or hierarchy of groups. Invite team members to collaborate, comment and Like. We now have a better bird’s eye view across projects, tools and services.
Like most of us, you probably get too many emails and messages from Trello Slack messages asking you to “check this out…” More often than not one key piece of information is missing: why is this interesting to checkout.
To this end, with Helium, you can add your insight as you post the content. In turn, making it useful for you on day one and help others skim for summaries of key ideas.
Multiple perspectives to uncover hidden insights
We have designed Helium to feel like a guided exploration without being too heavy handed. The initial Beta experience provides digital design thinking tools that you can customize for:
- Voting: avoid group bias with multiple blind votes per person per criteria. Useful when you want clarity against a single dimension.
- 2x2 matrix: Useful for visualizing trade-offs across two dimensions. Essential for an individual to make the tough trade-off decisions. Great for a group of collaborators to converge on a shared set of beliefs.
Additional tools and methods coming soon.
Helium amplifies the quality of your insights. Analyzing Sparks using the tools is as easy as drag-and-drop. To help scale your thinking and accelerate the time to insight, every tool captures the placement of Sparks as accumulated knowledge. We call this learning machine: the Inference Engine (patent pending).
This accumulated knowledge can be leveraged across tools, groups and projects, making it easy to consider many perspectives, quickly. The Inference Engine helps you accelerate the collective analysis process for better insights, faster.
Shared understanding builds consensus
Exploring ideas and refining them into insights provides the necessary conditions for success. However, much like shipping products and finishing races, the last mile feels like it is the longest and hardest.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. ” — Simon Senek, Start With Why
Ideas and Insights are in service of presenting and cultivating a shared belief. Helium augments the human and team decision making process.
This is a first set of tools to foster effective decision making:
- Synthesis tool: an expert system powered by the Inference Engine. This tool will organize and help you see relevant insights in one place along with the supporting Sparks in visually compelling graphs. You can quickly pivot across dimensions to make a more informed decision.
- Presentation tool (coming soon): a lightweight tool that makes it easier to present Decisions and the supporting evidence — Sparks, Insights, Comments and Likes. You can tell a great story and seamlessly share the story behind the story.
Refine by shipping
We said it before — building things may have gotten easier, but building the right things often remains elusive.
We believe in the spirit of refine by shipping, as described by Lean Start-up. We are excited to present our Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and opening broader access to Beta for Project Helium.
About a hundred creative entrepreneurs, beyond our studio, are already using Helium for their own work. We are very grateful for their early support and feedback, which has been instrumental in refining the Market Fit. We want to refine our Product Fit hypothesis to delight creative teams and entrepreneurs.
Share with us the good, the bad and the ugly. Armed with your feedback and a new set of insights, our goal is to quickly refine this Beta experience to a Minimally Magical Product (What is MMP? — more on this in an upcoming post.)
Join our Beta program and start using the tool.