Presentation: 5 Simple Tools to Unlock Innovation

Track: Optimizing Yourself: Human Skills for Individuals

Location: Seacliff ABC

Duration: 2:55pm - 3:45pm

Day of week:

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What You’ll Learn

  1. Hear about the need to encourage innovation.
  2. Learn about five tools that can be used to spur innovation.


Customer needs are ever evolving, as is our technology landscape. In this talk you will receive 5 tools to help ignite innovation and expose unspoken customer needs. These tools come from each phase of the design thinking framework.

In this talk, Sarah will share her experience with these tools used on her engineering teams at companies big and small. These tools are applicable to all roles and types of engineering teams who are craving ways to spark innovation and increase creativity in their work. Even if you have a large backlog of needs defined, these tools can transform the way you build those solutions. You will learn methods for connecting with your customer and tap into insights they wish they knew how to express. This is the session your customer and inner innovator wants you to attend to spark creativity and joy in your work.


What is the focus of your work these days?


I'm currently at  Gravity Payments and I am leading our engineering team. We provide credit card processing services for small to medium size businesses, and a lot of people have heard of us as the 70 K company. We're able to help small businesses compete.


What is the motivation for your talk?


You mentioned that at QCon we have an audience of innovators and I want to be sharing a framework that I have personally used both in an innovation lab type setting and on a development team with a deep backlog with a well-defined product. I've been able to successfully use tools from design thinking frameworks to help inspire innovation at any point in a product’s lifecycle.


How would you describe the persona and the level of the target audience?


The persona is anyone that is interested in finding out a little bit more about their customers' problems. If you're looking for different ways to inspire creative thinking and get closer to empathy for what your customers are facing, I'm going to be offering some tried and true methods. It could be for people that are well versed with design thinking and also people that have no exposure to that. I'll be touching on all five phases of design thinking with a practical tool that they can use immediately.


What do you want this persona to walk away from your talk with?


I want them to walk away with at least one of the five tools that I'll be sharing for them to be able to go back and start using that with their team immediately.

Speaker: Sarah Shewell

Director of Engineering @GravityPymts

I help teams discover what their customers need through empathy, build it with quality, and continuously improve how they do those things. When not at work I like to explore kid and dog friendly breweries and make things with my hands.

Find Sarah Shewell at

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