Bringing the circus into town: the perks of Lighthouse Teams
In a nutshell
What's behind our Lighthouse way of working? Discover how to bring in the right resources, gain speed, trigger innovation and share knowledge when building digital products.
Everyone who’s interested in agile team organisation, smart collaboration and accelerated innovation
In 1946, residents around the Lockheed Martin factory were presented with a peculiar sight. A large circus tent standing in their parking lot. No lions, or clowns within sight, but that tent sheltered a different kind of magic. Within the circus, a special team created the world's first jet fighter in only 143 days. The tent, and the team it housed, became known as Skunk Works. That name and way of working still resonates today in our own company. Skunk Works became the base of what we like to call Lighthouse Teams.
Today, we also set up our own circus tents - or Lighthouse Teams - next to our client's businesses. Lighthouse teams have become a crucial part of our way of working, so let's have a look at what's behind it and what advantages it brings to the table.
The idea behind Lighthouse Teams
Lighthouses are stand-alone buildings that show others the way. Our product teams share the same intention: showing a company the right path towards digital growth. Naturally, not every company has all the in-house power to realise their digital dreams, so they partner up with a digital expert.
But not every digital player has the same way of working. Way too often, digital partners offer body shopping or suggest dropping individual tech profiles as the solution. Lighthouse Teams, by nature, strive for a more collaborative way of working.
In analogy to Lockheed Martin, the idea is to set up a figurative circus tent outside the company to accelerate the time to market. The crew inside the tent is a hand-picked team that has a mandate to focus on one challenge only. No company-related distractions, just sheer commitment towards one specific goal.
In other words: they spin out to innovate and spin back in to grow the business.
This clear mandate, together with a dedicated team and no distractions, makes it possible to gain speed and significantly fasten the time to market. During the collaboration, the Lighthouse Team continuously transfers knowledge towards the client's company to integrate the product into the company. In other words: they spin out to innovate and spin back in to grow the business.
Providing the right resources
What does a Lighthouse Team look like? There’s no one-sided answer to that question, but it’s always a story of joined forces. Getting the right people on board of Lighthouse Teams always starts with the core of the challenge. What do we need to realise? Which skills and knowledge does the client have in-house? Do they have experience with an agile way of working, product design or lean thinking?
Based on the challenge and the client’s own capabilities, we assemble a team that’s complementary to the client's and that has a hard focus on the challenge at hand.
As a digital product studio, we know as no other that when you're building a digital product, the only constant is change. And change should be embraced in Lighthouse Teams. That's why they install a culture of transparency and trust through frequent interaction, hosted in a cross-company core team. These people, from both sides, openly discuss the scope, problems, next steps and team needs at any given stage of building a digital product.
Lighthouse Teams are alive and breathing, constantly evolving and being assessed. They change over time. It’s natural that during a discovery phase there’s more need for strategic profiles, while during development more technical profiles should be embraced in the team.
Speed of delivery
Speed of delivery is one of the major advantages a Lighthouse Team brings. They aren’t strictly attached to the core business and remain focused on one single challenge. And it’s exactly that autonomous character that allows them to avoid day-to-day hurdles and pick up momentum.
Although product managers on both sides ensure the story fits in the bigger picture, a Lighthouse Team mainly operates on its own and evades delaying internal processes like step-by-step management approval which would slow everything down.
Besides overcoming hurdles, the team’s experience adds to that speed and momentum. It’s simple: they fill in the gaps of skills and knowledge that the company doesn’t have. Working with a Lighthouse Team means you don’t start from scratch, you start with years of experience right from the getaway.
Sharing for the future
It's the nature of circuses to disappear over time and the same applies to Lighthouse Teams. They’re meant to show you the way and to bring the right people for the right challenge. But perhaps most importantly: they intend to leave an empowered company behind.
There are no hard cut-offs in this story. Instead of trying to hand over the product in the final stage of collaboration, Lighthouse teams implement a continuous flow of knowledge sharing right from the start. Step by step, they share learnings with the client so they can gradually take ownership of the product itself and implement it in their core business.
Lighthouse teams give time and space to clients to prepare themselves for full control of their digital product, from the discovery phase to aftercare. Even when the transition is almost fully complete, the team remains stand-by for any possible hick-ups or unexpected issues.
A circus on your parking lot?
To state in a Biblical mantra: instead of giving a man a fish, teach them how to fish. Eventually, the circus will pack up and leave behind an empowered company that took a huge step forward towards its digital future.
Ever felt like you're building your product in a slow, robust environment? Shame. Join In The Pocket and make an actual impact.