Case StudyProduct Team: Defining Shared Values - Embedding Inclusion in Product Development at Snap Inc.

Snap faced challenges in ensuring that its product development process was inclusive and accessible to users from diverse backgrounds. The absence of a structured approach to embedding inclusion in the development lifecycle led to potential biases in product design and limited the accessibility of Snap’s products. These issues not only affected the user experience but also risked alienating a significant portion of the user base, particularly those from underrepresented groups.

Embedding Inclusion in Product Development at Snap Inc.

The Solution

To address these challenges, Snap Inc. embarked on a mission to define and embed shared company values centered around inclusion and accessibility. This initiative aimed to create a development process that was inherently inclusive, ensuring that products were designed and tested to meet the needs of all users.

  • Assessment of Current Practices: Snap Inc. began by evaluating its existing product development processes to identify gaps and areas where inclusion could be better integrated. This assessment involved input from various teams including engineering, design, and user experience.
  • Defining Inclusion Principles: Based on the assessment, Snap Inc. defined a set of core inclusion principles that aligned with the company’s broader values. These principles emphasized empathic listening, diverse representation, and accessibility in product design.
  • Engagement and Training: Key stakeholders across the company were engaged in workshops and training sessions to understand and embrace these inclusion principles. This step was crucial in ensuring that everyone, from engineers to product managers, was aligned with the new values.
  • Inclusive Product Design: The inclusion principles were embedded into every stage of the product development lifecycle. This included ideation, prototyping, coding, testing, and release. Teams were encouraged to think critically about inclusion at each step and to use inclusive design practices.
  • Algorithm Bias Mitigation: Specific projects, such as tackling algorithm bias and improving camera experiences for users with darker skin tones, were initiated to address areas where inclusivity was critically needed. This involved close collaboration with domain experts and extensive testing to ensure fairness.
  • Continuous Feedback and Iteration: Snap Inc. established mechanisms for continuous feedback and iteration. Regular reviews, user feedback sessions, and performance metrics were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the inclusion initiatives and make necessary adjustments.
  • Leveraging Internal Community: The company leveraged its internal Snapchatter community to pilot and refine inclusive practices. This community provided valuable insights and helped iterate on processes to improve inclusivity and user experience.

Outcomes achieved

The implementation of shared company values centered around inclusion led to significant improvements in Snap Inc.’s product development process and overall company culture.

  • Improved Product Accessibility: Products were designed with a focus on accessibility, ensuring that all users, regardless of background or abilities, could effectively use and enjoy Snap’s offerings.
  • Enhanced User Experience: By addressing algorithm biases and improving camera experiences for users with darker skin tones, Snap Inc. was able to create a more equitable and enjoyable user experience.
  • Increased Employee Engagement: Employees felt more connected to the company’s mission of inclusion. The inclusive process of defining and implementing the values fostered a sense of ownership and engagement among staff.
  • Strengthened Company Culture: The shared values of inclusion and empathy became ingrained in Snap’s culture, promoting a more supportive and collaborative work environment.
  • Innovative Product Development: The focus on inclusion drove innovation in product development. Teams were encouraged to think creatively about how to make products more inclusive, leading to unique and user-centric solutions.
  • Consistent Inclusion Practices: The standardized inclusion principles ensured that best practices were uniformly applied across the organization. This consistency improved the reliability and fairness of Snap’s products.

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