You might use a design sprint to initiate a change in process or start the innovation of a product concept. This works well when you’re exploring opportunities with the goal of coming up with original concepts that ultimately will be tested in the real world — for example, if we need to understand how young parents would buy healthcare products online.
Sometimes issues come to light that need some clear changes in your product, and you can fix those things and plan additional research. For example, thoughtbot did a design sprint for Tile⁴ to optimize the team’s mobile app design to help users find keys with a device attached. After the sprint, we iterated based on what we learned and continued additional research sessions. In those following weeks, we found that making the device beep louder helped users find keys three times faster than anything else.
Monday’s structured discussions create a path for the sprint week. In the morning, you’ll start at the end and agree to a long-term goal. Next, you’ll make a map of the challenge. In the afternoon, you’ll ask the experts at your company to share what they know. Finally, you’ll pick a target: an ambitious but manageable piece of the problem that you can solve in one week.

Design sprints can help prevent you from building the wrong thing even when your customers say it’s the right thing. Larissa Levine, from the Advisory Board Company, believes that a design sprint is successful if it guides you toward building the right product feature. As she explains, “Product marketing wants to sell this one feature and says, ‘let’s build XYZ because we heard that the user said they wanted XYZ,’ when actually, that’s not the problem at all. They think they want XYZ, but it’s not it at all. So you end up building the wrong thing.”


Google has a reflective culture. Each year they review how they’re doing in terms of innovation and creativity with their Googlegeist surveys. They measure how their employees feel about innovation—do they have the right resources, the right team environment, and the right skills and mindsets? Based on the results, Google takes action to improve their 3 lowest scoring areas.
Day 3 sees us kick off prototyping, and we do this pretty much exactly as stated in the book, so nothing new to report here. It’s noise-cancelling-headphones-on mode for our resident Prototyper, and we’ll have a couple of huddles throughout the day to make sure we’re all on track. We’ll also update the client at the end of the day to keep them involved and show them what we’ve been doing throughout the day.
The other day I was contacted for advice on what someone could do who had to create a 120 hour innovation workshop. This was a challenge. Most innovation workshops I’ve helped people to develop are a half day to 3 days in length. With the exception of a 200 hour program over 4 weeks, the longest program I offer is the equivalent to a 3 credit university course…about 45 hours in length. A Design Sprint as a training workshop could be a great thing to integrate into a longer program or course, especially one where you have a full week available to the students. Students could learn many great design thinking and agile approaches to innovation through the activities of the specific days! As a bonus, they may create a real solution or innovation they can take ownership of.

Dee is the Head of Design Sprint Training at AJ&Smart, with experience training thousands of people globally on how to facilitate Design Sprints, including companies like LEGO and Slack. Prior to AJ&Smart she was working with leading agencies and also worked at an online course provider, training the next generation of UX and UI Designers.  Fun fact: Dee is known to be called the “Beyonce of the Design Sprint”. 


The Sprint facilitator’s job is to talk to all those people, gather information, refine the problem statement and make sure everyone is clear and onboard with the problem you are solving before entering the Sprint. After the pre-work, a better version of the previous problem statement might be “How can we create a digital solution to help small individual Delis in New York City to manage food waste and increase revenue.”
What Google learned from their research is similar to what developed within IDEO over the course of 30 years where trust, purpose, and impact have evolved to become central to IDEO’s culture. There’s a focus on establishing trust and building relationships by designing intentional moments, which we call rituals. For example, IDEO’s weekly tea time ritual was designed as a way to encourage collaboration and “casual collisions”—a time when people step away from what they’re working on and connect with each other. Small, consistent moments like tea time are a prime way to deepen relationships and trust over time.

Sometimes issues come to light that need some clear changes in your product, and you can fix those things and plan additional research. For example, thoughtbot did a design sprint for Tile⁴ to optimize the team’s mobile app design to help users find keys with a device attached. After the sprint, we iterated based on what we learned and continued additional research sessions. In those following weeks, we found that making the device beep louder helped users find keys three times faster than anything else.


You’re the product person in your organization. You may have no one reporting to you. You might have 50 people in your product group. You might be responsible for the entire product. Maybe the design team doesn’t report to you, nor do the developers or marketing and sales teams. Maybe you’re in a startup without all those defined roles, and you wear a lot of hats. Maybe you’re in a large enterprise organization that has each one defined to the nth degree. Maybe you are a product design freelancer. You might work in an agency as a consultant. You probably have read a blog post about this process. Maybe you even tried one yourself. You’re very likely wondering how your unique needs will work with design sprints and are seeking more information than you can find in a few blog posts. https://res.cloudinary.com/practicaldev/image/fetch/s--gk0eqZrY--/c_imagga_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,h_100,q_auto,w_100/https://thepracticaldev.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/user/profile_image/64057/722ec19f-029b-479d-a34b-33cf27a5fe79.jpg
In 2012 and 2013, the Google Ventures team published a how-to series about Design Sprints, and the process started to spread. The Sprint book came out in 2016, and today, thousands of teams around the world have run sprints in startups (like Slack and Airbnb), big companies (like LEGO and Google), agencies (like IDEO and McKinsey), schools (like Stanford and Columbia), governments (like the UK and the UN), and even museums (like the British Museum and the Smithsonian).

Graphite introduced design sprints to clients in the first year that the the process was published by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky at Google Ventures, which means we’ve optimised our own design sprints throughout the years. After facilitating many design sprints for our clients including Pfizer and Safilo, we realised that many clients wanted to train their own in-house teams in the design sprint methodology. Here are the design sprint training courses we offer. We also facilitate & provide design sprint teams.


For our first dispatch of 2019, we’ve assembled enough Google Design goodies to put a spring in your step. Our roundup includes a big story on Waymo—exploring how the company’s designers built a brand new UX playbook to foster user trust; an artful interview with technologist John Maeda on agile leadership; and deep insights from UX Director Margaret Lee, who penned an essay on how her immigrant upbringing shaped her take on leadership. We also compiled a fresh selection of “5 Things to Love Right Now”—curated by San Francisco-based designer Shannon May. Dig in for a new bloom of insights and inspiration.Subscribe to the Google Design Newsletter 
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