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
You can’t change what you can’t measure, right? One of the biggest questions we initially faced when implementing design sprints in our organizations was “How do you measure the success of a design sprint?” In our experience, it was often the absence of something that we were trying to measure. For example, how do you measure the amount of time you won’t spend on bad product development? How much money will you save by not investing in a product that will make less ROI? Those questions point toward future gains by not spending some difficult-to-calculate amount of time or money. How do you measure the absence of a failed product? 

Instead of an endless debate or a watered-down group decision nobody's happy with, you'll use the five-step "Sticky Decision" method to identify the best solutions before turning the final decision over to your Decider. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take the winning scenes from your sketches and combine them into a storyboard: a step-by-step plan for your prototype. 

“Sprints begin with a big challenge, an excellent team — and not much else. By Friday of your sprint week, you’ve created promising solutions, chosen the best, and built a realistic prototype. That alone would make for an impressively productive week. But Friday, you’ll take it one step further as you interview customers and learn by watching them react to your prototype. This test makes the entire sprint worthwhile: At the end of the day you’ll know how far you have to go, and you’ll know just what to do next.”


“Design Sprints proved to be a valuable tool for accelerating our early-stage, service-driven innovation initiatives. The Design Sprint School team and approach have been instrumental in helping us create the environment and the internal capacity to run our Service Design Sprints for internal Ventures and for running Co-innovation at our Cisco Innovation Centers around the world”
Organizations can often take months to create a new product concept…and many times that product concept was not validated by customer need or designed for what is most important to the business and customers. A design sprint can significantly shorten that timeframe into an intense 5 day period that is very productive. Five full days for a team dedicated to a design sprint is still more than many organizations or professionals can allocate. Our design sprint training workshops will show you this approach and how you can have more of a design sprint mindset and be able to get started with key activities.
Design thinking is a socially conscious approach that demands tech savviness but also calls on the humanity of the designer. In the case of Google Glass, a simple, intuitive assessment of the cultural moment may have revealed the culprits of Glass’s eventual downfall. Students of all ages who are engaged in design thinking could have told us: It’s kind of creepy. It’s dorky. We have to wear a computer on our faces?
Understand: the team maps out the problem to focus on, and unites under a shared brain; this phase involves lightning talks, which are 10- to 15-minute sessions given by knowledge experts, as well as the “How might we” note-taking method, and affinity mapping; the team puts himself in the shoes of the user with user journey mapping, user interviews, empathy building exercises, and success metrics;
Learn fast, fail fast. The sprint helps to obtain a clear vision of the goals upfront. It forces you to make critical decisions and solve complex problems fast. This means that you and your team can save months of design, engineering and development costs. The bonus? You’ll be able to get your product to market faster because you focussed on the right thing.
You can’t change what you can’t measure, right? One of the biggest questions we initially faced when implementing design sprints in our organizations was “How do you measure the success of a design sprint?” In our experience, it was often the absence of something that we were trying to measure. For example, how do you measure the amount of time you won’t spend on bad product development? How much money will you save by not investing in a product that will make less ROI? Those questions point toward future gains by not spending some difficult-to-calculate amount of time or money. How do you measure the absence of a failed product?
Humans naturally develop patterns of thinking modeled on repetitive activities and commonly accessed knowledge. These assist us in quickly applying the same actions and knowledge in similar or familiar situations, but they also have the potential to prevent us from quickly and easily accessing or developing new ways of seeing, understanding and solving problems. These patterns of thinking are often referred to as schemas, which are organized sets of information and relationships between things, actions and thoughts that are stimulated and initiated in the human mind when we encounter some environmental stimuli. A single schema can contain a vast amount of information. For example, we have a schema for dogs which encompasses the presence of four legs, fur, sharp teeth, a tail, paws, and a number of other perceptible characteristics. When the environmental stimuli match this schema — even when there is a tenuous link or only a few of the characteristics are present — the same pattern of thought is brought into the mind. As these schemas are stimulated automatically, this can obstruct a more fitting impression of the situation or prevent us from seeing a problem in a way that will enable a new problem-solving strategy. Innovative problem solving is also known as “thinking outside of the box”.
Humans naturally develop patterns of thinking modeled on repetitive activities and commonly accessed knowledge. These assist us in quickly applying the same actions and knowledge in similar or familiar situations, but they also have the potential to prevent us from quickly and easily accessing or developing new ways of seeing, understanding and solving problems. These patterns of thinking are often referred to as schemas, which are organized sets of information and relationships between things, actions and thoughts that are stimulated and initiated in the human mind when we encounter some environmental stimuli. A single schema can contain a vast amount of information. For example, we have a schema for dogs which encompasses the presence of four legs, fur, sharp teeth, a tail, paws, and a number of other perceptible characteristics. When the environmental stimuli match this schema — even when there is a tenuous link or only a few of the characteristics are present — the same pattern of thought is brought into the mind. As these schemas are stimulated automatically, this can obstruct a more fitting impression of the situation or prevent us from seeing a problem in a way that will enable a new problem-solving strategy. Innovative problem solving is also known as “thinking outside of the box”.
To help you understand Design Thinking, we have broken the process into five phases or modes, which are: 1. Empathise, 2. Define, 3. Ideate, 4. Prototype, and 5. Test. What’s special about Design Thinking is that designers’ work processes can help us systematically extract, teach, learn, and apply these human-centered techniques to solve problems in a creative and innovative way – in our designs, in our businesses, in our nations (and eventually, if things go really well, beyond), in our lives. Nevertheless, a great artist like Auguste Rodin, who created this famous sculpture called “The Thinker” and originally “Le Penseur”, would most likely have used the very same innovative processes in his artwork. In the same way, all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering and business have practiced it and still practice it.

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).
Humans naturally develop patterns of thinking modeled on repetitive activities and commonly accessed knowledge. These assist us in quickly applying the same actions and knowledge in similar or familiar situations, but they also have the potential to prevent us from quickly and easily accessing or developing new ways of seeing, understanding and solving problems. These patterns of thinking are often referred to as schemas, which are organized sets of information and relationships between things, actions and thoughts that are stimulated and initiated in the human mind when we encounter some environmental stimuli. A single schema can contain a vast amount of information. For example, we have a schema for dogs which encompasses the presence of four legs, fur, sharp teeth, a tail, paws, and a number of other perceptible characteristics. When the environmental stimuli match this schema — even when there is a tenuous link or only a few of the characteristics are present — the same pattern of thought is brought into the mind. As these schemas are stimulated automatically, this can obstruct a more fitting impression of the situation or prevent us from seeing a problem in a way that will enable a new problem-solving strategy. Innovative problem solving is also known as “thinking outside of the box”.
Sometimes a design sprint can get rid of those preconceived notions. Michael Webb, cofounder of InnoLoft startup resident itsgr82bme, entered a design sprint with a clear idea in his head about using APIs as a means for connecting its calendar of family-friendly events with other sites’ event listings. During the sprint, he realized this could be done without using any APIs at all. He ended the sprint in a very different place.
“Sprints begin with a big challenge, an excellent team — and not much else. By Friday of your sprint week, you’ve created promising solutions, chosen the best, and built a realistic prototype. That alone would make for an impressively productive week. But Friday, you’ll take it one step further as you interview customers and learn by watching them react to your prototype. This test makes the entire sprint worthwhile: At the end of the day you’ll know how far you have to go, and you’ll know just what to do next.”
Test the prototype with real live humans, and validate. The team finally gets to see live users interact with their idea,s and hear direct feedback from the target audience. Everyone on the team observes the Validation sessions: watching your users try out the prototype is the best way to discover major issues with your design, which in turn lets you start iterating immediately. In addition, the team can organize a review to collect feedback from Technical Experts or Leadership Stakeholders.
“Design Sprints proved to be a valuable tool for accelerating our early-stage, service-driven innovation initiatives. The Design Sprint School team and approach have been instrumental in helping us create the environment and the internal capacity to run our Service Design Sprints for internal Ventures and for running Co-innovation at our Cisco Innovation Centers around the world”
Another important criterion is the expertise of the trainers, both into the subject as well as in training and facilitating teams and individuals. As mentioned before, some providers have build experience by applying the framework themselves, while building digital products. Others have a background as trainers (for example in Agile, Scrum or Design Thinking) and added Design Sprint training to their curriculum.
Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist, Frederik Pferdt, and IDEO CEO Tim Brown recently came together for our Creative Confidence series to discuss how they foster creativity within their organizations. They touched on themes from Tim’s Leading for Creativity course, which Frederik recently completed, and the importance of inclusion, psychological safety on teams, and empowering people with confidence in their creativity and the courage to act on their ideas.
Braden Kowitz added story-centered design, an approach that focuses on the user instead of features or technologies. Michael Margolis took customer research—which can typically take weeks to plan and often delivers confusing results—and figured out a way to get crystal clear results in just one day. John Zeratsky brought a focus on measuring results with the key metrics from each business. And Daniel Burka brought firsthand expertise as an entrepreneur to ensure every step made sense for startups.
One of the best ways to gain insights in a Design Thinking process is to carry out some form of prototyping. This method involves producing an early, inexpensive, and scaled down version of the product in order to reveal any problems with the current design. Prototyping offers designers the opportunity to bring their ideas to life, test the prac...

Design Sprints were once thought to be the exclusive province of startups and small organizations, but that is simply not the case. To the contrary, we are seeing massive organizations, public enterprises and government agencies rack up successes using this time-boxed method to overcome design and product roadblocks. Many of their stories are captured in the new book Enterprise Design Sprintsby Richard Banfield.


Einstein was certainly right — we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. In addition, with the rapid changes in society, the methods we have previously used to solve many of the problems we face are no longer effective. We need to develop new ways of thinking in order to design better solutions, ser...
Use the Tabata training method of product design. Tabata training is a workout method that focuses on 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is a great metaphor for sprint prototyping: It’s intense, and that means that rest is just as important as the creative bursts. Make a point of managing team energy by having intentional down days. With Swell, we made sure to keep our energy up by working in cafes, getting breather spaces when we needed to focus, and even hitting up museums or exercise classes to stay healthy and inspired.
While we assume you’re familiar with the original Design Sprint, here’s a quick recap: the Design Sprint is a five-day process to solve big problems and test ideas. A dedicated team discusses a challenge, designs potential solutions, and tests them with real users. You start with something vague, and finish with real feedback and something extremely tangible in just five days.
To help you understand Design Thinking, we have broken the process into five phases or modes, which are: 1. Empathise, 2. Define, 3. Ideate, 4. Prototype, and 5. Test. What’s special about Design Thinking is that designers’ work processes can help us systematically extract, teach, learn, and apply these human-centered techniques to solve problems in a creative and innovative way – in our designs, in our businesses, in our nations (and eventually, if things go really well, beyond), in our lives. Nevertheless, a great artist like Auguste Rodin, who created this famous sculpture called “The Thinker” and originally “Le Penseur”, would most likely have used the very same innovative processes in his artwork. In the same way, all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering and business have practiced it and still practice it.
The ‘Innovation of Products and Services: MIT’S Approach to Design Thinking’ course teaches participants to understand the design thinking process; identify and assess customer opportunities; generate and evaluate new product and service concepts; design services and customer experiences; design for environmental sustainability; and evaluate product development economics. A team-based concept development project assignment, focused on opportunity evaluation and concept development, is integrated into all course modules. The course consists of discussions, case studies, a capstone project, real world applications and 62 interactive lectures.

We can connect you to organizations who can run a full 5 day design sprint with you. We can also train you and introduce you to the key activities of the design sprint in our training workshops so you can get started on your own. We can also focus on shorter approaches to generating and developing ideas for and with your customers using the philosophy behind design sprints as well as design thinking, lean startup, agile, scrum, and the front end of innovation.
Some designers have argued Google Glass is actually an exemplar of design thinking. The project was a grand experiment that incorporated creative risks and unconventional thinking—and a failure that is possibly more revealing than success would have been. Design thinking is simply manifested differently at a massive company like Google than it is in a classroom or studio, said Daniel Rose, an officer at a design-oriented consulting firm, in a LinkedIn discussion.
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