Sharing his perspective on the course, Tanut says, “I have always believed that the best way to learn is to learn with a group of people, because it helps to share and leverage each other’s ideas. Through interactions with instructors and course participants, this online design thinking course truly helped me understand real problems, brainstorm and ideate, and overcome traditional boundaries. The modules and assignments helped me to see things differently.”
Sprint facilitator is a hard job. Another advice to better facilitate is find a partner: to bounce off ideas, help facilitate and bridge the gap of knowledge. If you don’t personally work with the team who participants in the Sprint, then find a partner in the team who understand the problem space; If you are too familiar with the team or problem, then find a partner to help bring the team back to focus while rat holing, or simply do time management if you are uncomfortable doing so.
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.
You only need the full Sprint team for two days instead of five. Anyone who has ever dealt with senior stakeholders knows this is a major, major win. Clearing your calendar for five days is a massive sacrifice at any level, so getting the same Sprint results with committing just two days of time is huge when you’re trying to convince someone to authorize a Sprint.
IDEO’s most famous example is the Shopping Cart Concept, a deep dive that was featured on Nightline in 1999.² The team pushed back on age-old mythologies about how design gets done and brought a multidisciplinary team together to brainstorm, research, prototype, and obtain user feedback that went from idea to a working model in four days. By collapsing the time constraints, the designers were essentially holding a gun to their heads and forcing themselves to come up with better solutions in less time.
Tim Brown also emphasizes that Design Thinking techniques and strategies of design belong at every level of a business. Design thinking is not only for designers but also for creative employees, freelancers, and leaders who seek to infuse design thinking into every level of an organization, product or service in order to drive new alternatives for business and society.
The word sprint comes from the world of Agile, and it describes a short period of time, typically 1–4 weeks, set aside to accomplish a focused goal. The design sprint is no different. It uses the original concept of the sprint to describe a period of time dedicated to working on the necessary design thinking. This time-bounded paradigm is critical to the success of the design sprint. Timeboxing, as it’s sometimes called, is essential to driving the right types of behavior from the participants. In addition to speeding up the product design and development process, it also takes advantage of core parts of our human nature: energy economy and social collaboration.
This should be a no-brainer, but do NOT, under any circumstances start revising the foundation of the sprint, which was defined at the beginning of the process. In our case, assumptions, questions, goals and problems were literally revised on the last day of the sprint, rendering much of the process pointless, since everything in the sprint is built on top of this foundation. Mess with the foundation — and the whole house comes crashing down.
Here at IDEO, it’s not uncommon to see dog-eared copies of Jake Knapp’s Sprint, a book that outlines the five-day process that Google Ventures uses to solve tough design problems. The books are stacked on desks, passed from designer to designer, and referenced in research planning discussions. Why? Because the Sprint process pushes you to think outside of the box, even at a creative place like IDEO. It helps you shift away from following your gut instinct and opinions; instead, it encourages you to let users guide your decision making. And it pushes you to move fast.
This is a relatively new practice in the business world, and there are different definitions of what exactly constitutes ‘Design Thinking’. While some call it a ‘problem-solving protocol that helps you achieve big results by focusing on the solution’, others say it is a ‘core strategy that creates an organisational culture focused on solving problems for the end user.’ There are also those who talk about design thinking as a factor that can impact the greater good and change life for the better.