The outcome of a Design Sprint is not an end result, but rather a starting point. The goal of a Design Sprint is not to end up with a perfect solution after just one week, but to get feedback on one or two possible solutions. What we usually see is that the direction is so big (because your problem is big), you need to further split your solutions into chewable chucks to for prioritization and phasing. So don’t focus too much on building exactly what you come up with in the Sprint, the result of a successful Design Sprint is better understanding of the problem, better alignment within the team and feedback on potential solutions you can further research and design on.
A great morning spent @Google London, focussing on ‘Design Sprints for Change’. 400 applications for the event, 100 in the room – it is a movement. It was fascinating to see how other big and small businesses are employing the same approach as RGAX to help their business grow by helping others. It was also nice to reconnect with John Vetan and Dana Vetan @designsprintacademy who showed us the way to identify real problems worth solving and create solutions you can test – all in 5 days!

Philippe Antoine did an enticing job presenting the Design Sprint methodology on Google booth at Vivatech last June. What is Google Design Sprint approach? It’s a five days framework, combining Design Thinking with Lean Startup, to move from a customer problem to a range of creative ideas, and a tested prototype. In other words, it helps answer critical business questions through rapid prototyping, and user testing.

Jake Knapp describes Design Sprints as a greatest hits of productivity, decision making, innovation, creativity, and design — and I think that’s true. But I recently took part in a sprint which modified this “greatest hits” formula heavily. My gut feeling was that these modifications were not beneficial, but since I was unfortunately not in a position to change the process, I chose to view it as an opportunity to gather data, and do a comparative analysis between this sprint, and the GV process outlined in the book — to learn, and to be more prepared for the next time around.


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.


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.
“For most organizations, doing some prototypes and a small beta test would be a good example of Design Thinking, but for a company with the heft of Google, they can absolutely afford to ‘launch’ something and see how it does without putting themselves at risk,” Rose wrote. “The amount of info that they learned from developing and launching it was incredible.”
Working together in a sprint, you can shortcut the endless-debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week. Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, you’ll get clear data from a realistic prototype. The sprint gives you a superpower: You can fast-forward into the future to see your finished product and customer reactions, before making any expensive commitments.
Access to all the course videos, that not only describe the process in a great deal of detail, but also the mindset and very concrete tactics that you can put to work immediately. You also get access to all the bonus materials, including the Design Sprint cheatsheet, the preparation checklist, and facilitators toolkit, and lifetime access to the AJ&Smart Design Sprint community. As a student on the course you'll get lifetime access to all course improvements (we’re a big believer of continuous improvements, and you’ll get to benefit from this!)
We’ve designed the materials so that you won’t need one. We make everything as detailed and descriptive as possible so that you don’t need to ask a Mentor questions and wait for their answer, something that we feel breaks up the flow and could delay your progress. With this said, if you come up against questions or problems as you go through the course then we’ll always give you multiple ways to reach out to us to help, and we’ll happily do so 🙂
The course on Udacity is a great entry-level course as an introduction, however it doesn’t get into as many of the focused details as this one – it also hasn’t been updated since we started doing the more updated version of the Sprint (the one we worked on Jake Knapp with). The Udacity course also doesn’t give you access to the toolkit, like the slides we use, the checklist etc.

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;


What I Find Noteworthy:  Well-known MOOC provider partnering with one of the world’s most respected design sprint firms, to deliver a crash course on design sprints. I’ve strongly considered taking this class as I already enjoy watching AJ&Smart’s videos on YouTube. In addition to providing a good baseline knowledge of design sprints, the class seems like a great way to get in some “practice reps” before attempting to facilitate an actual sprint.
“This year, we choose to show how design enables us to create a common future beyond all the differences, whether it’s for products, services, or public policy choices.” — Gaël Perdriau, Mayor of Saint-ÉtienneThe Saint-Étienne Design Biennale opens today in central France. Over the next month, the city will host a variety of exhibitions, events, and conferences that address salient topics in the design, art, and research community. As part of this year’s Biennale, the Material Design team collaborated with tech guru John Maeda to present the interactive exhibition Design in Tech. Opening this week at Cité du Design—and running until April 22—attendees can get hands-on with Material Design’s approach to color, typography, icons, and elevation, and explore key insights from Maeda’s 2019 Design in Tech Report. We hope to see you there! And for those that can’t make it, we’ve got an interview with Maeda and Material Design’s Rachel Been on the symbiotic (and evolving) relationship between design and development.Read “A New Religion for Designers”
“By Wednesday morning, you and your team will have a stack of solutions. That’s great, but it’s also a problem. You can’t prototype and test them all — you need one solid plan. In the morning, you’ll critique each solution, and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take the winning scenes from your sketches and weave them into a storyboard: a step-by-step plan for your prototype.”

Jonathan is the Co-Founder of AJ&Smart and is a Product Designer working between Berlin and San Francisco. His passion is helping companies work better together and empowering individuals to make real change in their organisation. He’s worked with everyone from General Electric, to LEGO, and Airbnb. Fun fact: Jonathan co-hosts a podcast with Jake Knapp, check it out here. 
Tip: Limit the number of variables in your prototype, so you receive specific feedback on your big question. Designing a digital product? Start by designing landing pages that express each product offering, rather than the entire user flow. Testing two feature sets? Keep the branding the same and test different product features against one another.
“For most organizations, doing some prototypes and a small beta test would be a good example of Design Thinking, but for a company with the heft of Google, they can absolutely afford to ‘launch’ something and see how it does without putting themselves at risk,” Rose wrote. “The amount of info that they learned from developing and launching it was incredible.”
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...
The relevance of Design Thinking as research method for Business Design is based on two very important aspects of the method. First of all, Design Thinking introduces "Empathy" into the equation. Empathy is the ability of the entrepreneur to see things through the eyes of the customer. Secondly, Design Thinking introduces "Creativity" into the equation. It is not enough that you can analyse the problem, you should also be able to come up with a solution to that problem and actually test the acceptance by your customers of that solution.
To be successful at creating digital products you have to reduce the risk of failure but it's almost impossible to do that. Traditionally design leads have tried planning their way out of that conundrum. Only to find that no amount of planning can guarantee an outcome. In our lives we've been guilty of this too. Our grey hairs should stand testimony to the failure of waterfall and even Agile project management methodologies.
We spend 45 minutes (tops) creating a passable map, which is easy enough by this point. In the book it takes half a day, but when it’s all built up like this you can do it in 45 minutes. You do NOT need longer to create a map that’s good enough. The Decider then chooses a target area on the map—and voilà! That’s Monday done in half a day. Time for lunch and a BIG coffee…
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”. 

Some of the scientific activities will include analyzing how users interact with products and investigating the conditions in which they operate: researching user needs, pooling experience from previous projects, considering present and future conditions specific to the product, testing the parameters of the problem, and testing the practical application of alternative problem solutions. Unlike a solely scientific approach, where the majority of known qualities, characteristics, etc. of the problem are tested so as to arrive at a problem solution, Design Thinking investigations include ambiguous elements of the problem to reveal previously unknown parameters and uncover alternative strategies.

The outcome of a Design Sprint is not an end result, but rather a starting point. The goal of a Design Sprint is not to end up with a perfect solution after just one week, but to get feedback on one or two possible solutions. What we usually see is that the direction is so big (because your problem is big), you need to further split your solutions into chewable chucks to for prioritization and phasing. So don’t focus too much on building exactly what you come up with in the Sprint, the result of a successful Design Sprint is better understanding of the problem, better alignment within the team and feedback on potential solutions you can further research and design on.
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.

We wrap up Day 2 by setting the stage for what needs to happen after a design sprint. This is critical. One of the more popular misperceptions is that you’ll have your MVP at the conclusion of your design sprint — not true. You’ll have validation of a single, well-focused challenge within that solution, but there’s more that needs to happen to transition from design sprint to building those products & services.
Tip: Use the same currency exercise for all of your sprint prototypes, so that you can see how attitudes evolve with your design tweaks. For example, give each user $500 Monopoly dollars and see where they would invest their money. Designing a new shoe brand? Ask them which ones they’d buy, or if they’d prefer to spend the money on their tried-and-true Nikes. This exercise is about the conversation it provokes more than the payments themselves, so get curious!
This is Chapter 1 from “Design Sprint: A Practical Guidebook for Building Great Digital Products,” by Richard Banfield, C Todd Lombardo, and Trace Wax. Design Sprint was just recently named one of the 100 Best Product Design Books of All Time by The Book Authority (#8 for those who are counting!). NOTE: I have included links to additional, related Design Sprint resources within the post that are not part of the book chapter. These resources are denoted by a “- — -” divider.
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.

If your initial sprints fail, they may quickly fall out of favor with these influencers and leaders in the company. Truth is, no matter how much you prep, your first sprints will be rocky. However with options like the public workshops and customized in-house workshops, the really good news is that you don’t need to fall on your face to get started.
The outcome of a Design Sprint is not an end result, but rather a starting point. The goal of a Design Sprint is not to end up with a perfect solution after just one week, but to get feedback on one or two possible solutions. What we usually see is that the direction is so big (because your problem is big), you need to further split your solutions into chewable chucks to for prioritization and phasing. So don’t focus too much on building exactly what you come up with in the Sprint, the result of a successful Design Sprint is better understanding of the problem, better alignment within the team and feedback on potential solutions you can further research and design on.

With a solid foundation in science and rationality, Design Thinking seeks to generate a holistic and empathetic understanding of the problems that people face. Design thinking tries to empathize with human beings. That involves ambiguous or inherently subjective concepts such as emotions, needs, motivations, and drivers of behaviors. The nature of generating ideas and solutions in Design Thinking means this approach is typically more sensitive to and interested in the context in which users operate and the problems and obstacles they might face when interacting with a product. The creative element of Design Thinking is found in the methods used to generate problem solutions and insights into the practices, actions, and thoughts of real users.
Design Thinking revolves around a deep interest in developing an understanding of the people for whom we’re designing the products or services. It helps us observe and develop empathy with the target user. Design Thinking helps us in the process of questioning: questioning the problem, questioning the assumptions, and questioning the implications. Design Thinking is extremely useful in tackling problems that are ill-defined or unknown, by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing. Design Thinking also involves ongoing experimentation: sketching, prototyping, testing, and trying out concepts and ideas.
During the four-week boot camp, we present a balance of theory and practice aimed to build up your confidence and set you up to run (and sell) your own Design Sprints. Get ready to deep dive in one of our rich scenarios and design solutions using our unique canvas-to-canvas approach. This approach was designed to make your experience learning about Design Sprint a smooth sailing one. You can take as much time as you want to go through the Boot camp, usually students complete the course in two months. That being said, it is possible to finish the core-program in just one month. Here is a suggested breakdown structure for that.
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