In an age of tight resources and constrained finances companies are more reluctant than ever to commit to big design projects without a thorough understanding of their chances of success. Google has developed a methodology to make the design process fast and still offer valuable insight. Forget minimum viable products and focus on prototypes and...

After you have a big and vague problem that your team decided to run a Sprint on, the next step is further defining the problem so that it’s concrete and manageable. Instead of a too vague statement like “How to reduce food waste in New York City”. You and the team need to do some pre-work to further define the problem — Who are the users? What’s your product focus/technology/strength? What are the constrains? Believe it or not, your team usually already know a lot about the problem. Someone in the organization probably already done some research or had some ideas. If your team has nothing, then look outside your organization, chances are that there is a competitor somewhere already doing something similar.


I also appreciate the approach that is agile in nature….hence the term sprint. A design sprint team is composed of about 5 people with specific roles (much like an agile SCRUM team in size with specific responsibilities to the team and project). A team can accomplish more than they think and having the structure of a time limit can help them to achieve. I also appreciate the focus on validating quickly and talking to real potential customers or users…and doing it very soon. Even with my background in qualitative research methods and qualitative data analysis, (and projects where I’ve interviewed over 100 people when starting a new product or service development challenge), it is very valuable and you can see themes and validation for your learning and decision making from interviewing just 5 people that represent your target persona or audience! Yes, many times you will learn the most important things to help you determine your innovation direction from the first 5 people you interview out of 100…so why not just do 5 and then iterate from there?
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.
In addition to the “What”, the “Who” is also key for a successful Sprint. It’s not only who participants in the Sprint that matters, but also who to inform before the Sprint, and who to involve after the Sprint. We saw some of the most amazing Sprint result goto waste because high level management did not know about the Sprint or did not agree on the initial problem it’s solving. The most successful Sprints are Sprints that has the right people throughout the whole process.
When these participants are asked what has been the tangible outcome of the course, there are some interesting responses, like that of Laetitia Hoquetis, a Sales and Account Manager at Bloomberg. She says, “What I learnt applies to almost every situation, product, service, whether it is innovation or not. It helps us ask the right questions and then take the next steps.” Another participant, Tanut Karnwai, a Team Lead at the Beumer Group,says, “I got to understand how innovation works and how I can capitalise on it.”
The result is that you often end up with more junior staff members in the room, with senior executives only included on Monday when the group speaks to experts. That isn’t a problem in theory, as long as the high-level stakeholders delegate decision making authority to those in the room. However, in my experience, this rarely happens. There is a tendency for the executives to introduce new variables late in the day, undermining the whole process.
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.
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.
After a career in user experience design and research at companies like Microsoft and Nuance, Trace then became a developer at Pivotal Labs, and is now a Managing Director at thoughtbot. He has facilitated numerous product design sprints, and is an author and maintainer of thoughtbot's design sprint methodology repository. He's brought Lean and Agile methodology to many large companies and small startups, helping teams to focus, prioritize, and become happy and productive.

You might use a design sprint to start a new cycle of updates, expanding on an existing concept or exploring new ways to use an existing product. For example, we worked with a marketing data company that realized the data it gathered might be useful to other market segments. Building a prototype gave the team the validation it needed and prompted a deeper investment into that product segment, which ultimately was rewarded with a significant increase in sales.
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.
In the end the design effort and research should lead to an "Fact Based or Evidence Based Business Design". The design can have many forms, ranging from a business plan to a company website, but we advise that the design should at least contain a substantiated Value Web, a substantiated Business Model Canvas and a substantiated Value Proposition Canvas.

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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…

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.
Our facilitators took active part in the sprint. This might have seemed like a good idea, but since they were also facilitating, they were in a position of authority, and ended up influencing many decisions which should have been in the hands of the sprint team. Facilitators are people just like the rest of us — they can also get attached to their ideas, suffer from biases. So don’t get actively involved if you are facilitating a sprint — stay neutral.
Are you a design professional working in the US? The 2019 Design Census needs your voice. Set aside 10 minutes to answer 38 questions and add your POV to the largest annual survey of the design industry. Created by Google and AIGA, the 2019 Design Census builds on previous findings to deliver a holistic picture of the design industry’s current state, and provide insight into the complex economic, social, and cultural factors shaping design practice. This year—to better reflect the changing field—there’s an added focus on design educators, agency designers, in-house designers, small business owners, and freelance workers.The survey opens today and closes May 1. The findings will be published on designcensus.org later this year and as always, all the data will be free to download and use for your own interpretations.Learn more and participate in the 2019 Design Census
Design Thinking is an iterative and non-linear process. This simply means that the design team continuously use their results to review, question and improve their initial assumptions, understandings and results. Results from the final stage of the initial work process inform our understanding of the problem, help us determine the parameters of the problem, enable us to redefine the problem, and, perhaps most importantly, provide us with new insights so we can see any alternative solutions that might not have been available with our previous level of understanding.

To make your Design Sprint more efficient, Google suggests a few preparation tips, like writing a Sprint brief, collecting User Research, assembling a cross-functional team, planning Lightning Talks, creating a Deck, finding the right Space, getting the Supplies, setting the stage, the ground rules for Sprinting, and choosing a good ice-breaker! Innovation fortune only favors the prepared mind.

Google could learn a lesson from REALM Charter School in Berkeley, California, where students put the principles of good design thinking into practice. Emily Pilloton, teacher and Studio H founder, wrote that design should be “an active response to a context . . . a social act that builds citizenship in the next generation.” Students in her program have built a school library, a farmers’ market, and an outdoor classroom. But before diving into the projects, they conduct ethnographic research to identify their community’s (or, in the case of the library and classroom, their own) needs.
As a Sprint facilitator, it is very easy to focus too much on the “How” while planning a Sprint: When is the date? What is the room situation? What are the activities and agenda for each day? Those are questions that are important but not critical. Before getting into the logistics, there are two important things to focus on to ensure the success of a Design Sprint.
Venugopal Murthi, Manager – User Experience, at Xoom Corporation, a PayPal Service, says he is glad that he decided to join the course, in spite of his busy work schedule. “I’ve had a great learning curve due to the course. Bob Halperin, the Academic Director, has done a great job in guiding me through the course and providing valuable feedback on assignments. The programme coordinator too was amazingly quick in responding to the queries that the team had.”
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.
We only had very limited time (a few 10-minute slots) for sketching out ideas, which led to little time for exploration. The ideas that resulted seemed to be “shallow” and uninteresting. This belittles the true power of sketching: it is a formational activity which supports emergence of new ideas, and elaboration of existing ones. Sketching is a language which shapes and adds to the ideas which are put down on paper — but it takes time to explore, and go past the obvious ideas.

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 third principle, which is also new to the method, is that of the "Innovation Space" model. Tim Brown believes that innovation can only work when the "Technology is Feasible", the "Business is Viable" and the "Value Proposition is Desirable". Especially the Desirable part is a new way of thinking and it connects to the "Empathy" aspect in the Design Thinking Cycle. I advise you to take a careful look at the "Innovation Space" model and see whether you understand all aspects of it.

In the Ideation stage, design thinkers spark off ideas — in the form of questions and solutions — through creative and curious activities such as Brainstorms and Worst Possible Idea. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best Ideation methods and guidelines that help facilitate successful Ideation sessions and encourage active part...
We added a new exercise here that makes the storyboarding process at least 27 times easier (give or take). It’s called User Test Flow and it’s a form of Note & Vote exercise. Everyone designs the barebones of their own storyboard and then we vote on the one or two that we end up prototyping. Even though it’s an extra step, it speeds up the storyboarding process by a million miles and eliminates the “designing by committee” aspect of it. Here’s a video that explains it in detail (and there’s a Medium post on it, too). https://res.cloudinary.com/practicaldev/image/fetch/s--Kjt27KoI--/c_fill,f_auto,fl_progressive,h_50,q_auto,w_50/https://thepracticaldev.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/user/profile_image/92605/70cd7f2f-e0f0-4603-922c-b1048cbd9a7e.jpg

We added a new exercise here that makes the storyboarding process at least 27 times easier (give or take). It’s called User Test Flow and it’s a form of Note & Vote exercise. Everyone designs the barebones of their own storyboard and then we vote on the one or two that we end up prototyping. Even though it’s an extra step, it speeds up the storyboarding process by a million miles and eliminates the “designing by committee” aspect of it. Here’s a video that explains it in detail (and there’s a Medium post on it, too). https://res.cloudinary.com/practicaldev/image/fetch/s--Kjt27KoI--/c_fill,f_auto,fl_progressive,h_50,q_auto,w_50/https://thepracticaldev.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/user/profile_image/92605/70cd7f2f-e0f0-4603-922c-b1048cbd9a7e.jpg

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.
But probably the most valuable benefit of design sprints is that they introduce stakeholders to the importance of validating ideas with real users. Google has orientated the whole week around building a prototype that users find easy to use. That is a valuable lesson for colleagues who can often be more focused on their own agenda, rather than that of the user.
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. https://www.tatvasoft.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/extreme_programming_methodology.jpg
An integral part of the Design Thinking process is the definition of a meaningful and actionable problem statement, which the design thinker will focus on solving. This is perhaps the most challenging part of the Design Thinking process, as the definition of a problem (also called a design challenge) will require you to synthesise your observati...

Design Sprints started at Google to spark collaborative creativity, solve complex business problems and reduce the risk of failure when launching a new product to the market. Since the Sprint book came out in 2016, Design Sprints have become widely adopted globally by companies as a tool for innovation and problem-solving and one of the most hyped processes around. 
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