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...
A design sprint reduces the risk of downstream mistakes and generates vision-led goals the team can use to measure its success. For the purposes of this book, we’ll focus on digital products, as our direct experience lies in that arena, though the design sprint has roots in gaming and architecture,¹and many industries have employed them successfully.
After a full day of understanding the problem and choosing a target for your sprint, on Tuesday, you get to focus on solutions. The day starts with inspiration: a review of existing ideas to remix and improve. Then, in the afternoon, each person will sketch, following a four-step process that emphasizes critical thinking over artistry. You’ll also begin planning Friday’s customer test by recruiting customers that fit your target profile.
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!
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.
Why did we tell you this story? Telling stories can help us inspire opportunities, ideas and solutions. Stories are framed around real people and their lives. Stories are important because they are accounts of specific events, not general statements. They provide us with concrete details that help us imagine solutions to particular problems. While we’re at it, please watch this 1-minute video to help you get started understanding what Design Thinking is about.
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.
Startups are notoriously fast-moving environments that value speed to market over almost everything else. This commitment to speed gives them an advantage but also risks leaving out a lot of the essential thinking and testing required to build a truly useful product. Too many products go to market without customer validation. How do you maintain the speed while including the necessary research and design thinking? Many startups in the Constant Contact InnoLoft Program cite a design sprint as one of the most valuable parts of their participation.