“On Monday, you and your team defined the challenge and chose a target. On Tuesday, you’ll come up with 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. Later in the week, the best of these sketches will form the plan for your prototype and test.”
Design sprints can help prevent you from building the wrong thing even when your customers say it’s the right thing. Larissa Levine, from the Advisory Board Company, believes that a design sprint is successful if it guides you toward building the right product feature. As she explains, “Product marketing wants to sell this one feature and says, ‘let’s build XYZ because we heard that the user said they wanted XYZ,’ when actually, that’s not the problem at all. They think they want XYZ, but it’s not it at all. So you end up building the wrong thing.”
With a small team and a clear schedule for the week, you’ll rapidly progress from problem to tested solution. On Monday, you create a map of the problem. On Tuesday, each individual sketches solutions. Then, on Wednesday, you decide which sketches are the strongest. On Thursday, you build a realistic prototype. And finally, on Friday, you test that prototype with five target customers.
It takes four days instead of five. Why? Because we realized that there are countless little hacks you can do to make the process more efficient. We moved things around, changed up the order to make the flow more logical, and we also shortened a lot of the steps involved. Incredibly, we’ve also added stuff in, only to make the whole thing take less time. I know, this sounds confusing, but it’ll make sense if you keep reading…
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.
It is a long time now that Design Sprints were used only by young, tech startups. The acclaimed success of the framework also triggered the interest of professionals in established companies, who search for tools to bring innovation into their companies. Whereas many successful startups adopted the Design Sprints from the start, established companies need to make a switch in working processes and habits, to implement and benefit from the framework. Setting the prerequisites and further implementation, therefore, became another focus area for some trainers and consultants. Trainers now target a variety of professionals, from startup founders to designers, from UX leads to developers, from marketers to innovation managers in multinationals. Most of the trainers combine public workshops with in-house training and facilitation.
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.
IDEO typically uses lots of different research techniques to generate insights around the needs of people including, but not limited to, observation, interviewing, immersive empathy, and exploring extreme users. Generally, the types of research you can do fall into three buckets. Generative research helps identify new opportunities and explore needs. Evaluative research gathers feedback on experiments and helps you iterate forward. These two types of research are focused on the future and new ideas. Traditional market research is known as validating research—intended to understand what is currently happening. Balance your research approach to focus on what’s happening now and what could be in the future.
We don’t have ‘formal’ exercises that you need to complete and submit. We’re big believers in not breaking up your learning flow, and we know these exercises often provide barriers where you need to submit something and wait for a response before you progress – this isn’t what this course is about. You’ll be able to move through at your own pace and learn in a style that’s comfortable to you – we’ll also make sure you have everything you need so that you don’t need to complete arbitrary exercises just to say you’ve done them.
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”.
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. 
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.
Design for a light-touch, full-product experience. Ask yourself: What’s the smallest set of features you can design that will still solve users’ problems? Start with the simplest version of your product, get user feedback, and then add features. As your sprint loops continue, you can move from simple prototypes to robust product directions. With Swell, we focused on creating a hero page for each key interaction (landing page, sign up, and invest). This meant we were testing the functionality of the full product experience, just in a light-touch way.
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.
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.
We don’t have ‘formal’ exercises that you need to complete and submit. We’re big believers in not breaking up your learning flow, and we know these exercises often provide barriers where you need to submit something and wait for a response before you progress – this isn’t what this course is about. You’ll be able to move through at your own pace and learn in a style that’s comfortable to you – we’ll also make sure you have everything you need so that you don’t need to complete arbitrary exercises just to say you’ve done them.
‘How do people actually use our product?’ is a fundamental question that every product creator must answer. In order to answer this question, product designers need to understand the essence of the whole experience from the user’s perspective. User journey mapping is an excellent exercise that can shed light on that. What is a user journey map? User journey map is… Read More →
Couldn’t have said it better than the big man himself. As Tim says, Design Thinking is an approach to innovation that draws from a toolkit. This toolkit is vast and full of numerous exercises that can be pulled out at different points in the design process. Learning about Design Thinking is learning the philosophy and mindset of innovation along with the tools you could use to make your way there. Here’s everything you really need to know about Design Thinking.
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.

The second principle is that of the well known "Short Cycled PDCA". For every action you take, use assumptions to you state the desired output of that action, the path you want to follow (process) and the required input of that action in time, money and other resources. Than you take that action, after which you reflect of the actual input, output and process. Were our assumptions right? Are the results as expected? Can the results be improved? Was the process effective? In short: Learn, adjust, plan again, do again and check again. These cycles can vary from a day to a week each. Do not plan to far ahead, because the assumptions and insights on which your planning is based will probably change several times. 
Thanks to timeboxing, the Design Sprint takes a process that can sometimes drag on for months, and condenses it into just 5 days. The client is actively involved in the first days of the sprint (workshops). Day 4 is devoted to Prototyping and can be performed remotely. On day 5 we will invite users to test our prototype and take advantage of their feedback to assess the potential of your product.
By the time you complete our course you’ll have everything you need to successfully run your own Design Sprint, so we’d very much encourage you to do so! You’ll also have lifetime access to all the materials to reflect back on and use however you wish afterwords. We’d also encourage you to keep in touch with us and let us know if there’s something we can do to help you with your future Sprints!

A tool IDEO uses to measure creativity both internally and with clients is called Creative Difference. Hundreds of companies have now used the Creative Difference assessment, and as a result, we have a deeper understanding of what makes an organization more creatively competitive. For example, we’ve learned that organizations that test multiple (3-5) ideas in parallel and select 2-3 options to iterate further lead to teams achieving 50% higher rates of success. 
The Sprint method allowed the team to start prototyping quickly, collect immediate user feedback, and make small mistakes early. We conducted multiple design sprints in quick loops—folding the learning from week one into the structure of week two, and so on. We learned a lot in the process. Here are a few quick tips we picked up for running successful and energizing design sprints.

In addition to encouraging curiosity and asking more questions, one tactic we use at IDEO to help companies evolve their culture to be more creative is what we call beacon projects—projects designed for teams to be able to break the norms of the organization. The role of these beacon projects is to challenge tightly held assumptions and processes and illustrate that new behavior is necessary to innovate. When teams or companies are deep in their industry, seeing and experiencing change will often increase their awareness to opportunities.


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.
By the time you complete our course you’ll have everything you need to successfully run your own Design Sprint, so we’d very much encourage you to do so! You’ll also have lifetime access to all the materials to reflect back on and use however you wish afterwords. We’d also encourage you to keep in touch with us and let us know if there’s something we can do to help you with your future Sprints!
“…the more I pondered the nature of design and reflected on my recent encounters with engineers, business people and others who blindly solved the problems they thought they were facing without question or further study, I realized that these people could benefit from a good dose of design thinking. Designers have developed a number of techniques to avoid being captured by too facile a solution. They take the original problem as a suggestion, not as a final statement, then think broadly about what the real issues underlying this problem statement might really be (for example by using the "Five Whys" approach to get at root causes). Most important of all, is that the process is iterative and expansive. Designers resist the temptation to jump immediately to a solution to the stated problem. Instead, they first spend time determining what the basic, fundamental (root) issue is that needs to be addressed. They don't try to search for a solution until they have determined the real problem, and even then, instead of solving that problem, they stop to consider a wide range of potential solutions. Only then will they finally converge upon their proposal. This process is called "Design Thinking."
Monday’s structured discussions create a path for the sprint week. In the morning, you’ll start at the end and agree to a long-term goal. Next, you’ll make a map of the challenge. In the afternoon, you’ll ask the experts at your company to share what they know. Finally, you’ll pick a target: an ambitious but manageable piece of the problem that you can solve in one week.
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