With more than 500 new apps entering the market every day, what does it take to build a successful digital product? You can greatly reduce your risk of failure with design sprints, a process that enables your team to prototype and test a digital product idea within a week. This practical guide shows you exactly what a design sprint involves and how you can incorporate the process into your organization.
Before consumers even had the opportunity to purchase the digital eyewear, Google announced in January it would pull Google Glass off the market. The company isn’t completely shattering Glass, but rather it’s putting an end to the “Explorer” program, which allowed curious developers to try out the product for $1,500. Google insists this is hardly the company’s last foray into wearable technology, but the original Glass has fielded overwhelming criticism since it was launched to the elite crowd in 2012.

Going way back, the term charrette was used to describe any collaborative workshop session among designers, and design-thinking frameworks from Stanford’s d.school emerged as a way to apply more structure to this concept. Industrial product design firms like IDEO developed short-cycle design sessions called deep dives, which built on the design charrette concept popularized by Stanford’s d.school.

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.
You might use a design sprint to initiate a change in process or start the innovation of a product concept. This works well when you’re exploring opportunities with the goal of coming up with original concepts that ultimately will be tested in the real world — for example, if we need to understand how young parents would buy healthcare products online.
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.
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.
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.
So far, since the launch of the course in May 2016, 115 professionals from 12 countries and diverse industries ranging from marketing to manufacturing and consulting to software development, have opted for this course. Notably, the course has seen a whopping 89% completion rate, contrary to popular observations that online courses see dwindling participation after the first few classes.
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.
Use the Tabata training method of product design. Tabata training is a workout method that focuses on 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is a great metaphor for sprint prototyping: It’s intense, and that means that rest is just as important as the creative bursts. Make a point of managing team energy by having intentional down days. With Swell, we made sure to keep our energy up by working in cafes, getting breather spaces when we needed to focus, and even hitting up museums or exercise classes to stay healthy and inspired.
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.

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.

“Sprints begin with a big challenge, an excellent team — and not much else. By Friday of your sprint week, you’ve created promising solutions, chosen the best, and built a realistic prototype. That alone would make for an impressively productive week. But Friday, you’ll take it one step further as you interview customers and learn by watching them react to your prototype. This test makes the entire sprint worthwhile: At the end of the day you’ll know how far you have to go, and you’ll know just what to do next.”
Before consumers even had the opportunity to purchase the digital eyewear, Google announced in January it would pull Google Glass off the market. The company isn’t completely shattering Glass, but rather it’s putting an end to the “Explorer” program, which allowed curious developers to try out the product for $1,500. Google insists this is hardly the company’s last foray into wearable technology, but the original Glass has fielded overwhelming criticism since it was launched to the elite crowd in 2012. Glass’s (at least temporary) demise is a cautionary tale for technologists. In another light, it’s a ringing endorsement of design thinking.
If I learned anything from Pixar in the last decade, it’s that life is complicated and often requires a balance of joy and sadness to make it through the tougher times (Inside Out, you get me). Whether you’re in the writing/design field, or someone who deals with customers on an ongoing basis, the key to creating memorable experiences starts with… Read More →
Yes! Our goal is to provide you with all the knowledge, information and the toolkit you need to confidently facilitate a successful Sprint. Everything included in this course are what we wish we had known before we started doing Sprints, and also stuff we’ve built up over time and loads of real-life experience doing Sprints with a range of different companies. Something you feel like you’re missing at the end? Just tell us and we’ll make it happen!

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.
What I Find Noteworthy:  They have a certification program and a mentor program. If you pass their Sprint Master certification exam, you can serve as a mentor to other students in future classes, and join their online community of Sprint Masters. Students learn not one, but two different approaches to design sprints (Jake Knapp’s sprint model and Tenny Pinheiro’s MVS service start-up model).
“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.”
The First principle incorporated in regular science is the "Design Thinking Cycle", which is new to the method. The cycle starts with you, envisioning the lives, dreams and anxieties of your customers. Then you define the problem you want to solve. After that you try to figure out as many solutions to that problem as you can imagine. Then you choose the most likely solution to be successful, you make a prototype of that solution and test its acceptance with your customers. Only after you have found a successful solution, you will invest in executing your business.
“Design thinking begins with skills designers have learned over many decades in their quest to match human needs with available technical resources within the practical constraints of business. By integrating what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable, designers have been able to create the products we enjoy today. Design thinking takes the next step, which is to put these tools into the hands of people who may have never thought of themselves as designers and apply them to a vastly greater range of problems.”

For our first dispatch of 2019, we’ve assembled enough Google Design goodies to put a spring in your step. Our roundup includes a big story on Waymo—exploring how the company’s designers built a brand new UX playbook to foster user trust; an artful interview with technologist John Maeda on agile leadership; and deep insights from UX Director Margaret Lee, who penned an essay on how her immigrant upbringing shaped her take on leadership. We also compiled a fresh selection of “5 Things to Love Right Now”—curated by San Francisco-based designer Shannon May. Dig in for a new bloom of insights and inspiration.Subscribe to the Google Design Newsletter

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