Your sprint began with a big challenge, an excellent team—and not much else. By Friday, you’ve created promising solutions, chosen the best, and built a realistic prototype. That alone would make for an impressively productive week. But 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.
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.
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Cons: They likely haven’t facilitated nearly as many design sprints or training workshops compared to the firms listed above. As a result, it’s quite possible that you get a lesser design sprint experience at a higher cost. If you are trying to get organizational buy-in for the design sprint process and your innovation/design firm doesn’t have the expertise to deliver a great experience, you may leave your organization with a bad impression of design sprints, making it much more difficult to secure leadership buy-in for future sprints.
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.
“The ‘Design Thinking’ label is not a myth. It is a description of the application of well-tried design process to new challenges and opportunities, used by people from both design and non-design backgrounds. I welcome the recognition of the term and hope that its use continues to expand and be more universally understood, so that eventually every leader knows how to use design and design thinking for innovation and better results.”
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.
During the first day, we’ll do a bunch of really fun exercises to help break the ice and build trust with the group of strangers you’ve literally just met. Without team chemistry, you will never get through a design sprint. So we try to model the same requirement in our training environment — bond with your team and then get to work solving problems together.
The primary cause of concern? Privacy. The camera feature caused discomfort among unwitting passersby who couldn’t tell whether they were being quietly photographed or filmed. “Glass is easy to ignore” for the person wearing it, but “Google’s challenge in making the device a successful consumer product will be convincing the people around you to ignore it as well,” wrote Simson Garfinkel in the MIT Technology Review. Other Explorers complained that Glass was no more useful than existing devices—only much more conspicuous. New tech gadgets are often praised for their sleekness and style, but Glass just looks like a pair of geeky spectacles, wrote Jake Swearingen in the Atlantic.

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.
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.
“Design Sprints proved to be a valuable tool for accelerating our early-stage, service-driven innovation initiatives. The Design Sprint School team and approach have been instrumental in helping us create the environment and the internal capacity to run our Service Design Sprints for internal Ventures and for running Co-innovation at our Cisco Innovation Centers around the world”
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.
In employing design thinking, you’re pulling together what’s desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It also allows those who aren't trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges. The process starts with taking action and understanding the right questions. It’s about embracing simple mindset shifts and tackling problems from a new direction.
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.