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.
Tim Brown also emphasizes that Design Thinking techniques and strategies of design belong at every level of a business. Design thinking is not only for designers but also for creative employees, freelancers, and leaders who seek to infuse design thinking into every level of an organization, product or service in order to drive new alternatives for business and society.
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.
Serial innovator, Nicolas Bryhas set up creative units for new business at Orange, Club-Internet, and SFR. He created crowd platform Imagine.Orange.com, Orange Studio for Intrapreneurs, and edits Open Innovation blog RapidInnovation.fr. He’s an international speaker, coach for entrepreneurs & startups, innovation teacher at Telecom ParisTech, HEC & CentraleSupélec, and freelance consultant (ECC). Follow him at @nicobry.
As new business concepts and trends emerge, it becomes imperative for professionals to stay up to date. For the moment, design thinking is one such discipline where the buzz is. Companies like Virgin, Toyota, and scores of others have been vocal about how they are able to innovate continuously due to the culture of design thinking. There’s no reason why you cannot join them.
By Wednesday morning, you and your team will have a stack of solutions. That’s great, but it’s also a problem. You can’t prototype and test them all—you need one solid plan. In the morning, you’ll critique each solution, and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take the winning scenes from your sketches and weave them into a storyboard: a step-by-step plan for your prototype.
“For most organizations, doing some prototypes and a small beta test would be a good example of Design Thinking, but for a company with the heft of Google, they can absolutely afford to ‘launch’ something and see how it does without putting themselves at risk,” Rose wrote. “The amount of info that they learned from developing and launching it was incredible.”
“If we as professionals are serious about growing our career, then we need to continually educate ourselves,” says Mark Jamieson, Founder, The Calm Revolution, who took an online course on ‘Innovation of Products and Services: MIT’S Approach to Design Thinking’ offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with The EMERITUS Institute of Management.
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.
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.
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.
This page is a DIY guide for running your own sprint. On Monday, you’ll map out the problem and pick an important place to focus. On Tuesday, you’ll sketch competing solutions on paper. On Wednesday, you’ll make difficult decisions and turn your ideas into a testable hypothesis. On Thursday, you’ll hammer out a high-fidelity prototype. And on Friday, you’ll test it with real live humans.

Today, the best companies in the world are using the revolutionary design sprint process to create, prototype, test, and release new products, as well as develop new strategies, enter new markets, and more. In this program, you'll learn exactly how and why the design sprint process is so effective, and why it's become so integral to the success of so many leading companies. To ensure you're learning from the best, we've partnered with international design firm AJ&Smart, who have pioneered a Version 2.0 of this influential process to design products for Lufthansa, Zalando, Red Bull, and more.

Enterprises that have well-established processes may also look to a design sprint as a way to accelerate their product design and development so that they can work more like a fast-moving startup. The accelerated learning can give the enterprise an advantage and also reduce the amount of resource investments for exploration of product ideas and concepts. Spending three to five days on a project idea to see if it makes sense to move forward is better than working three to five months, only to discover it would have been better to not have proceeded at all.
“…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."
At the heart of Design Thinking is the intention to improve products by analyzing and understanding how users interact with products and investigating the conditions in which they operate. At the heart of Design Thinking lies also the interest and ability to ask significant questions and challenging assumptions. One element of outside the box thinking is to falsify previous assumptions – i.e., to make it possible to prove whether they are valid or not. Once we have questioned and investigated the conditions of a problem, the solution-generation process will help us produce ideas that reflect the genuine constraints and facets of that particular problem. Design Thinking offers us a means of digging that bit deeper; it helps us to do the right kind of research and to prototype and test our products and services so as to uncover new ways of improving the product, service or design.
Prototype only what you need to validate your ideas in a very short time; hammer out a realistic prototype, a facade of the experience you have envisioned in the sketch phase. Design a barest minimum but usable prototype, taking advantage for instance of of Pop App, an app that transforms pictures of a story board into clickable UI; think of your prototype as an experiment in order to test out hypothesis;

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.”
It’s often difficult for us humans to challenge our assumptions and everyday knowledge, because we rely on building patterns of thinking in order to not have to learn everything from scratch every time. We rely on doing everyday processes more or less unconsciously — for example, when we get up in the morning, eat, walk, and read — but also when we assess challenges at work and in our private lives. In particular, experts and specialists rely on their solid thought patterns, and it can be very challenging and difficult for experts to start questioning their knowledge.
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.
Design Thinking is essentially a problem-solving approach specific to design, which involves assessing known aspects of a problem and identifying the more ambiguous or peripheral factors that contribute to the conditions of a problem. This contrasts with a more scientific approach where the concrete and known aspects are tested in order to arrive at a solution. Design Thinking is an iterative process in which knowledge is constantly being questioned and acquired so it can help us redefine a problem in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. Design Thinking is often referred to as ‘outside the box thinking’, as designers are attempting to develop new ways of thinking that do not abide by the dominant or more common problem-solving methods – just like artists do. At the heart of Design Thinking is the intention to improve products by analyzing how users interact with them and investigating the conditions in which they operate. Design Thinking offers us a means of digging that bit deeper to uncover ways of improving user experiences.
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.
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.

Sometimes issues come to light that need some clear changes in your product, and you can fix those things and plan additional research. For example, thoughtbot did a design sprint for Tile⁴ to optimize the team’s mobile app design to help users find keys with a device attached. After the sprint, we iterated based on what we learned and continued additional research sessions. In those following weeks, we found that making the device beep louder helped users find keys three times faster than anything else.
We wrap up Day 2 by setting the stage for what needs to happen after a design sprint. This is critical. One of the more popular misperceptions is that you’ll have your MVP at the conclusion of your design sprint — not true. You’ll have validation of a single, well-focused challenge within that solution, but there’s more that needs to happen to transition from design sprint to building those products & services.
Ideation is the process where you generate ideas and solutions through sessions such as Sketching, Prototyping, Brainstorming, Brainwriting, Worst Possible Idea, and a wealth of other ideation techniques. Ideation is also the third stage in the Design Thinking process. Although many people might have experienced a “brainstorming” session before,...
The word sprint comes from the world of Agile, and it describes a short period of time, typically 1–4 weeks, set aside to accomplish a focused goal. The design sprint is no different. It uses the original concept of the sprint to describe a period of time dedicated to working on the necessary design thinking. This time-bounded paradigm is critical to the success of the design sprint. Timeboxing, as it’s sometimes called, is essential to driving the right types of behavior from the participants. In addition to speeding up the product design and development process, it also takes advantage of core parts of our human nature: energy economy and social collaboration.

Jeff Grant is responsible for innovating the retail security experience for the world's top electronics retailers. He's designed satellite hardware for NASA, invented toy and game concepts at IDEO, and transformed the customer experience at Bank of America. Jeff works to inspire and synthesize the efforts of inventors, designers, marketers, engineers, researchers, builders, and storytellers.


Jake spent 10 years at Google and Google Ventures, where he created the Design Sprint process. He has since run it over 150 times with companies like Nest, Slack, 23andMe, and Airbnb. Today, teams around the world (including the British Museum and the United Nations) use Design Sprints to solve big problems and test new ideas. Previously, Jake helped build products like Gmail, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Encarta.
Tim Brown also emphasizes that Design Thinking techniques and strategies of design belong at every level of a business. Design thinking is not only for designers but also for creative employees, freelancers, and leaders who seek to infuse design thinking into every level of an organization, product or service in order to drive new alternatives for business and society.
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.

Design Thinking is a design methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown, by understanding the human needs involved, by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, by creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and by adopting a ha...
Tim Brown, CEO of the celebrated innovation and design firm IDEO, shows in his successful book Change by Design that Design Thinking is firmly based on generating a holistic and empathic understanding of the problems that people face, and that it involves ambiguous or inherently subjective concepts such as emotions, needs, motivations, and drivers of behaviors. This contrasts with a solely scientific approach, where there’s more of a distance in the process of understanding and testing the user’s needs and emotions — e.g., via quantitative research. Tim Brown sums up that Design Thinking is a third way: Design Thinking is essentially a problem-solving approach, crystalized in the field of design, which combines a holistic user-centered perspective with rational and analytical research with the goal of creating innovative solutions.
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. https://www.tatvasoft.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/joint_application_development_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...
Each design sprint will have its own needs and idiosyncrasies, and you’ll have to determine up front what’s best for your project. Any good design-thinking process might help identify the real problem in each of these cases. What makes the design sprint approach more effective is the structured, time-constrained framework, along with the appropriate exercises. This will force the team to make decisions and validate ideas faster than most methodologies.
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).
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. 

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.
“When we heard about Wily's Two-Day Design Sprint Bootcamp, it was a no-brainer for us to sign up a team from Duke Energy's Idea Lab. We’ve been using Design Sprints at our company for almost 2 years now, and we’re excited to get some fresh perspective and new ideas from Jake Knapp, Jeff Grant, Wily's seasoned experts, and the other bootcamp participants. We're also big fans of Jake—it's a big deal to have him in Charlotte and hope others will take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity."
With the skills you will learn you will be able to modify and create new Design Sprint agendas and flows that fits your needs. Often Sprint Masters need to adapt according to their needs and resources. This means making changes in the original process flow depicted in the original books or ever-changing modifications of it like Design Sprint 2.0. These hard-coded Sprint agendas need constant adjustments to perform in specific scenarios and with specific resources.

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.
To help you understand Design Thinking, we have broken the process into five phases or modes, which are: 1. Empathise, 2. Define, 3. Ideate, 4. Prototype, and 5. Test. What’s special about Design Thinking is that designers’ work processes can help us systematically extract, teach, learn, and apply these human-centered techniques to solve problems in a creative and innovative way – in our designs, in our businesses, in our nations (and eventually, if things go really well, beyond), in our lives. Nevertheless, a great artist like Auguste Rodin, who created this famous sculpture called “The Thinker” and originally “Le Penseur”, would most likely have used the very same innovative processes in his artwork. In the same way, all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering and business have practiced it and still practice it.
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.
While we assume you’re familiar with the original Design Sprint, here’s a quick recap: the Design Sprint is a five-day process to solve big problems and test ideas. A dedicated team discusses a challenge, designs potential solutions, and tests them with real users. You start with something vague, and finish with real feedback and something extremely tangible in just five days.
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