In theory you probably could, and we’ve always been advocates for making the Design Sprint as open as possible, and our aim is to get as many people as possible using it (as long as they do it properly!) however to get all the information in a structured way, and all the toolkit and materials for free, would be really hard and would take hours of piecing bits of information together. Also, most of the information that’s readily available is on the internet (including our own) speaks to a total beginner audience, whereas the material in our course, while suitable for beginners, will give you a deep-dive into the Sprint and all the process and materials around it. The toolkit we provide as part of the course is the actual ‘live’ stuff we’re currently using with our Sprint clients, and we’ve never made it readily available, and to our knowledge, there isn’t anyone else putting this stuff out there.
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.
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.
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.”
On Thursday, you'll build a realistic prototype of the solutions in your storyboard so you can simulate a finished product for your customers. Design Sprint prototyping is all about a "fake it till you make it" philosophy: With a realistic-looking prototype, you'll get the best possible data from Friday's test, and you'll learn whether you're on the right track.
One of the best ways to gain insights in a Design Thinking process is to carry out some form of prototyping. This method involves producing an early, inexpensive, and scaled down version of the product in order to reveal any problems with the current design. Prototyping offers designers the opportunity to bring their ideas to life, test the prac...

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.
The product person: Maybe you're in a startup without all those defined roles and you wear a lot of hats. Maybe you're in a large enterprise organization that has each one defined to the nth degree. Maybe you are a product design freelancer. You might work in an agency as a consultant. You probably have read a blog post about this process. Maybe you even tried one yourself. You're very likely wondering how your unique needs will work with Design Sprints and are seeking more information than you can find in a few blog posts. If any of these descriptions sound familiar then this book was intended for you.
What I Find Noteworthy:  Well-known MOOC provider partnering with one of the world’s most respected design sprint firms, to deliver a crash course on design sprints. I’ve strongly considered taking this class as I already enjoy watching AJ&Smart’s videos on YouTube. In addition to providing a good baseline knowledge of design sprints, the class seems like a great way to get in some “practice reps” before attempting to facilitate an actual sprint.
These features are not just promises in well-designed marketing brochures or the website, but are part of the actual experience. According to Mark, the key highlights were the “course content, delivery, and quality participants.” He says, “The content, both from MIT Professor Steve Eppinger and approaches from IDEO were leading edge. Added to that, the course structure had a good mix of online learning, weekly group webinars and group assignments. Then again, the group itself was highly motivated and provided quality inputs. All this put together has helped me enhance my own offering.”
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.

Braden Kowitz added story-centered design, an unconventional approach that focuses on the customer journey instead of individual 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 helped us start at the end, and 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 in the real world.
To be successful at creating digital products you have to reduce the risk of failure but it's almost impossible to do that. Traditionally design leads have tried planning their way out of that conundrum. Only to find that no amount of planning can guarantee an outcome. In our lives we've been guilty of this too. Our grey hairs should stand testimony to the failure of waterfall and even Agile project management methodologies.
The other day I was contacted for advice on what someone could do who had to create a 120 hour innovation workshop. This was a challenge. Most innovation workshops I’ve helped people to develop are a half day to 3 days in length. With the exception of a 200 hour program over 4 weeks, the longest program I offer is the equivalent to a 3 credit university course…about 45 hours in length. A Design Sprint as a training workshop could be a great thing to integrate into a longer program or course, especially one where you have a full week available to the students. Students could learn many great design thinking and agile approaches to innovation through the activities of the specific days! As a bonus, they may create a real solution or innovation they can take ownership of.

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.


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. 
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.
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.

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.
As a Sprint facilitator, it is very easy to focus too much on the “How” while planning a Sprint: When is the date? What is the room situation? What are the activities and agenda for each day? Those are questions that are important but not critical. Before getting into the logistics, there are two important things to focus on to ensure the success of a Design Sprint.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
“Design thinking taps into capacities we all have but that are overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices. It is not only human-centered; it is deeply human in and of itself. Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols. Nobody wants to run a business based on feeling, intuition, and inspiration, but an overreliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as dangerous. The integrated approach at the core of the design process suggests a ‘third way.’ “
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.”
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.
Another important criterion is the expertise of the trainers, both into the subject as well as in training and facilitating teams and individuals. As mentioned before, some providers have build experience by applying the framework themselves, while building digital products. Others have a background as trainers (for example in Agile, Scrum or Design Thinking) and added Design Sprint training to their curriculum.
×