Some of the world’s leading brands, such as Apple, Google, Samsung and GE, have rapidly adopted the Design Thinking approach, and Design Thinking is being taught at leading universities around the world, including d.school, Stanford, Harvard and MIT. But do you know what Design Thinking is? And why it’s so popular? Here, we’ll cut to the chase and tell you what it is and why it’s so in demand.
We ran a sprint over three days, with each day dedicated to a different “it”. This led to two issues. First, ideas spilled over from one day to the next. Ideas that had been discarded on day one, would be “frankensteined” alive again, on days two and three. People get attached to their ideas, and it showed! Second, there was a lack of clarity about the purpose of the sprint, which led to a lack of focus and slow momentum.
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.

Einstein was certainly right — we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. In addition, with the rapid changes in society, the methods we have previously used to solve many of the problems we face are no longer effective. We need to develop new ways of thinking in order to design better solutions, ser...


Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.

Our mentors are seasoned Sprint Masters with vast experience in running Design Sprints all around the globe. They are thought leaders and professionals coming from different backgrounds. They carry the Sprint Master Certification and are also certified by institutions like the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) and other renown User Experience educational groups worldwide.


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 

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.

The course is totally self-paced and you can move through the materials at a pace you’re comfortable with. It’s our aim to make you Design Sprint-facilitation-ready as quickly as possible and we don’t want to waste your time with pointless exercises and tasks that don’t contribute to you becoming a confident facilitator, so we estimate that you can complete the course and be ready to facilitate your first Sprint within 2 weekends, without stress.

In just one exciting and eye-opening day, Sprintmaster Stéphane Cruchon will take you and your team through this revolutionary way of working. You’ll come away from this specialized condensed training program confident in your ability to facilitate your own Sprints, recruit the ideal team, and have a clear vision about testing and prototyping tools.
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.
We only had very limited time (a few 10-minute slots) for sketching out ideas, which led to little time for exploration. The ideas that resulted seemed to be “shallow” and uninteresting. This belittles the true power of sketching: it is a formational activity which supports emergence of new ideas, and elaboration of existing ones. Sketching is a language which shapes and adds to the ideas which are put down on paper — but it takes time to explore, and go past the obvious ideas.
We can connect you to organizations who can run a full 5 day design sprint with you. We can also train you and introduce you to the key activities of the design sprint in our training workshops so you can get started on your own. We can also focus on shorter approaches to generating and developing ideas for and with your customers using the philosophy behind design sprints as well as design thinking, lean startup, agile, scrum, and the front end of innovation.
We can connect you to organizations who can run a full 5 day design sprint with you. We can also train you and introduce you to the key activities of the design sprint in our training workshops so you can get started on your own. We can also focus on shorter approaches to generating and developing ideas for and with your customers using the philosophy behind design sprints as well as design thinking, lean startup, agile, scrum, and the front end of innovation.
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.
In an age of tight resources and constrained finances companies are more reluctant than ever to commit to big design projects without a thorough understanding of their chances of success. Google has developed a methodology to make the design process fast and still offer valuable insight. Forget minimum viable products and focus on prototypes and...
Einstein was certainly right — we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. In addition, with the rapid changes in society, the methods we have previously used to solve many of the problems we face are no longer effective. We need to develop new ways of thinking in order to design better solutions, ser...
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.
Transforming concept into business: transforming the prototype into a business stream, is not only a question of  product industrialization, it’s also a matter of distribution channels, customer relationship, resources, partnerships, profitable model, all things that often require the engagement of parent business unit within the company. This transformation process where your innovative concept creates an opportunity for your partner business unit is a delicate scale-up to handle.
As the author for the program and lead mentor, Tenny is always present in the live edition to interact with students, challenge them, answer questions and coach the other mentors to make sure they do a great job in guiding our students through the Bootcamp experience. He is also in charge of the mentor reviewing process for the DIY program. Check his Bio below.
Test the prototype with real live humans, and validate. The team finally gets to see live users interact with their idea,s and hear direct feedback from the target audience. Everyone on the team observes the Validation sessions: watching your users try out the prototype is the best way to discover major issues with your design, which in turn lets you start iterating immediately. In addition, the team can organize a review to collect feedback from Technical Experts or Leadership Stakeholders.
Organizations can often take months to create a new product concept…and many times that product concept was not validated by customer need or designed for what is most important to the business and customers. A design sprint can significantly shorten that timeframe into an intense 5 day period that is very productive. Five full days for a team dedicated to a design sprint is still more than many organizations or professionals can allocate. Our design sprint training workshops will show you this approach and how you can have more of a design sprint mindset and be able to get started with key activities.
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.
Sketch solutions on paper: generate a broad range of ideas, and narrow down to a select group; team members are given time and space to brainstorm solutions on their own: they can look to comparable problems for inspiration, take note, boost idea generation, share and vote, and narrow down to one well defined idea per person, creating their own detailed Solution Sketch;
Use tricks that force users to make real—not hypothetical—decisions. The goal of any new product is to create something that people find valuable and are willing to pay for over other options in the market. But as designers, we know that often what consumers say they like is different from what they actually buy in the wild. One way we bridged this gap was by testing demand with potential Swell consumers: We gave them fake cash they could “invest” in one product or another. It was a great way to gauge whether the service had real value in the market.
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.
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. https://www.tatvasoft.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/dynamic_systems_development_model_methodology.jpg
Curious about what makes a successful, innovative team, Google led a two-year research project with 280 teams. They found only one distinction between innovative and non-innovative teams—psychological safety. A team that has psychological safety is a team where people feel safe trying new things, openly sharing ideas, and bringing their full selves to work.
“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.”
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.
The outcome of a Design Sprint is not an end result, but rather a starting point. The goal of a Design Sprint is not to end up with a perfect solution after just one week, but to get feedback on one or two possible solutions. What we usually see is that the direction is so big (because your problem is big), you need to further split your solutions into chewable chucks to for prioritization and phasing. So don’t focus too much on building exactly what you come up with in the Sprint, the result of a successful Design Sprint is better understanding of the problem, better alignment within the team and feedback on potential solutions you can further research and design on.
Curious about what makes a successful, innovative team, Google led a two-year research project with 280 teams. They found only one distinction between innovative and non-innovative teams—psychological safety. A team that has psychological safety is a team where people feel safe trying new things, openly sharing ideas, and bringing their full selves to work.
A great morning spent @Google London, focussing on ‘Design Sprints for Change’. 400 applications for the event, 100 in the room – it is a movement. It was fascinating to see how other big and small businesses are employing the same approach as RGAX to help their business grow by helping others. It was also nice to reconnect with John Vetan and Dana Vetan @designsprintacademy who showed us the way to identify real problems worth solving and create solutions you can test – all in 5 days! https://www.tatvasoft.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/agile_software_development_methodology.jpg

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.
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.”
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.
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 course materials take you through absolutely everything, start to finish, but if you’re already a Design Sprint facilitator then you probably won’t need to go through all the exercises, but things like the presentation slides, cheatsheet, and prototyping templates will probably be the most useful stuff, and maybe hearing some of our learnings throughout the videos will also help you avoid some common mistakes and learn some ‘hacks’
Tip: Use the same currency exercise for all of your sprint prototypes, so that you can see how attitudes evolve with your design tweaks. For example, give each user $500 Monopoly dollars and see where they would invest their money. Designing a new shoe brand? Ask them which ones they’d buy, or if they’d prefer to spend the money on their tried-and-true Nikes. This exercise is about the conversation it provokes more than the payments themselves, so get curious!
Sketch solutions on paper: generate a broad range of ideas, and narrow down to a select group; team members are given time and space to brainstorm solutions on their own: they can look to comparable problems for inspiration, take note, boost idea generation, share and vote, and narrow down to one well defined idea per person, creating their own detailed Solution Sketch;
The Design Sprint has been developed and popularised by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz, who together published the book ‘Sprint- How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days’ (2016). Designer Jake Knapp created the five-day process at Google. The methodology has been adopted by many Google Ventures and highly successful startups such as Uber, Blue Bottle Coffee, Slack, and Shopify.
In our case we had a 3rd party standing by to translate our sketches into finished layouts. And while this was convenient and easy for us, it is super important for people to get their hands dirty, and build whatever they’re going to test, for themselves! It teaches the importance of being specific and detailed, it shows how new issues emerge during such a process, and it provides first-hand experience of how easy it actually is to create a “just-real-enough-to-test” facade of an artefact.

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.


Once we have an understanding of the foundation we all need to run a successful design sprint, we kick off by working through the sprint’s Monday exercises — setting a proper long term goal based on our sprint challenge, determining our sprint questions, creating a map, interviewing experts, connecting our personas to the map, and selecting a target.
A lesson which is perhaps the most important one, especially if you are sprinting with people who are new to design thinking and design in general: be extremely mindful to explicitly state what sort of mindset one should adopt in a sprint. Specifically, outline what design is, and what wicked problems are. Provide a warm-up exercise such as the 30-circle challenge. Explain the importance of not falling in love with your ideas — that you should fall in love with the problem instead. You should fall in love with the “it” you are trying to figure out how to solve.
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.
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.
Have a group and want to save more? Groups always save with Coveros Training! Groups of 3–5 save 10% on Public and Live Virtual training, and groups of 6 or more save 20%. Group discounts are automatically applied when registering multiple attendees with the same initial path. For groups choosing a mix of classes, contact our Client Support Group at 929.777.8102 or email [email protected].
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.

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.

“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.”

A great morning spent @Google London, focussing on ‘Design Sprints for Change’. 400 applications for the event, 100 in the room – it is a movement. It was fascinating to see how other big and small businesses are employing the same approach as RGAX to help their business grow by helping others. It was also nice to reconnect with John Vetan and Dana Vetan @designsprintacademy who showed us the way to identify real problems worth solving and create solutions you can test – all in 5 days!
This is Chapter 1 from “Design Sprint: A Practical Guidebook for Building Great Digital Products,” by Richard Banfield, C Todd Lombardo, and Trace Wax. Design Sprint was just recently named one of the 100 Best Product Design Books of All Time by The Book Authority (#8 for those who are counting!). NOTE: I have included links to additional, related Design Sprint resources within the post that are not part of the book chapter. These resources are denoted by a “- — -” divider.
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