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.
We have real-world experience from running successful Sprints for over 200 global companies. We also work very closely with Jake Knapp, the creator of the Design Sprint and author of Sprint. We are continually improving the process together with him, so you can be confident that with us you’re learning the most up-to-date (tried & tested!) version of The Design Sprint. Our complete focus with this course is to enable you to run your own Design Sprints confidently, and equip you with everything you need to make that happen, quickly.
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.
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.
On Wednesday, you and your team created a storyboard. On Thursday, you’ll adopt a “fake it” philosophy to turn that storyboard into a prototype. A realistic façade is all you need to test with customers, and here’s the best part: by focusing on the customer-facing surface of your product or service, you can finish your prototype in just one day. On Thursday, you’ll also make sure everything is ready for Friday’s test by confirming the schedule, reviewing the prototype, and writing an interview script.
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.
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.

“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.”
It takes four days instead of five. Why? Because we realized that there are countless little hacks you can do to make the process more efficient. We moved things around, changed up the order to make the flow more logical, and we also shortened a lot of the steps involved. Incredibly, we’ve also added stuff in, only to make the whole thing take less time. I know, this sounds confusing, but it’ll make sense if you keep reading…
Ah, Tuesday morning. A leisurely stroll around the gallery of concept sketches, coffee cup in hand, taking it all in. We spend the whole morning deciding what to prototype, starting with the Heat Map, where people place multiple votes on inspiring parts of sketches so that clusters can form. These clusters are then highlighted in the solution presentations, where the moderator walks the room through each individual sketch, followed by the straw poll (where everybody puts one vote on the one solution they want to push forward). The morning is rounded off with the Decider’s vote, where they pick one or two concepts that they want to prototype.
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.
In a world of hyper-specialization, C. Todd stands in the intersections and sees the connections that revolve around us. As an Innovation Architect at Constant Contact's InnoLoft, he facilitates product and service design sprints for a wide range of external startups and internal product teams. C. Todd is also a member of the adjunct faculty at Madrid's prestigious IE Business School where he teaches courses on Creativity, Innovation, Design-Thinking and Communication.

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.
You’re the product person in your organization. You may have no one reporting to you. You might have 50 people in your product group. You might be responsible for the entire product. Maybe the design team doesn’t report to you, nor do the developers or marketing and sales teams. 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.
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.
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. https://www.tatvasoft.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/extreme_programming_methodology.jpg
Richard Thaler, the Nobel Prize winning economist, talks about a mythical species that is real only to an economist. The Homo Economicus — he calls them Econ for short. An Econ is an extremely rational being and believes in maximizing utility with every decision they make. This is what a prototypical Econ looks and behaves like: I believe when we… Read More →
In these fun, fast-paced, hands-on events, Sprint authors Jake and JZ will rapidly lead you through all five stages of the Design Sprint process. Drawing on their 10 years of experience at Google and running more than 150 sprints with companies like Slack, Nest, 23andMe, and Blue Bottle Coffee, Jake and JZ will teach how and why the process works. You’ll experience a Design Sprint and build muscle memory for facilitating your own (whether it’s your first or 101st) and for incorporating these techniques into normal meetings. Private workshops for companies and organizations are also available.
Are you looking for a way to introduce your team or organization to design thinking or this approach of a design sprint? Contact Darin at [email protected] for a design sprint training workshop to help your team gain awareness and hands on experience with this powerful approach to solve customer problems and design new products, services, and programs. We can also refer you to others who can help you with either learning for the first time or conducting your own design sprint.
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.
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...
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