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.
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.
is one of the pioneers of Design Sprint methodology in Europe. Based in Switzerland, he works with startups and big companies in the regions of Lausanne (EPFL), Geneva and France. Passionate about digital, he has more than 15 years of experience in agencies, crafting website and designing apps. He will accompany you throughout the process: from idea to prototype.

The course on Udacity is a great entry-level course as an introduction, however it doesn’t get into as many of the focused details as this one – it also hasn’t been updated since we started doing the more updated version of the Sprint (the one we worked on Jake Knapp with). The Udacity course also doesn’t give you access to the toolkit, like the slides we use, the checklist etc.
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.
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.
A design sprint can also be used to test a single feature or subcomponent of a product. This allows you to focus on a particular aspect of the design. For example, your team might need to know what improvements can be made to the onboarding process. Using the design sprint to discover the pros and cons of a new onboarding channel could give you granular insights into a high-return part of the product experience.

“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.”

Design Sprints started at Google to spark collaborative creativity, solve complex business problems and reduce the risk of failure when launching a new product to the market. Since the Sprint book came out in 2016, Design Sprints have become widely adopted globally by companies as a tool for innovation and problem-solving and one of the most hyped processes around.
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.

The Sprint facilitator’s job is to talk to all those people, gather information, refine the problem statement and make sure everyone is clear and onboard with the problem you are solving before entering the Sprint. After the pre-work, a better version of the previous problem statement might be “How can we create a digital solution to help small individual Delis in New York City to manage food waste and increase revenue.”

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.


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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other trainers are experienced consultants and trainers in the area of UX, Scrum, Agile and Lean, who stay market-oriented by adding Design Sprints to their curriculum. For example, the German Trendig offers Design Sprint courses next to certified Agile and software training. The UXER school (Spain) offers Design Sprint workshops next to other user-centered and Design Thinking courses, just as UX-republic (France). The trainers behind Lǿpe (Norway) are experienced workshop facilitators and then decided to focus on Design Sprints only.
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.
About 20% of people currently enrolled in our Design Sprint Masterclass have managed to get their company to pay for it, but so far everyone we’ve spoken to has said that regardless of whether they paid themselves or not, they feel like the investment will be totally worth it and that they’ll make the money back from the benefits of taking the course anyway (professional development, promotions, new client offerings, etc.)
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.
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.
We spend 45 minutes (tops) creating a passable map, which is easy enough by this point. In the book it takes half a day, but when it’s all built up like this you can do it in 45 minutes. You do NOT need longer to create a map that’s good enough. The Decider then chooses a target area on the map—and voilà! That’s Monday done in half a day. Time for lunch and a BIG coffee…
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.
“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.”

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.
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. 

Using the three basic premises of Design Thinking – Immersion, Ideation and Prototyping – and leveraging the creation of a multidisciplinary environment, Design Sprint is emerging as new way for accelerated innovation, where speed and innovation go hand in hand. Design Sprint is a smart track for fast experimentation: building on what Jeff Bezos claims -“If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you will double your ability to invent”-, Design Sprint mastering can bring a tremendous value to the company.
“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.”
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.

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.

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.
“This year, we choose to show how design enables us to create a common future beyond all the differences, whether it’s for products, services, or public policy choices.” — Gaël Perdriau, Mayor of Saint-ÉtienneThe Saint-Étienne Design Biennale opens today in central France. Over the next month, the city will host a variety of exhibitions, events, and conferences that address salient topics in the design, art, and research community. As part of this year’s Biennale, the Material Design team collaborated with tech guru John Maeda to present the interactive exhibition Design in Tech. Opening this week at Cité du Design—and running until April 22—attendees can get hands-on with Material Design’s approach to color, typography, icons, and elevation, and explore key insights from Maeda’s 2019 Design in Tech Report. We hope to see you there! And for those that can’t make it, we’ve got an interview with Maeda and Material Design’s Rachel Been on the symbiotic (and evolving) relationship between design and development.Read “A New Religion for Designers”
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