But the Design Sprint is not just about efficiency. It's also an excellent way to stop the old defaults of office work and replace them with a smarter, more respectful, and more effective way of solving problems that brings out the best contributions of everyone on the team—including the decision-maker—and helps you spend your time on work that really matters.

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.
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.

You can’t change what you can’t measure, right? One of the biggest questions we initially faced when implementing design sprints in our organizations was “How do you measure the success of a design sprint?” In our experience, it was often the absence of something that we were trying to measure. For example, how do you measure the amount of time you won’t spend on bad product development? How much money will you save by not investing in a product that will make less ROI? Those questions point toward future gains by not spending some difficult-to-calculate amount of time or money. How do you measure the absence of a failed product?

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.


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!
In the end the design effort and research should lead to an "Fact Based or Evidence Based Business Design". The design can have many forms, ranging from a business plan to a company website, but we advise that the design should at least contain a substantiated Value Web, a substantiated Business Model Canvas and a substantiated Value Proposition Canvas.
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.
Design Thinking is not an exclusive property of designers—all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering, and business have practiced it. So, why call it Design Thinking? 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 countries, in our lives.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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.
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).

Tim references the importance of subtle behavior shifts, especially from leaders. One recipe for unsuccessful teams is having unrealistic time constraints. Teams miss deadlines, take a long time to iterate, and leaders get impatient. The way to flip this is to find ways to get to fast iterations and fast learning. The notion of what is failure changes dramatically along the time axis. The antidote of not being allowed to fail is to learn faster. It doesn’t feel like a failure if you learn in a week. 
Lastly, a design sprint can stop you from building any product at all. Marc Guy, CEO of Faze1, also went through a design sprint at the InnoLoft. The sprint made him realize his company needed to stop building a product and instead go out and talk to customers. Mind blown, product invalidated! The business model has shifted significantly since then, as it subsequently focused on customer development. In fact, C. Todd didn’t see Marc or his team in the InnoLoft much after their design sprint. They were all out talking to customers, even their development team! The results were impressive and yielded an 8x increase in booked revenue over their previous year.

Learn fast, fail fast. The sprint helps to obtain a clear vision of the goals upfront. It forces you to make critical decisions and solve complex problems fast. This means that you and your team can save months of design, engineering and development costs. The bonus? You’ll be able to get your product to market faster because you focussed on the right thing.
For example, if your problem is “How to build a better newsletter for existing customers to increase brand loyalty”, you probably don’t need a Design Sprint since you already know the solution of better brand loyalty is a better newsletter. Just create a project and follow the normal product design process. You can still prototype and test with users, but it probably doesn’t require everyone to drop whatever they are working on for a week to figure out the design.

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.


After you have a big and vague problem that your team decided to run a Sprint on, the next step is further defining the problem so that it’s concrete and manageable. Instead of a too vague statement like “How to reduce food waste in New York City”. You and the team need to do some pre-work to further define the problem — Who are the users? What’s your product focus/technology/strength? What are the constrains? Believe it or not, your team usually already know a lot about the problem. Someone in the organization probably already done some research or had some ideas. If your team has nothing, then look outside your organization, chances are that there is a competitor somewhere already doing something similar.

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...


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.
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.
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.
GV invests in startups, and at times those startups require product design advice to align their teams. To help with this, GV would send a designer to work with each startup for one week’s time. As it turns out, these processes have five phases, one for each day of that week. The structure and time constraint proved useful. Lo and behold, the design sprint was born.
Design thinking is a socially conscious approach that demands tech savviness but also calls on the humanity of the designer. In the case of Google Glass, a simple, intuitive assessment of the cultural moment may have revealed the culprits of Glass’s eventual downfall. Students of all ages who are engaged in design thinking could have told us: It’s kind of creepy. It’s dorky. We have to wear a computer on our faces?
Why did we tell you this story? Telling stories can help us inspire opportunities, ideas and solutions. Stories are framed around real people and their lives. Stories are important because they are accounts of specific events, not general statements. They provide us with concrete details that help us imagine solutions to particular problems. While we’re at it, please watch this 1-minute video to help you get started understanding what Design Thinking is about.
In these fun, fast-paced, hands-on events, Sprint authors Jake and JZ 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 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. 

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.

The drawback of a design sprint is that it is a serious undertaking. Many organizations shy away from dedicating the energy of a team or even one individual for a full week straight. They tend to not take a focused approach and rather opt with weekly meetings, etc. A true design sprint will take a week! The good news is that you can involve another firm in helping you to run the sprint and many of these people will bring an outside perspective and experience with this sort of design thinking innovation approach.


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.
Sprint facilitator is a hard job. Another advice to better facilitate is find a partner: to bounce off ideas, help facilitate and bridge the gap of knowledge. If you don’t personally work with the team who participants in the Sprint, then find a partner in the team who understand the problem space; If you are too familiar with the team or problem, then find a partner to help bring the team back to focus while rat holing, or simply do time management if you are uncomfortable doing so.
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