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.
Once everyone is BFFs, we introduce design sprints as a practice. We talk about how they fit into the bigger picture of business innovation, design thinking, and product development. We help attendees understand the work your team will need to do before the sprint, to ensure we’re connecting business value to the sprint, as well as choosing the right/best challenge.
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.
Tenny Pinheiro lives in Silicon Valley, CA. He pioneered Service Design Sprints by publishing in 2014 his book The Service Startup: Design Thinking gets Lean (2014 Elsevier/ Altabooks / Hayakawa). In the book, Tenny proposed the MVS model, a Service Design Sprint methodology based on the integration of Lean Startup and Service Design Thinking. The MVS was the first methodology to suggest an Agile Sprint approach to Design Thinking projects. The book was published two years before Google Ventures launched the book Sprint.
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.
During the first day, we’ll do a bunch of really fun exercises to help break the ice and build trust with the group of strangers you’ve literally just met. Without team chemistry, you will never get through a design sprint. So we try to model the same requirement in our training environment — bond with your team and then get to work solving problems together.
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.
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.
‘How do people actually use our product?’ is a fundamental question that every product creator must answer. In order to answer this question, product designers need to understand the essence of the whole experience from the user’s perspective. User journey mapping is an excellent exercise that can shed light on that. What is a user journey map? User journey map is… Read More ￫
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.”
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.
The First principle incorporated in regular science is the "Design Thinking Cycle", which is new to the method. The cycle starts with you, envisioning the lives, dreams and anxieties of your customers. Then you define the problem you want to solve. After that you try to figure out as many solutions to that problem as you can imagine. Then you choose the most likely solution to be successful, you make a prototype of that solution and test its acceptance with your customers. Only after you have found a successful solution, you will invest in executing your business.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A complete Sprint process involves user testing in the last two days. Scheduling is hard and resources are limited. It’s very easy to just do half of a Sprint and fall in love with the ideas your team come up with. A successful Sprint always include research with end users or at least internal people who is not in the Sprint team to validate the ideas. I would even recommend lower the fidelity of your prototype to squeeze in time for research. Testing some sketches on paper is definitely better than having a polished interactive prototype that haven’t been validated by anyone. You always learn something from user research, so you should always, always include research in your Sprint process.
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.