Today’s product designers face a question their predecessors—or even their younger selves—never had to ponder: Will artificial intelligence solve this problem in a unique way? More and more, the answer is yes, with the caveat that AI isn’t a universal solution but something that in the right instance can improve an experience, by offering people new kinds of predictive information, personalized services, or even a deeper understanding of their own needs. For designers, this technology glimmers with opportunity while raising a whole host of new questions: Is AI a material, a tool, or both? How can we become AI-fluent, to ensure that algorithmic decision-making translates into a meaningful experience for everyone? New guidance may help pave the way: PAIR’s People + AI Guidebook and Material Design patterns for the ML Kit API each offer tactics and advice for creating products with AI. “We’re setting up the scaffolding so our users can understand this new technology,” says Material Design creative director Rachel Been. Yet building that framework requires a thoughtful, nuanced approach that’s deeply rooted in human needs. We sat down with Been, Öznur Özkurt, a design manager at DeepMind Health, and Jess Holbrook, a PAIR lead and one of the creators of the People + AI Guidebook, to better understand how designers can harness and humanize AI’s vast potential.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
The word sprint comes from the world of Agile, and it describes a short period of time, typically 1–4 weeks, set aside to accomplish a focused goal. The design sprint is no different. It uses the original concept of the sprint to describe a period of time dedicated to working on the necessary design thinking. This time-bounded paradigm is critical to the success of the design sprint. Timeboxing, as it’s sometimes called, is essential to driving the right types of behavior from the participants. In addition to speeding up the product design and development process, it also takes advantage of core parts of our human nature: energy economy and social collaboration.
With a solid foundation in science and rationality, Design Thinking seeks to generate a holistic and empathetic understanding of the problems that people face. Design thinking tries to empathize with human beings. That involves ambiguous or inherently subjective concepts such as emotions, needs, motivations, and drivers of behaviors. The nature of generating ideas and solutions in Design Thinking means this approach is typically more sensitive to and interested in the context in which users operate and the problems and obstacles they might face when interacting with a product. The creative element of Design Thinking is found in the methods used to generate problem solutions and insights into the practices, actions, and thoughts of real users.
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.
Philippe Antoine did an enticing job presenting the Design Sprint methodology on Google booth at Vivatech last June. What is Google Design Sprint approach? It’s a five days framework, combining Design Thinking with Lean Startup, to move from a customer problem to a range of creative ideas, and a tested prototype. In other words, it helps answer critical business questions through rapid prototyping, and user testing.
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.
Google could learn a lesson from REALM Charter School in Berkeley, California, where students put the principles of good design thinking into practice. Emily Pilloton, teacher and Studio H founder, wrote that design should be “an active response to a context . . . a social act that builds citizenship in the next generation.” Students in her program have built a school library, a farmers’ market, and an outdoor classroom. But before diving into the projects, they conduct ethnographic research to identify their community’s (or, in the case of the library and classroom, their own) needs.
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.
With the skills you will learn you will be able to modify and create new Design Sprint agendas and flows that fits your needs. Often Sprint Masters need to adapt according to their needs and resources. This means making changes in the original process flow depicted in the original books or ever-changing modifications of it like Design Sprint 2.0. These hard-coded Sprint agendas need constant adjustments to perform in specific scenarios and with specific resources.
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!
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.
The third principle, which is also new to the method, is that of the "Innovation Space" model. Tim Brown believes that innovation can only work when the "Technology is Feasible", the "Business is Viable" and the "Value Proposition is Desirable". Especially the Desirable part is a new way of thinking and it connects to the "Empathy" aspect in the Design Thinking Cycle. I advise you to take a careful look at the "Innovation Space" model and see whether you understand all aspects of it.