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.
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.
Braden Kowitz added story-centered design, an unconventional approach that focuses on the customer journey instead of individual features or technologies. Michael Margolis took customer research—which can typically take weeks to plan and often delivers confusing results—and figured out a way to get crystal clear results in just one day. John Zeratsky helped us start at the end, and focus on measuring results with the key metrics from each business. And Daniel Burka brought firsthand expertise as an entrepreneur to ensure every step made sense in the real world.
Humans naturally develop patterns of thinking modeled on repetitive activities and commonly accessed knowledge. These assist us in quickly applying the same actions and knowledge in similar or familiar situations, but they also have the potential to prevent us from quickly and easily accessing or developing new ways of seeing, understanding and solving problems. These patterns of thinking are often referred to as schemas, which are organized sets of information and relationships between things, actions and thoughts that are stimulated and initiated in the human mind when we encounter some environmental stimuli. A single schema can contain a vast amount of information. For example, we have a schema for dogs which encompasses the presence of four legs, fur, sharp teeth, a tail, paws, and a number of other perceptible characteristics. When the environmental stimuli match this schema — even when there is a tenuous link or only a few of the characteristics are present — the same pattern of thought is brought into the mind. As these schemas are stimulated automatically, this can obstruct a more fitting impression of the situation or prevent us from seeing a problem in a way that will enable a new problem-solving strategy. Innovative problem solving is also known as “thinking outside of the box”.
“By Wednesday morning, you and your team will have a stack of solutions. That’s great, but it’s also a problem. You can’t prototype and test them all — you need one solid plan. In the morning, you’ll critique each solution, and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take the winning scenes from your sketches and weave them into a storyboard: a step-by-step plan for your prototype.”
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.
You might use a design sprint to start a new cycle of updates, expanding on an existing concept or exploring new ways to use an existing product. For example, we worked with a marketing data company that realized the data it gathered might be useful to other market segments. Building a prototype gave the team the validation it needed and prompted a deeper investment into that product segment, which ultimately was rewarded with a significant increase in sales.
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.
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 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.
The outcome of a Design Sprint is not an end result, but rather a starting point. The goal of a Design Sprint is not to end up with a perfect solution after just one week, but to get feedback on one or two possible solutions. What we usually see is that the direction is so big (because your problem is big), you need to further split your solutions into chewable chucks to for prioritization and phasing. So don’t focus too much on building exactly what you come up with in the Sprint, the result of a successful Design Sprint is better understanding of the problem, better alignment within the team and feedback on potential solutions you can further research and design on.
action activity Aldo Rossi analogy analysis applied approach appropriate architects architectural design architectural positions arrangement aspects associationism Bernstein bricolage building chitectural clearly Colquhoun complex composition concept constraints construction context Corbusier creative decision decision tree defined design problems design thinking devices distinction earlier elements episodes evaluation example expression facade figure formal framework functional further Hannes Meyer heuristic heuristic reasoning inquiry instance interpretation involved kind Le Corbusier logical means means-ends analysis ment Michael Graves modern normative positions organizing principles orientation particular Peter Eisenman planning Press prob problem at hand problem space problem-solving behavior procedures proposed protocol qualities Rational Architecture realm reference represent rules scheme Scott Brown seen selective inattention sense Simon social solution solver solving spatial specific strategy structure subproblems systematic technical theoretical theory tion tradition tural ture urban design wicked problems York
Test the prototype with real live humans, and validate. The team finally gets to see live users interact with their idea,s and hear direct feedback from the target audience. Everyone on the team observes the Validation sessions: watching your users try out the prototype is the best way to discover major issues with your design, which in turn lets you start iterating immediately. In addition, the team can organize a review to collect feedback from Technical Experts or Leadership Stakeholders.
What if we asked as many questions as kids? Frederik highlights the imbalance between the number of questions we ask as kids versus adults. “For example, my oldest child probably asks about 180 questions a day. But as adults, we’re maybe asking 2-4 questions a day.” In his book A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger shares a great example of this. The simple, yet powerful question that led to the creation of the Polaroid Instant Camera—why do we have to wait for the picture—came from the four-year-old daughter of the founder of Polaroid.
The course materials take you through absolutely everything, start to finish, but if you’re already a Design Sprint facilitator then you probably won’t need to go through all the exercises, but things like the presentation slides, cheatsheet, and prototyping templates will probably be the most useful stuff, and maybe hearing some of our learnings throughout the videos will also help you avoid some common mistakes and learn some ‘hacks’
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.
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.
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.
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.
“When we heard about Wily's Two-Day Design Sprint Bootcamp, it was a no-brainer for us to sign up a team from Duke Energy's Idea Lab. We’ve been using Design Sprints at our company for almost 2 years now, and we’re excited to get some fresh perspective and new ideas from Jake Knapp, Jeff Grant, Wily's seasoned experts, and the other bootcamp participants. We're also big fans of Jake—it's a big deal to have him in Charlotte and hope others will take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity."
The product person: 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. If any of these descriptions sound familiar then this book was intended for you.
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.
The course is totally self-paced and you can move through the materials at a pace you’re comfortable with. It’s our aim to make you Design Sprint-facilitation-ready as quickly as possible and we don’t want to waste your time with pointless exercises and tasks that don’t contribute to you becoming a confident facilitator, so we estimate that you can complete the course and be ready to facilitate your first Sprint within 2 weekends, without stress.
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.
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.
In Design Thinking Peter Rowe provides a systematic account of the process ofdesigning in architecture and urban planning. He examines multiple and often dissimilar theoreticalpositions whether they prescribe forms or simply provide procedures for solving problems - asparticular manifestations of an underlying structure of inquiry common to all designing. Over 100illustrations and a number of detailed observations of designers in action support Rowe'sthesis.Peter G. Rowe is Raymond Garbe Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at HarvardUniversity and Chairman of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard GraduateSchool of Design, Harvard University.
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.
What I Find Noteworthy: Well-known MOOC provider partnering with one of the world’s most respected design sprint firms, to deliver a crash course on design sprints. I’ve strongly considered taking this class as I already enjoy watching AJ&Smart’s videos on YouTube. In addition to providing a good baseline knowledge of design sprints, the class seems like a great way to get in some “practice reps” before attempting to facilitate an actual sprint.
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.
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.