Design sprints tackle big problems.
A design sprint gives teams a direct path to learning without the expense of building and launching a product.
Design sprints allow teams to quickly arrive at customer validated answers to a product’s most important questions. By focusing energy on testing a hypothesis with real customers, the team can minimize risk on a high-stakes initiative. What would normally take months to achieve is condensed to five days.
A design sprint is the perfect opportunity to address big problems.
“I was nervous about a design sprint that would tie up all resources for a whole week but it accelerated our thinking on projects that were already in motion.”
CEO & CO-FOUNDER, NAILSNAPS
“It was stimulating to see the team make tangible progress day by day.”
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, VRAI & ORO
“…the design sprint allowed us to come together and communicate as a team, far beyond Slack updates and weekly meetings.”
CEO, VRAI & ORO
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How a design sprint works
Each five-day sprint is planned around an intense schedule of creative collaboration. Because of the highly collaborative nature, ideas and proposed solutions can come from any participant in the room, not just the leader. The focus is on convergent shared understanding, and divergent individual proposals, that converge again in the end on a testable prototype.
Who’s in the room?
What we do each day
DAY ONE: MAP
Day One is focused on the art of discovery. Through the eyes of the various team members in attendance, we learn the nuances of the business: how it achieves it’s business goals, how it impacts it’s users, and how the process maps out from end-to-end. The day concludes with the definition of the sprint goal.
DAY TWO: SKETCH
Innovation builds on the past and the first half of Day Two is focused on the achievements in the industry that inspire the team. How would various pieces make sense in the context of our goal? The remainder of the day is spent individually sketching proposed solutions to the challenge.
DAY THREE: DECIDE
It’s time to judge the sketches. The first half of Day Three is spent judging sketches and picking out aspects that appeal to the team. Building on the sketches and inspiration from day two, the second half of day three is spent storyboarding the flow of our prototype.
DAY FOUR: PROTOTYPE
From the opening bell, Day Four is focused on prototyping and you’ll need every minute. After determining the appropriate tools for the objective, and assigning roles for the team members, the day moves quickly through the build process. After a test run at the end of the day you’re ready to test.
DAY FIVE: TEST
The moment of truth…is this the solution you’ve been dreaming about, or should you run the other direction screaming? Either way, you’re getting customer feedback and that is something special. Day Five wraps up the sprint with valuable and immediately actionable insights.
Objections to running a design sprint
“We can’t tie up resources for an entire week.”
While it’s true that a good portion of your team will be dedicated to the five-day sprint, it’s best looked at as an investment. The design sprint is dedicated to either a challenge you’re already pursuing or one you’ve had in mind for some time…something ambitious. The best use of your time and resources is to meet the challenge immediately and build from the learnings.
The design sprint is a rigorous process that involves not only your team, but also facilitators, interviewers and customers themselves. Because of this intensity, there is a cost associated the process. But because the design sprint is built to minimize as much risk as possible, the savings it offers in potentially building the wrong product far outweighs the cost.
“I only have an idea.”
If you’ve got a great idea, but you haven’t built a product or figured out how your product would fit in the market, a five-day design sprint may not be the most beneficial first step. The sprint process is built on foundational pieces related to a product’s current users as well as it’s performance. Without information such as this, it would be difficult starting with a sprint.
“Our product is in a good place, we’re just looking to A/B test.”
We love testing. As a matter of fact, Day Five of the sprint is undoubtedly the apex of the process. You get to watch as five potential customers interact with your prototype. But if you’re happy with your product and only want to A/B test a button color or some navigation naming, a design sprint would be overkill. Go ahead and run your tests as planned. You’ll be glad you did.
“We’re not sure this is the right time.”
We believe in the old adage, there’s no time like the present. When are you ever really ready to disrupt an industry? The sooner you get validation on your ideas, the better you’ll feel about the direction and the quicker it’ll all move.
Design sprints were born from a confluence of collaborative design movements. Sprints evolved from the scientific method, the problem solving strategies of corporate consultant Min Basadur, the thought leadership and experimentation of IDEO, the experiments at d.school: Institute of Design at Stanford, and culminating with its most detailed expression at Google Ventures.
Design sprint methodology has been detailed in two recent books: Design Sprint by Richard Banfield, C Todd Lombardo & Trace Wax and, most recently, Sprint by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky & Braden Kowitz of Google Ventures.
Recent design sprints