Design Sprint ( from Google Ventures)
The sprint is a 2-4 day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers.
Why do I need this?
Hours and hours of meetings over many weeks and maybe months, long email threads, endless debates and still unclarity for which way to go with the product/service/process development... And lack of commitment from some parties when the final decision is made because they were not involved... Does this sound familiar? Then keep reading please.
The aim is to build a shortcut for effective product/service decision making by condensing the key activities ( understanding the problem, choosing a focus area, generating solutions, prototyping and testing with users) into less than a week, with every relevant person involved for a business challenge agreed upon. Use sprints when the challenge is rather big, stakes are rather high and when there’s not enough time, or when you’re just plain stuck. It was developed by Jake Knapp and his team mates in Google Ventures and their book has been very popular.
Who should be involved?
- At least one but preferably two facilators to prepare organize and run the sprint week.
- Key decision maker(s) for the focused product/service area.
- Necessary domain experts (engineering, finance etc.)
- Customer representatives
- Someone with prototyping skills
- whiteboards ( or wall papers to stick)
- yellow rectangular post-its
- sharpies (black whiteboard marker)
- small dot stickers (for voting)
- A4 papers (for sketching)
- tape ( to pit solution sketches on the wall )
- . Choose a challenge worth solving by bringing together a group of people for an intense workshop for multiple days.
- . Get a decider to participate at least part time, otherwise decisions won’t stick.
- . Recruit a sprint team. Seven people or fewer. Get diverse skills (design, marketing, engineering) along with the people who work on the project day-to-day.
- . Schedule extra experts for the first day to explain the problem and tried solutions etc. with short presentations. (Optional)
- . Pick a Facilitator. S/he will manage time, conversations, and the overall sprint process. Look for someone who’s confident leading a meeting and synthesizing discussions on the fly. It might be you!
- . Block the full days from the calendars and book a room with whiteboards and wall space for post-its etc.
And for the facilitators who will be running the Design Sprint, here are some tips
Participants are expected to fully commit for the workshop days with no in-between meetings, no distractions, no laptop, phone etc. outside the breaks.
You have your challenge defined generally and the team set, it's time to start the Sprint! And you start by sharing the existing information about the challenge with the team. Previous customer and market studies, current way of solving the challenge and previous attempts to solve it better etc. can be presented shortly by different people. The goal of this to to create a common understanding of the challenge and issues around it.
This would be the step to scope the challenge into something that the team understands commits to. Here is an exercise to help with that:
Stating the challenges in "How Might We ...?" format helps to turn them into opportunities in people's minds.
Diverge and Produce Solutions
Now that challenge and the focus area is clear, the team can start generating potential solutions. After looking up inspiring solutions from elsewhere and sharing them with the team, you can go ahead with ideating and sketching solutions. Visuals help to communicate ideas better and you don't need to be an artist, simple drawings and short text are enough.
Crazy 8's is a fast sketching exercise that challenges people to sketch eight distinct ideas in eight minutes. The goal is to push beyond your first idea, frequently the least innovative, and to generate a wide variety of solutions to your challenge. Neither the sketches or the ideas need to be great. The target here is to quiet your inner critic and let your creativity to go wild. It’s called Crazy 8’s for a reason.
After the first round of voting for the sketches, each member would come up with their Solution Sketch, synthesising what they have heard and thought of so far. The goal for each member is to detail the idea they thought to best for the solution, and visualise this for easy communication.
The idea here is to diverge and generate as many solutions as possible. Quantity before quality. The filtering of solutions will happen in the next step.
Decide and Storyboard
Follow these five steps to choose the strongest solution:
- Tape the solution sketches to the wall in one long row.
- Have each person review the sketches silently and put one to three small dot stickers beside every part he or she likes.
- Speed critique each solution sketch for 3 minutes per sketch. As a group, discuss the highlights of each solution. Capture standout ideas and important objections. At the end, ask the sketcher if the group missed anything.
- Each person silently chooses a favorite idea. All at once, each person places one large dot sticker to register his or her (nonbinding) vote.
- Supervote: Give the Decider three large dot stickers and write her initials on the sticker. Explain that you’ll prototype and test the solution the Decider chooses.
The decided solution can be remix of different solution sketches. Next you can Storyboard that solution as a team to help you plan the prototype. Storyboard is a grid of visual frames of usually 5-15 steps that outline the steps of your prototype.
Decision making takes energy. Make sure you have enough breaks.
Prototype and Validate
A Design Sprint prototype is a mock-up of the experience you have envisioned in the previous step. Just build what you need to make the prototype real enough to get an authentic response from a potential user to validate. So stick with what you have decided but only build the steps you want to test. There are many no-code digital prototyping tools (Sketch, Figma, Invision, Marvel etc.) you can use.
Next in the Validate phase, you will be putting your prototype in front of users for the moment of truth! You will gather feedback from users who interact with your prototype and answer your interview questions. You’ll end your Sprint with a validated concept– or an invalidated concept to improve on!