The Design Sprint framework was developed at Google to align teams under a shared vision with clearly defined goals and deliverables. Popularized by Jake Knapp in the book “Sprint”, the design sprint framework is now being adopted by companies big and small, and from all over the world within different industries.
The original Google Ventures Design Sprint framework is a 5-stage process that runs over the course of five days to solve big problems and answer critical business questions.
With a small team and a clear schedule for the week, you’ll rapidly progress from problem to tested solution. On Monday, you create a map of the problem. On Tuesday, each individual sketches solutions. Then, on Wednesday, you decide which sketches are the strongest. On Thursday, you build a realistic prototype. And finally, on Friday, you test that prototype with five target customers.
After running dozens of design sprints for big and small companies around the globe, from Adidas, Redbull, Rovio, Bank of Ireland to Springer, etc., we have re-engineered the Google Ventures Design Sprint process to further connect the sprint outcomes to the business goals, to ensure the optimal use of the resources (when to run a sprint, with what team) and to place the user at the core from day one, not just during the last day of testing.
📌 1-2 weeks before the design sprint ⏰ 1-1,5 days 👩💻 7-8 key decision-makers
Problem Framing is a strategy and alignment workshop involving a team of key decision-makers, typically executive level. Problem Framing is a preliminary step that we have created to ensure effective outcomes from a Design Sprint.
We designed this strategy workshop as a response to facilitating Design Sprints where our clients did not know what the problem was, or if it even existed. Or alternatively, the problems we were tackling were too broad to allow a practical solution or too narrow to be worth the investment. Although a 5-day Design Sprint seems like a short time, it requires a significant investment for most organizations, as 7 to 10 key people are blocked during this period. That is why it becomes critical to pick the right problem to solve to make this investment worthwhile.
🧠 Learn more about how to facilitate a Problem Framing workshop with your team of stakeholders and make better decisions, faster!
📌 1-2 weeks after Problem Framing ⏰ 4 days 👩💻 7-8 makers
Morning session ▸ The Sprint Team (which most of the time is different than the one in the Framing) takes the time to understand the problem, the business context, the desired outcomes, and the customer insights. We structured the morning discussions leading to the Sprint Goal into an activity called Lightning Talks, where the team shares their point of view and reviews the Design Sprint Brief. However, by far, one of the most important additions we have made was building empathy with the user and embedding pre-sprint research insights during the mapping session.
Afternoon session ▸ Because only “what gets measured, gets to be done” we’re defining the direction of the sprint and the project’s success metrics.
Results 🎯 – a shared understanding of the sprint challenge and a clear sprint focus.
Morning session ▸ In the original process, half of Tuesday is reserved for Lightning Demos. By assigning Lightning Demos research as homework on Monday we can jump straight to the presentations, thus, cutting the required time from 3 hours to 30–45 minutes. We will use the rest of the morning, for the Solution Sketch. Besides time savings, another (quite significant) gain is that people get to sketch with a fresh mind (it’s still morning) and because they just got inspired after the demos the solutions tend to be more creative.
Afternoon session ▸ The team reviews all solutions and decides which to be prototyped through an activity called Sticky Decision. The rest of Tuesday afternoon, a solid 2-3 hours, will be dedicated to storyboarding.
Results 🎯 – the best solutions are stringed together into a storyboard.
The heated discussions from Tuesday’s storyboarding session are now a thing of the past, and with a clear head, the team reviews and refines the storyboard (if needed) while at the same time assigning roles and planning prototyping work (1 hour tops). We encourage everyone in the group to assume a role and get their hands dirty (yes, that includes any senior executives in the room). Besides team bonding, the team will develop a shared sense of ownership which will help to carry over the results (as opposed to a prototype a designer or agency built).
Results 🎯 – a realistic facade is built and ready to be tested.
Moment of truth. Thursday is about user testing, asking the most effective questions. Make sure that after each interview, the team takes the time to review and make sense of the feedback, and then at the end of the day plans the next steps.
Results 🎯 – validated or invalidated concept.
🧠 Having trained the likes of SAP, Roche, RGAx to nail their design sprints, we’re teaching coaches, consultants, designers, and product teams long-lasting skills through interactive live online courses.
The original Google Ventures Design Sprint is a 5-stage process designed with startups in mind. It wasn’t designed to address the complex challenges of more established enterprises, which is the reason design sprints often fail in more mature organizations.
Define the right problems accurately
De-risk big projects and the design sprint itself
Tightly align the sprint outcomes to business goals