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 Design Sprint framework or Design Sprint 1.0 is a 5-stage process that runs over the course of 5-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., the Design Sprint Academy has re-engineered the Design Sprint 1.0 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 core from day one, not just during the last day of testing.
This is a preliminary step that we have created to ensure effective outcomes from a Design Sprint. We designed this as a response to being in Sprints where we realised 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 5 days seem like a short time, it requires a significant investment for most organisations as 7 to 10 key people are blocked during this period, doing nothing else. That is why it becomes critical to pick the right problem to solve to make this investment worthwhile.
Problem Framing is a half to a full-day workshop that involves the main stakeholders, typically exec. level (including the eventual nominated Design Sprint ‘Decider’).
On Monday, the Sprint Team (which most of the time is different than the one in the Framing) takes the time to understand the problem, context and all available information and insights. We structured the morning discussions leading to the Sprint Goal into an activity called Lightning Talks, where the team shares their points of view on the problem at hand 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.
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.
After lunch, we review the solutions and decide which we prototype.
The rest of Tuesday afternoon, a solid 1.5 hours, will be dedicated to storyboarding.
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).
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 next steps.
A one-day workshop with all relevant decision-makers to effectively establish the problem before the sprint, get the sponsor’s buy-in and ensure the recruitment of the right design sprint team;
Four days instead of five! We refined the second day of the design sprint by kicking off with ideation and ending it with a cohesive storyboard.
We are building Empathy with the User right from the first day of the sprint, by embedding research insights or existing data into the Understand and Define phase.