Why Invest In A Design Sprint
How do we tackle one of the biggest human inhibitors to innovation: fear? The fear of investing time, money or resources into a product or project that could fail to deliver true value for customers. This problem is one that design thinking, coupled with behavioural science often tries to answer. It reframes problem-solving by combining creative and analytical thinking to spur innovation.
Recently, we proposed a Design Sprint as an outcome of our discovery research for a client. Beyond it being a successful project, it served as an eye-opener for the client on how valuable this framework is in shifting perceptions on how innovation can be approached and delivered across the board.
What is a Design Sprint?
Developed at Google Ventures in 2016 by Jake Knapp, the Design Sprint is a five-day process to start big projects, test hypotheses, and assess product/market fit. It is used to validate and gain feedback quickly on any problem to help create highly-effective and viable products in the long run.
In the book, Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, it is referred to as “The ‘greatest hits’ of business strategy, innovation, behavioural science, and more — packaged into a step-by-step process that any team can use.”
Major companies like Slack, HubSpot, Pinterest, Facebook, LEGO, and The New York Times have adopted this process.
The framework provides an effective guide to the innovation process, taking a business through every step in the product life cycle, from inception through to product design and launch in just 5 days.
Better yet, having been tried and tested over the past years, the process has been tweaked with adjustments, creating a condensed, “semi-official” version of the original sprint. Design Sprint 2.0 rewires the full sprint into 4 days, specifically geared for larger organisations that can't commit to a full week.
For anyone who has ever dealt with senior stakeholders schedules knows this is a major win. This process only requires the full team (particularly decision makers) to be committed for just two full days.
How does it work?
The framework merges design thinking with lean startup principles to empower teams to quickly answer questions, make decisions and move forward with confidence.
A cross-functional team, ideally of not more than 7, moves from identifying the problem to testing a solution in just a couple of days by working through different stages of thinking. The process brings everyone together over two days for focused, uninterrupted work.
Through the guidance of a sprint facilitator the team works through a series of problem-solving exercises and design tasks. The results at the end of day two is an agreed upon outline for an initial prototype to be created and tested with real users for feedback.
This structure supports teams to break-out of their traditional thinking patterns, clearly define goals and validates any assumptions. This allows teams to decide on a preliminary product roadmap before starting actual development. It's seen as a short-cut approach to learning because it provides business with an insight to the future of a project without the risk.
The Value of a Design Sprint
Cross-Team Collaboration: The framework provides a unique collaboration process, where individuals work on tasks alone, but decide together on outcomes. The process helps break the silos and unlock the power of team collaboration by involving people from all relevant parts of the business. It is a great tool for culture change through seeing a new way of working and problem solving that delivers value.
Speed & Momentum: The workshop is structured, through time-boxed exercise and voting, to help keep ideas moving and accelerate decision-making. A key mantra of the workshop is “Getting started is more important than getting things right.” This was one benefit our client picked up early on; they acknowledged that this particular problem was one they often had conversation in circles about and was amazed how far they moved one day!
A Customer-Centred Framework: The Sprint framework is underpinned by design thinking and problem framing approaches which are customer-centric methods. The entire process helps to reframe the problem in human-centric ways, by creating many ideas and by adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing. Ensuring you’re truly designing a product that is customer-lead.
Less Risk, Better Innovation: The value here is two-fold, as rapid ideation is an invaluable tool for the creative process. Firstly, it dramatically reduces the risk of failure because ideas that aren't viable are discovered in a matter of days vs months. This in turn leaves more room for innovation and “crazy” break-through ideas.
In conclusion, design sprints are a quick way of ideating and problem solving when you're not sure what to do or struggling with a problem. This methodology guarantees to unlock new ways of working and tangible outcomes— the problem is irrelevant.