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  • Blog August 23, 2018

    5 Tips to Run a Design Sprint Successfully

    2 minutes

“If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.”
-Alfred Nobel (Founder of the Nobel Peace Prize)

Alfred Nobel held 355 patents for items he invented, yet he believed that you must sort through thousands of great ideas to get to a good one. If this is the case, how do we sort through the bad ideas to arrive at a good one? Taking it one step further, how do we go from thinking we have a good idea, to knowing we have a good idea?

Usually, it takes months of investment to build out an idea and by the time you realize it was a bad one, the damage is already done. What if you could shorten that learning curve to JUST 5 DAYS? That is the premise behind the Google Design Sprint. Using the Design Sprint methodology, you can find answers to business-critical questions via research, ideation, prototyping, and testing in a compressed time frame.

We have been doing Design Sprints for a while now and trust me it isn’t just meant for getting better traction on digital platforms or for small startup firms; this flexible and highly collaborative method can be tailored to fit a number of different problems across industries irrespective of size. However, this is not as simple as it sounds because every sprint is unique. Here are a few tips we picked up from various Sprint facilitators to help you get the most out of it:

Ask Yourself “Is a Design Sprint Actually Needed”

Not every problem needs a Design Sprint, some things can be sorted out with just a lengthy whiteboard discussion or a half-day workshop. Figure out if your problem is big enough that needs the precious time of everyone for a week. You need to plan it appropriately and each member of the team must have a solid understanding of the purpose before they meet on Day 1.

Mind the “Participants”

Make sure you have engaged the right people for the operation. Many wonderful Sprints go waste if the thought process of a few members is not perfectly aligned to the whole agenda of the Sprint. Include a diverse set of stakeholders (in a limited number of course) across all departments who agree that the problem is critical and can deliver a significant amount of value in a very short frame of time.

Role of “Facilitator”

Every minute is critical in a Sprint. It is the facilitator’s job to get members up to speed and guide them before making a transition from one phase to the other. Explain why the activity is required and how to approach it. Right from managing time, easing friction, guiding conversations to adjusting the agenda when required, a facilitator plays a huge role in driving the outcome of a Design Sprint.

“Commitment” is Important

Successful Sprints need involved and committed members. Given the very short span of time, people engaged in other activities apart from Sprint will not be able to contribute their best and might ruin it. So, get their commitment in advance and ensure each of them are available as required to consult for the product feasibility and customer needs even if the designated time of the Sprint session is over. Also, it is important for everyone to put away their phones and personal devices to prevent distraction.

Keep your “Mind Open”

No matter how brilliant your idea is, you will have to value the ideas presented by others. After all, that is what Sprint means- sketching competing solutions around a problem and filtering them down to choose the best idea (or ideas).

One last thing, do not ever break the 5-day Sprint. It needs to be performed on 5 consecutive days no matter what. If you break it, you lose the momentum.

Hope you find these tips helpful when you run the next Sprint.