Design Sprints were invented to address the question at the core of business innovation: how can we determine the value of a product before investing in its creation? Design Sprints help you compress months of designing, building, launching, and iterating into just one week by utilizing a timeboxed format that focuses on brainstorming and decision making.
What is a Design Sprint?
It’s the “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavioral science, design thinking, and more—packaged into a step-by-step process that any team can use. – Jake Knapp
It encourages user-centered thinking by defining clear goals, rapidly building a prototype, and gaining insights through user testing in 5 days. Let’s delve a bit deeper to understand each day of a sprint session:
Day 1: Monday –
Teams gather in a room for a brainstorming session to explore the problem from different perspectives, map the user journey, and pinpoint challenges and weaknesses. The goal is to identify one actionable problem and outline a set of questions that should be answered by the end of the week. This is much easier for a smaller organization, as they don’t follow a rigid hierarchy and the decision-makers are within arm’s reach.
Day 2: Tuesday –
Once the problem is identified and the team has gained insights, each team member works alone to sketch out a possible solution to the best of their understanding.
Day 3: Wednesday –
Now that the team has many possible solutions sketched up, it’s time to filter them down and choose the best one. The day kicks off with a vote using a process called “sticky decisions,” whereby team members put all of the solutions on the board and select the best aspects of each proposal. At the end of this phase, the team comes to a consensus about what they’d like to prototype.
Day 4: Thursday –
On this day, the chosen idea is turned into a quick and dirty prototype. Creating a prototype in just one day might sound unrealistic because, usually, prototyping takes weeks. However, an important thing to remember when prototyping is that it doesn’t need to be a fully designed product —it only needs to be functional enough to get feedback from users.
Day 5: Friday –
This day answers the most critical question in the product design stage: “How do I know if my work is any good?” During this phase, the prototype is tested with real users, and their reactions are observed. If validation occurs successfully, it’s time to move to Agile Sprints, a technology version of the Design Sprint where engineering is brought to the table. A real product is built.
When is a Design Sprint a good idea?
How do you determine if a Design Sprint is the right fit for your company? You should consider running a Design Sprint if you’d like to:
- Launch a new product or service that involves a lot of time and money.
- Improve opportunities for your product.
- Solve a problem with your product or service.
- Improve user experience and results.
- Speed up the development process.
- Add new features to a product.
- Or you are just plain stuck and have lost momentum.
Is A Design Sprint Worth It?
Yes, absolutely! Let’s look at a few of the benefits of a Design Sprint that makes it worth the time and money:
- Offers simple solutions to complex problems by forcing teams to find answers in a single week.
- Increases speed to value by shrinking the amount of iterations and scope creep.
- Reduces the cost of failure by seeking user validation before full-scale development ensues.
- Encourages effective collaboration and focus by inserting a massive time crunch on problem solving.
In recent years, Design Sprints have been adopted by organizations across the globe to find better and faster ways to learn and create. Big software giants working on the subsequent technology breakthrough to mid-sized management consulting companies reinvent their client practices to start-ups defining their market strategies. The Design Sprint is a one-size-fits-all framework that enables businesses of all sizes to validate their most significant ideas in just five days.
Update: Design Sprint 2.0 is here!
The latest and greatest design sprint format gets the same great results outlined above but in just four days. Get your free copy of “A Complete Guide to Design Sprint 2.0” here.
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