Why I also love design sprints …

Why I also love design sprints …

Normally I am not a big fan of  “hypes”. But I have to admit, “the design sprint” got me convinced. At the end of 2017 I can look back on 3 design weeks, 100% executed like the method intended. But I can also look back on 3 design sprint spin offs we came up with ourselves. We wanted to save some time. I must say, we learned to appreciate the original proces even more! For the ones doing the short cut … I have some tips on the stuff you should keep in place. 

What is a design sprint?

A sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with your users. Developed at Google Ventures, it’s a  collection of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more. Working together in a sprint can compress months of time of meetings and compress it into a single week. The proces is the perfect balance of ways to get a team together and to come up with a supported and viable design solution.

The 3 reasons why I am a fan …

  1. Time is money
    It’s a fast way to test ideas, and get fundamental feedback before you start building a product or feature. Instead of waiting to launch a product it is important to understand if an idea is any good. The design week results in a realistic prototype, ready to test and to give you solid data.
  2. Teambuilding
    You go on a journey together with your agency or team, which creates a mutual understanding of your role in the team and your vision of the project. You learn to appreciate each others expertise and creativity. Who has been trough a couple of crazy 8’s understands what I am talking about.
  3. The ultimate briefing and project launch
    Everybody on your team listens to the same experts, knows why the problem is defined like it is and understands why the scope only reaches this far. After this week you have a shared energy to come up with this amazing idea, that you rather do not wanna let go of this shared vibe anymore.

The sprint gives you an accelerator. Fast-forward into the future to see your finished product, and test the water with your customer reactions. The bonus? You did all this before making any expensive commitments.

The 3 things you should avoid …

Sometimes you just do not have the time to invest in a full week. The lessons we learned tweaking the method.

  1. Clear problem, small topic
    If you decide to go small, make sure the design problem your trying to solve is also small. You can use a mini version of a design sprint for an iteration on the prototype you delivered earlier on. Sometimes we thought no new ideas could come up anymore, and still every time we suprise each other.
  2. The breaks are sacred
    The first thing you want to skip is the many breaks and the healthy snacks. We discovered the hard way … this is what keeps you going and what keeps the energy positive. Debates tend to get long and more grumpy if people do not have a chance to catch a breath, or a coffee.
  3. Get the creativity juices flowing
    Earlier on I mentioned the crazy 8. We skipped this chapter a few times, but right away you notice it is hard to get the team in a designing mood without it. The inspiration and the free association is a kick starter for the next phase. Also when you did not spend enough time on the research phase, the design part ends in energy draining debates.

When you are working on complex software projects, it is very hard to get it right. To avoid working on false assumptions you need a team where business, design and technology are well represented and all the members respect each other. If you get the team members right, the Design Week has proven for me to be a valuable way to be a decent start of any design solution.

Have fun!