The Design Sprint: What, Why and Who?

design sprint

For those of us who are used to working in sprints implementing the Design Sprint practice is a logical step into a more quality Agile working environment. It’s a great way to validate your project, and get a grip of what challenges you might expect in the future. Also, Design Sprint sheds more light to why are you doing the project in the first place and helps you truly understand your goals.

The schedule

Design Sprint lasts five days. That’s the time you need to clear from every participant’s schedule. For multitaskers it might be hard to imagine a week where you are focusing on a single goal, but in just five days, your achievements will be as equally diverse:

  1. Understanding: You’ll map out the problem and pick an important area to focus on.
  2. Idealization: All of the competing solutions will be sketched out on paper.
  3. Decisions: You’ll be able to make decisions and turn your ideas into a testable hypothesis.
  4. Prototyping: You’ll be hacking together a realistic prototype.
  5. Testing: You’ll be getting feedback from real live users.

In a Design Sprint, every day of the week is supposed to produce a specific solution which you can later apply when you start building your product.

design sprint timetable

Monday

It all starts with a structured discussion. First thing in the morning will be to start at the end and agree on the long-term goal of the project. Ask your team this: “Why are we doing this project? Where do we want to be six months, a year or even five years from now?”

Next, you’ll make a map of the challenge. In the afternoon, you’ll ask the experts at your company to share what they know. Finally, you’ll pick a target: an ambitious but manageable piece of the problem that you can solve in one week.

Tuesday 

Now that there is an understanding of the problem you get to focus on solutions. The day starts with inspiration: a review of existing ideas to remix and improve. In the afternoon, each person will sketch their vision of how to solve the problem in question. You’ll also begin planning Friday’s customer test by recruiting customers that fit your target profile.

Wednesday

By now, you and your team will have a stack of solutions. But since you can’t prototype and test them all you need one solid plan. In the morning, you’ll critique each solution, and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take the winning scenes from your sketches and embed them into a storyboard: a step-by-step plan for your prototype.

Thursday 

Turn-storyboard-into-prototype day! A realistic wireframe is all you need to test with customers, and here’s the best part: by focusing on the customer-facing surface of your product or service, you can finish your prototype in just one day. On Thursday, you’ll also make sure everything is ready for Friday’s test by confirming the schedule, reviewing the prototype, and writing an interview script.

Friday

By Friday, you’ve created promising solutions, chosen the best, and built a realistic prototype. That alone would make for an impressively productive week. But you’ll take it one step further as you interview customers and learn by watching them react to your prototype. This test makes the entire sprint worthwhile.

At the end of the day, you’ll know how far you have to go, and you’ll know just what to do next.

The participants

So, who are the people you need to include in the Design Sprint? The team should be diverse in expertise so every aspect of the product is covered. In a more familiar terminology, the stakeholders of the Design Spring would be:

A decider 

A CEO or senior executive who should be involved in the discussions early on since their decision will influence the sprint goal and the final product.

A Facilitator 

They keep track of the team’s progress during the Design Sprint and ensure that everyone is playing their part. They need to remain unbiased in their opinion when it comes to decision time.

Marketing expert

The person who is skilled at crafting your company’s message to your customers.

Customer service representative

They interact with your customers on a regular basis and truly understand who your users are.

Design expert

They design the product and help to realise the visualization of the goal.

Tech expert

They are in the best position to understand what your company can build and deliver.

Financial expert

They’ll crunch the numbers and figure out how much the project will cost and how much the company can expect to get from it in return.

We’re already Agile, why do we need one more “sprinting” activities?

desing sprint vs mvp

Well, don’t you want to deliver faster? If you’re satisfied with the speed and frequency of your delivery process, that’s ok. However, you might want to try something new once in a while, it could be a refreshment for your team. They could be more productive and develop a better team spirit under different working circumstances.

Other than that with the Design Sprint you know firsthand and quickly the real feedback from your customers. This feedback is crucial because it helps you improve your product or service at the same time you design it.

You don’t have to wait for the MVP to be completed and you can live out a part of your project in advance, reducing the planning and designing stages of the project from months to days. 

Enough of a reason? 

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