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Design Sprint: What,How,Why?

We live in a world today where things are changing every second. In order to keep up with the everchanging demands of customers, the corporate world has swiftly moved to Agile way of creating values for customers. This approach allows for a more rapid response to customer demands, but it is not always sufficient when dealing with complex and unfamiliar problems. Hence, Design Sprint is one of the ways for handling such complex problems.

Design sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers.In other words, we can also say that the Design Sprint is a process for small teams starting big projects. Following a step-by-step checklist, the team develops competing solutions, chooses the best, then builds and tests a prototype, all in just five days.

The book “How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days”by Jake Knapp refers to it as a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more — packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.

Lets talk about a bit of history behind Design Sprint, former Google Ventures design partner Jake Knapp devised the design sprint process for Google in 2010. He drew inspiration from areas such as Google’s product development culture and IDEO’s design thinking workshops.

5 phases of Design Sprint:

In 5 days, the Design Sprint help you:

  1. Understand:Understand the problem to which the whole process will be devoted.Map out the problem and pick an important area to focus.

  2. Ideate/Sketch: Find out the competing solutions to address the problem.Create a solution concept.

  3. Decide: Zero down on one method to pursue.

  4. Prototype:Create a basic MVP proptotype, which will be used for further testing of the designed solution.Should be prepared in a relatively short time and contain only basic functionalities that will help to assess its concept, operation and usefulness.

  5. Test/Validate: Finally, the hypotheses made in step 1 needs to be tested.Testing is done by a selected few people who meet certain criteria. During the tests, the strengths and weaknesses of the solution is identified.

Pre-requisite to have a Design Sprint:

After selecting the methodology, it is essential to confirm the availability of all necessary team members to conduct a successful Design Sprint. A diverse team with a variety of skills is required to ensure the effectiveness of the sprint.These are broadly categorized as:

  • Decider. They call the shots. Whether that’s the CEO or senior executive, they should be involved in the discussions early on since their decision will influence the sprint goal and the final product.

  • Facilitator. Also known as the time keeper is responsible for monitoring the team’s advancement throughout the Design Sprint and ensuring that each member fulfills their role. It is essential for them to maintain impartiality when making decisions.

  • Marketing expert. The individual who possesses the expertise to create effective messaging for your company’s communication with customers.

  • Customer service. 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 vision of the goal.

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

  • Financial expert. They can explain how much the project will cost and how much the company can expect to get from it in return.

Additional Preparation:

  • Block out the entire week in you and your team’s calendar.

  • No devices are allowed in the room. This is so that the entire team is focussed one hundred percent of the time.

  • Stock up on post-it notes. You’ll need these to jot down ideas and map them on a wall.

  • Whiteboards and plenty of markers.

Pros and Cons of Design Sprints

On the postive side, your team can:

  • Bypass lengthy debates and committee-style decision-making cycles.

  • Enjoy dynamic, focused collaboration.

  • Understand key users better.

  • All be clear about final deliverables.

  • Think creatively and experiment to explore a wider variety of ideas.

  • Avoid the need to compose detailed specifications.

  • Reduce the cost of failure of final deliverables during user testing.

  • Enjoy better ownership due to active collaboration.

  • Directly witness real users validating ideas.

On the hind side, your team should:

  • Consist of the right people who can commit to a 5-day sprint — potentially challenging for senior executives.

  • Choose the correct scope and expectations to ensure problems aren’t too complicated to solve in one week — this demands a careful eye to balance ambition with manageability.

  • Remember that success isn’t guaranteed.

  • Appreciate the intensity involved (hence “sprint”).

Major Highlights

  • User is king. User is the focal point of the Desig Sprint. The products/ services are built based on indepth understanding of the User wants and needs.They are asked for feedback and validation towards the end of the sprint.

  • Evaluates all perspectives. Design Sprints gather all important people in one place. This helps in reducing bureaucracy and siloed structure in the organisation because the process facilitates cross-team collaboration.

  • More Optimized.A sprint cuts out all inefficiencies and ineffective discussions. A five day sprint forces you and your team to focus and work towards something realistic by the end of the week.

  • Manages your stakeholder expectations. There is clear visibility and alignment from everyone on Day 1. Obtaining the buy-in of your stakeholders early in the sprint process and maintaining their involvement throughout the discussions, trust and respect can be established among all parties involved.

  • Learn fast, fail fast. The Design Sprint facilitates the attainment of a well-defined set of goals from the outset, compelling you to make vital decisions and tackle intricate problems quickly. This translates to substantial savings in terms of design, engineering, and development costs, allowing you and your team to hasten the product’s arrival in the market by zeroing in on the crucial elements.

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