A Guide to Running a Successful Design Sprint

Startups value time highly and shouldn’t waste it on developing a product that doesn’t align with their targets and objectives. The repercussions of investing valuable resources and time into a product that is doomed to fail can be costly and cause the startup’s growth to slow down. That’s why it’s crucial to develop the right product speedily without delay to ensure timely progress.

Google Ventures’ (GV) introduction of the Design Sprint process has proven to be a valuable solution for teams hoping to quickly test assumptions or tackle complicated problems. We were thrilled to have Ha Nguyen, Senior Investment Partner at Omidyar Network, who has over fifteen years of experience in product management for consumer internet firms, join us and share her best practices for leading successful Design Sprints for organizations in Omidyar’s portfolio and other digital sectors.

What is the purpose of a brief design period?

The use of a design sprint enables your team to produce top-notch ideas quickly. This approach is a streamlined way to create new proposals and establish a roadmap for future development.

According to Hannah, teams frequently express their gratitude towards sprints since they serve as an effective process which encourages diverse team members who wouldn’t usually collaborate to unite to overcome significant challenges.

The sprint methodology is an immensely successful approach to garner support for novel ideas and stimulates cooperation among various departments. As Ha suggests, sprints are a structured way of uniting teams and creating excitement, which can be employed to foster innovative problem-solving. Besides, design sprints can result in a major cultural transformation within a company, promoting collaboration, customer-centricity, swifter development cycles, and more efficient business practices.

How a sprint operates

A standard sprint occurs during one workweek (like the aforementioned instance) and includes four phases:

Preparatory Phase for the Sprint

Before commencing a sprint, it is crucial to have a precise comprehension of the sizeable, intricate problem, identify the optimal team members to tackle the issue, and determine the prerequisites that must be met. Additionally, a facilitator should be designated to oversee the sprint logistics. The final stage is to bring together the necessary personnel and equip them for the upcoming tasks.

Han recommends identifying the vital decision-makers in the process, such as the CEO or business owner, marketing and sales team heads, customer service representatives, and customer success managers. Furthermore, it is crucial to pinpoint the individual who will bear the responsibility of validating the chosen solution with customers.

After assembling the core team, convene in a spacious conference room equipped with whiteboards and the necessary materials mentioned earlier.

Secondly, Set Commencement of the Sprint and Analyze and Define It.

At the outset of the sprint, it is imperative to provide a synopsis of its objectives and targets. Having discussions with the Chief Executive Officer and a Customer Service Specialist is vital for gaining a more in-depth understanding of the company’s and client’s priorities. During the idea generation stage, employing markers and post-it notes to record ideas and reframe the issues tackled in the interviews into probable solutions utilising the “How Might We” format is useful. Subsequently, the concepts should be classified based on their corresponding themes, as illustrated in the accompanying figure.

Thirdly, Select Ideas and Make a Decision.

In the following stage, the participants are motivated to perform various design-thinking activities to generate ideas and create prototypes. Ha has developed a specific approach to implement during sprints, outlined as follows:

  1. Wild 8s:

    The participants fold a sheet of paper into eight sections, each containing a different rendition of one of their best ideas (with one minute allotted for each sketch).
  2. In a gallery:

    Each person presents their illustrations on the walls, akin to an art exhibition.
  3. Heat Map:

    In silence, sprint participants review the sketches and attach sticky notes by those they deem promising.
  4. Rapid-Fire Review:

    Prior to making a decision, the team engages in a discussion focused on the speedy appraisal of the suggested concepts, with particular emphasis on thoroughly examining and analysing the most contentious ideas.

Phase 4: Validating the Accuracy of the Final Product

Lastly, a prototype of the final solution must be established and assessed through five to seven interviews with potential users. These interviews will help gauge user responses to the prototype’s functionality to verify its success. If it proves successful, the development process can commence. If not, it may be necessary to revise the plan or make some modifications.

Would you like to delve deeper into a real-life design sprint that Ha implemented? If your answer is yes, exploring the complete presentation would provide more information about conducting a successful design sprint. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to make your next design sprint your most successful one yet!

Note: “exploring the complete presentation” should be hyperlinked to the URL of the presentation with `target=”_blank”`.

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