A Guide to Running a Successful Design Sprint

Time is a precious commodity for startups, and it is essential to ensure that it is not squandered on developing a product that fails to meet targets and objectives. Investing time and resources into the wrong product can prove to be a costly mistake, and can slow down the progress of a startup if rapid expansion is the goal. Thus, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that the right product is developed in a timely manner.

The Design Sprint process, pioneered by Google Ventures (GV), has become an invaluable tool for teams looking to rapidly test hypotheses and solve complex problems. With over fifteen years of experience in product management in the consumer internet sector, we were delighted to have Ha Nguyen, Senior Investment Partner at Omidyar Network, join us to share the best practices she has developed while leading Design Sprints for Omidyar’s portfolio companies and other digital organizations.

What’s the point of putting together a short design period?

By utilizing a design sprint, your team can rapidly create high-quality ideas. This method is an efficient way to not only generate new concepts, but also to develop a plan of action for the future.

Hannah explains that teams often express their appreciation for sprints as an effective process that brings together different team members that would not usually collaborate, with the purpose of tackling a significant challenge.

Sprinting is a highly effective way of obtaining support for fresh concepts, and it encourages collaboration between different departments. As Ha explains, sprints are “a structured method that brings together teams and generates enthusiasm,” and they can be used to promote imaginative problem-solving. Additionally, design sprints may bring about a considerable shift in a company’s culture, promoting cooperation, customer-centricity, faster development cycles, and a more streamlined way of doing business.

The mechanics of a sprint

A typical sprint takes place over the course of a single workweek (see the above example) and consists of the following four phases:

Initial Preparation for the Sprint

Before beginning a sprint, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the large, complex problem at hand, the ideal team members to address the issue, and the prerequisites that must be fulfilled. Additionally, a facilitator should be in place to manage the logistics of the sprint. The final step is to assemble the necessary personnel and prepare them for the tasks ahead.

Han suggests that it is important to identify the key stakeholders in the decision-making process, including the CEO or company owner, heads of marketing and sales, customer service, and customer success. Additionally, the individual who will ultimately be responsible for verifying the chosen solution with customers should be identified.

Once you have your core team together, you should meet in a big conference room equipped with whiteboards and the materials listed above.

Second, Establish a Beginning of the Sprint and Analyse and Define It.

At the start of the sprint, it is important to provide an overview of its purpose and goals. To gain a better understanding of the company’s and the client’s priorities, it is essential to consult with the Chief Executive Officer and a Customer Service Specialist. During the brainstorming session, it is beneficial to use markers and post-it notes to document ideas and reformulate the topics that were addressed during the interviews into potential solutions in the “How Might We” format. Afterwards, the ideas should be categorised by their respective topics, as demonstrated in the accompanying image.

Third, Settle on some Ideas and Make a Call.

In the subsequent phase, the participants are encouraged to undertake a range of design-thinking tasks in order to come up with ideas and draught prototypes. Ha has developed a particular method to use during sprints, which is as follows:

  1. Wild 8s: Participants fold a piece of paper into eight squares, each containing a different version of one of their finest ideas (one minute per sketch).
  2. In a gallery: Everybody displays their drawings on the walls like they’re at an art museum.
  3. Temperature Distribution Diagram In silence, sprint participants peruse the drawings and place sticky notes next to the ones they find promising.
  4. Rapid-Fire review: Before coming to a conclusion, the group takes part in a discussion involving the swift evaluation of the proposed ideas, with the most controversial ideas being thoroughly discussed and dissected.

Phase 4: Verifying the Correctness of the Final Product

Finally, a prototype of the finalised solution should be developed and tested with potential users through five to seven interviews. Through these interviews, user reactions to the prototype in action can be evaluated to determine if the solution has been successfully verified. If it has, the development stage can begin. If not, it may be necessary to go back to the drawing board and make modifications, or to simply make some adjustments.

Would you like to gain further insight into an actual design sprint that Ha has implemented? If so, you can learn more about the details for running a successful design sprint by taking a look at her entire presentation. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make your upcoming design sprint the best one yet!

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