Design Sprint: The Startups Superpower 💪💪💪

Design Sprint: The Startups Superpower 💪💪💪

Ismail EL AZIZI - 07 July 2019

7 minutes read

Building something was never a simple thing, there are always many ideas to test and decisions to take, we get stuck on unstructured discussions and long conversations on the abstract. Thinking having a good idea isn’t enough until you test it and the best way to get people feedback is to build something that can get people interact. The question is: How can you test something as fast as possible?

Agile development process

Normally, in an Agile environment, you should build a mini version of the product, launch it, measure it and then take what you learned to iterate and improve based on it. the problem here is that you require investing a lot of money, time and effort into something that actually might not even work.

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design sprint

Design sprint is a shortcut of learning without building and launching. it cuts the path from the idea to learn, Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, design sprint gives you the superpower to fast-forward into the future to see your finished product and customer reactions before making any expensive commitments.

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Design Sprint process from Design Sprint Book

A design sprint is a five-day process Developed at GV that helps test any idea and answer critical business questions through rapid prototyping and user testing by compressing months of time into a single week.

If you are familiar with design thinking or lean development, design sprint is a practical way to apply those philosophy. The Design Sprint is a combination of Design Thinking, LeanStartup and Agile approach.

Rent before you buy!

Jake Knapp the father of design sprint and the author of the book talked about how design sprint is an implementation of the “rent before you buy” concept, By running a design sprint you are renting the idea to test it before buying it, so you learn about it without building and launching, design sprint helps you validate or invalidate ideas within a short period of time so you don’t actually put something into full production mode wasting a lot of time and resources.

When use Design Sprint

The best time to run a design sprint is before the product is created trying to validate or invalidate ideas. you can also run it to improve a part of the product or develop new features, also it is highly recommended to use it to bring alignment to the team and get ride of uncertainty.

Design sprint benefits

By running a design sprint you

  • Reduce Risk, increase speed & momentum by solving design problems quickly
  • Structure discussion and bring focus, because the looming deadline of design sprint force the team to focus
  • Align the team on a common goal: design sprint is a great collaboration tool.
  • Get user feedback before it’s too late: it allows you to fail early and get user validation faster

Prepare yourself for you first sprint

Every sprint start with defining a challenge, a team (CEO, Engineer, Designer, Marketing…) and a calendar.

Block five full days on the calendar, Stock up on post-it notes and sticky dot, whiteboards and plenty of markers, bring some healthy snacks to keep up the team’s energy. last and not least make sure No devices are allowed!

Before starting, pick a decider nd a facilitator for the sprint. Usually the decider is the head of the team (maybe the CEO) who has final say when the team is stuck. and the facilitator is someone who has experience running sprints and is in charge of keeping the sprint on track and making sure everyone is doing the right exercises.

What happens on each day of a Design Sprint?

Monday: Understand the challenge and build the map
  • start by doing the expert interview in which anyone of the team takes notes by answering questions like: what the product is? who uses the product? what is the problem the product is trying to solve? those question are a great thing to start with and bring alignment to the team.
  • Set the long term goals by asking the question: If there no problems at all, what would the product look like in 2 years time? then list all the answers.
  • List out all the risks, questions and assumptions that might prevent you from getting those goals, use the question: In trying to reach those goals, what could make us fail? .Once you’ve answered this question, turn your answers into ‘How might we’ questions.
  • Make the map of the process that shows how customers move through your product, place the actors on the left and your main goal on the right,then, write all the steps in between.
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Sprint Map from [Design Sprint Book]

Add the ‘How might we’ questions to the map to get the target for the sprint

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Map Map with the HMW Question (illustration from the Book)
Tuesday: Sketch Solutions

After you understand the problem and choose a target for the sprint, it is time to sketch solutions for your problem, but before, it is very helpful to have a review of the existing ideas.

Great innovation is built on existing ideas

Then, instead of a shout out loud group brainstorm, each person will sketch his/her detailed solutions on his/her own following a four-step process that emphasizes critical thinking over artistry.

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Sketch four-step process from [Design Sprint Book]

As well in this day you’ll also begin planning Friday’s customer test by recruiting customers that fit your target profile.

Wednesday: Decide which path to take

By Wednesday morning, you and your team will have a bunch of solutions. It’s great, but it’s also a problem because you can’t prototype and test them all, you need to pick the best solution. so instead of endless debate, in design sprint we use a structured decision making process relays on vote (Super Vote).

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Super Vote from [Design Sprint Book]
Thursday: Build the prototype

you build realistic prototypes of the chosen solutions, which are just a facade of the finished product, You might think that it should take weeks or months to create a proper prototype, but the goal of the design sprint is to answer questions quickly. Don’t get caught up in perfection.

it preferable to use collaborative tools like Figma that allows you to collaborate in the same file so you can get the job done faster.

Friday: Test the solutions with real customers

“ Testing just 5 users would turn up 85% of the problems in an interface ” Jeff Sauro

By Friday you’ve created promising solutions, chosen the best, and built a realistic prototype. Now it is time to test your prototype in five one-on-one customer interviews, you will learn by watching them react to your prototype and find obviously patterns, some solutions will work, but some won’t either way you have clarity what to do next.

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User interviews from [Design Sprint Book]

Final Thought

The design sprint methodology is a structured problem-solving process, companies like Slack, Lego, Google and more use it to enter new markets and design new products features. Next time If you have a problem to solve use a design sprint to get the right insights you need before jumping into solutions putting your company at risk.

Resources:

If you want to learn more about design sprint, those are the most valuable resources:

  • Design Sprint Book by Jake Knapp, it is a complete hour-by-hour guide to run your sprint.
  • Design Sprint Kit By Google is an open-source kit for anyone who is learning or running design sprint.
  • AJ&Smart videos on Youtube, they have tons of videos about design sprint in which they facilitate the sessions and give best practices to run a successful one.


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