Design Sprint Explained – I LIKE ART

Design Sprint 101

How can you make the most out of 1 week of project management and to save money?

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Design Sprint is a recently new, yet very successful strategy applied by all kinds of businesses to their project management. It still sounds a little bit vague, doesn’t it? Well, we are here to clarify every step of the process for you once and for all!

Some call it a business strategy, others appeal to the behavioral nature of the approach, while some seem to think of design sprints as a more advanced form of design thinking. In fact, it has a little bit of each, which explains the technique’s success.

So, what is Design Sprint?

It is, indeed, very simple. Design Sprint is an approach that allows you to get the most informative results in the shortest periods of time with the lowest financial investment. The technique has been coined by GV team and today it is used by some of the world’s most successful companies from different backgrounds.

In a nutshell, it is a speed-date technique in business that forces you to do the impossible and run each tiny aspect of the product as if it was a complete order within 5 days. That includes everything – the idea, the production, the testing, and the presentation.

How implementing Design Sprint turns you into a Project Management God

They say God has created the world in 6 days. So Design Sprinters don’t see why they can’t complete a simple project in 5. And here’s how we do it:

  • Day 1 – Understanding the problem.

This is where you assemble the team, define your long-term goal and try to brainstorm as many crucial elements of this problem as possible. Finally, once you have the general idea of what different steps will need to be taken in order to complete the task – choose just one and focus on it for the rest of the sprint.

  • Day 2 – Drafting the solutions.

You’ve probably heard that the chain is only as strong as its weakest link and that your team is as smart as each of the members within it. Well, it’s time to use it! Draft as many solutions to that specific step selected yesterday, note them down, let every member of the sprint team speak their mind, and work together to make sure not a single way to approach the problem is left unknown. This is the brainstorming in its best!

Also, it’s time to think ahead and start planning the meeting you will hold on the last day of the sprint, so here’s where Design Thinking applies – think of your potential customers, their needs, their desires, and preferences. Run short research. And start contacting people who will join your experiment at the end of the week.

  • Day 3 – Decision-making.

Great, you have a whiteboard full of drafts and every team member claiming that their solution is the best one. It’s time to save the world from this chaos. At this stage you will look at all the amazing work you did yesterday and select only those options which can be turned into a testable hypothesis. And then, when your dozens of solutions are limited to a feasible number – analyze each of them and choose The One that stands the best chance to be most helpful in achieving your long-term goal. 

  • Day 4 – Creating the prototype.

This step is rather self-explanatory. You have done enough mind work, now it’s time to put theory into practice. Try to actually make what you’ve planned out so far. The good news is that you don’t have to make a complete project. Instead, just focus on the surface. Make sure that the prototype talks the talk because walking the walk will be the issue for another sprint. Test it, double-check that everything looks and feels the way it should and – that’s about it.

Well, kind of. You also have a big meeting coming up tomorrow, remember? So, given that you worked hard the past 3 days and organized everything properly, it’s time to prepare the actual set of questions, put all those water bottles on the table, and rehearse the big smile you will wear (as a team).

  • Day 5 – Receiving feedback.

This is the D-Day – the time when you get to know if the entire week you spent on this was not wasted for nothing. And there is no better way to tell it other than to ask those who will be directly affected by your final creation. It’s time you run some actual tests with some actual people! Think of it as a focus group, where you gather a few of the potential customers, provide them with your dear prototype and prepare to listen.

It’s cool if you have a possibility to actually record the meeting in any way, but more often than not it’s not possible. So instead be an active listener and ask someone else from your team to take notes. You need to care about every reaction, comment, suggestion, or question any of the people present at the meeting may have. Then smile again, thank them for their time, and analyze all the priceless information you just received.

And most importantly, don’t let all this priceless information to disappear into the void of indifference – try to apply as much of it as possible to your future prototypes to make your final big project the best version of itself!

And there you go!

In 5 days you managed to be more productive than some companies manage to be in a month. You avoided some large debate and saved money. How? Well, while you may actually need to pay the test group (unless you’re producing, let’s say, chocolate – I’m sure there wouldn’t be an issue to find some eager volunteers to share their opinions for free), it is still way cheaper to finance a sample test instead of investing all into the final Big Project that may – eventually – fail due to the lack of testing.

Just in one week you have decided on some of the most crucial steps in launching the new product, service, or whatever else you’re doing; you created enough materials to facilitate the improvement of the Version 1.0; you actually developed a real-life prototype of the thing and even had a chance to hear people’s first reaction to it! Moreover, your team is now probably closer than ever (brainstorming and all) and you need to go and buy some new office supplies because you just ran out of those sticky notes around Day 3 of the Sprint.