Facebook EmaiInACirclel
Design Sprint

The Design Sprint Workshop: Creating Solutions (Part 2)


How was your light lunch?

It’s a good thing you went easy on those brownies because this first afternoon of the design sprint workshop is going to be intense. Seriously.

But let’s first recap. This morning, we came up with How Might We questions. We voted on which to prioritize, and the Decider created the sprint questions from the top 3 HMW questions.

Finally, we made a map of our customer’s interactions with our product or service.

(Still not sure what is a design sprint? Check this out before going any further.)

Sketching solutions at a Pentalog Design Sprint Workshop


Looking for solutions

At this point, it’s important to remind everyone that a design sprint can’t try to solve a very large problem, like world peace. It should deal with a problem big enough to justify the expense while circumscribed enough so that concrete solutions can spring from the workshop.

We have spent the morning understanding the problem. It’s time to start finding solutions.

Now, get your computer, tablet, or phone; we have work to do.

Wait, our phones?

Yes, the first step is to look elsewhere to see how others have solved similar problems. Find products and services that could suggest how you can tackle your problem.

“Everything you review should contain something good you can learn from. It’s not helpful to review crummy products,” writes Jake Knapp in his book Sprint.


Lightning demos

“When we look for solutions applied for some other products or services, it helps us think about what we could do in a very concrete manner, explains Jeff Mignon, Pentalog’s Chief of Growth. And it reminds us that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel to get us moving forward.”

The lightning demos are just a very efficient way to go through solutions applied elsewhere and get inspired by them.

For the lightning demos, each participant will explain to the others the top one or two ideas she or he has found. It’s called “lightning” because each one of the participants has three minutes. Ready?

“Your three-minute Lightning Demos will go by quickly, and you don’t want to rely on short-term memory to keep track of all the good ideas. Remember the “Always be capturing” mantra and take notes on the whiteboard as you go. Start by asking the person who’s giving the tour, “What’s the big idea here that might be useful?” Then make a quick drawing of that inspiring component, write a simple headline above it, and note the source underneath.” (Jake Knapp, Sprint)

After the demos, it’s time to create sketches.


I sketch, you sketch. Yes, even you.

Why sketch?

Because it’s the best way for everyone to focus on concrete solutions. Jake Knapp explains it perfectly:

“We’re not asking you to sketch because we think it’s fun. We’re asking you to sketch because we’re convinced it’s the fastest and easiest way to transform abstract ideas into concrete solutions. Once your ideas become concrete, they can be critically and fairly evaluated by the rest of the team—without any sales pitch. And, perhaps most important of all, sketching allows every person to develop those concrete ideas while working alone.”

The idea is not to create the next Mona Lisa or Escher. You simply have to use words, boxes, and scribbles to creates a sketch to illustrate your solutions.

In his book Sprint, Jake Knapp provides these rules:

  1. Make it self-explanatory, because you want everyone to understand it the next day.
  2. Keep it anonymous to make it easy to critique and pick the best ideas.
  3. Ugly is okay, but it has to be detailed.
  4. Words matter, because it will explain your idea more than anything else.
  5. Give it a catchy name to draw attention to your sketch.


A four-step approach to sketching

“People are often scared at the thought of having to create sketches, says Pentalog’s Jeff Mignon. But they should not be. Just like you don’t need to be creative to participate in a “design” sprint, you don’t need to be an artist to create solution sketches. We provide participants we a process to do it.”

That process is our 4-step approach:

  1. Write down notes
  2. Find rough ideas
  3. Try variations
  4. Go into the details


This approach will help you play with your ideas and visualize solutions. The first three steps are work that you do “alone together.”

Let’s go into the details of each step.


Step one: writing down ideas

Design Sprint Sketching step one

Look around you: on the wall are post-its notes and whiteboards filled with what you have discussed up to now. All you have to do is look at these and take rough notes.

This first step serves as a refresher to get you ready for the next step.

What should you write down?

Anything that you think might be useful.

And if you need to, you’re allowed the use of your laptop to look at reference material. Enjoy the moment because, at the end of this step, your phone or laptop will close again.


Step two: find rough ideas

Design Sprint Sketching step two

Alone together, each participant comes up with ideas. Here’s how it works:

“In this step, each person will jot down rough ideas, filling a sheet of paper with doodles, sample headlines, diagrams, stick figures doing stuff—anything that gives form to his or her thoughts. It doesn’t matter if these ideas are messy or incomplete. Just like the notes, these pages won’t be shared with the whole team. Think of them as a “scratchpad.” And there’s no wrong way to do it. As long as everyone is thinking and writing stuff on paper, you’re on the golden path.” (Jake Knapp, Sprint)

At the end of the exercise, everyone will quickly circle her or his favorites ideas.


Step three: try variations

Design Sprint Sketching step three

With this step, let the fun begin!

Jake Knapp calls this exercise the “Crazy 8s”. The idea is to sketch eight variations of an idea in eight minutes. Each participant does that with his or her strongest idea.

Even if we’re saying it’s a fun exercise and it’s called Crazy 8s, this is serious. It’s brainstorming but with solid ideas and solutions.

Here are the instructions, straight from the guy who formalized the design sprint approach, Jake Knapp:

“Each person begins Crazy 8s with a single sheet of letter-size paper. Fold the paper in half three times, so you have eight panels. Set a timer to sixty seconds. Hit “start” and begin sketching—you have sixty seconds per section, for a total of eight minutes to create eight miniature sketches. Go fast and be messy: As with the notes and ideas, Crazy 8s will not be shared with the team.”


Step four: go into details

Design Sprint Sketching step four

Our friends at AJ&Smart call this the “3-step concept”. It’s a descriptive name for what will come out of this last step.

“The main purpose of this 3-step concept is to organize your ideas, even if people still have not organized all of their ideas […], and organize them into a clear story.” (AJ&Smart.)

The three-panel sketches are useful because they illustrate this story. But it happens that sketches will only cover one step, the one part of the customer experience that the design sprint is trying to improve.


Decorate the room with the sketches

After everyone has done this last sketching, the group will discuss each solution sketch created. But I’m getting ahead of myself: this is for day 2 of the workshop.

For now, everyone should post their sketches on the walls of the meeting room.

Design Sprint Sketching Solutions

Design Sprint Sketching Solutions

That’s it. You’re done for the day!

And if you feel like it, why not congratulate your teammates and yourself by opening a beer or a bottle of wine!

But make sure you get a solid night of sleep. As Bob Dylan sang, tomorrow, a hard rain’s gonna fall (OK, it’s not going to be that bad, but anyone could use a little of Bob’s music, right?)

If you can’t wait to find solutions to your problems with a design sprint, call us right now.

If you can’t wait to find solutions to your problems with a design sprint, call us right now.

The Design Sprint Workshop series:

The Design Sprint Workshop: Defining the Challenge (Part 1)
The Design Sprint Workshop: Creating Solutions (Part 2)
The Design Sprint Workshop: Voting Day (Part 3)
The Design Sprint Workshop: The Storyboard (Part 4)
The Design Sprint Workshop: Prototyping (Part 5)
The Design Sprint Workshop: Testing (Part 6)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *