Ask anyone from a SAAS or just about any business, and they’ll tell you they feel a constant pressure to be creative. They need it to stay competitive. Or simply survive.
Yet, they feel stuck.
They feel they should be doing something, but what?
If it’s your company that’s under pressure, what do you do?
“Design sprints” can get you unstuck and moving forward. Here’s how.
What’s your problem?
Agile methodologies have helped move business practices forward. They’re helping businesses increase their velocity and adjusting quickly to a fast-moving competitive landscape.
But, every day, it’s getting more complex out there. And that’s why you may need to jumpstart your project, business, or growth.
That’s where design sprints come in.
Let’s see if one of the following scenarios apply to you:
- You need to respond to a competitor’s new bold feature.
- Your growth has stalled even though you’re doing all the right things.
- Your project has hit a dead-end, with no solution in sight.
- You need to rethink your product or business model.
- [Insert here what makes you feel stuck]
Now, let’s see how what design sprints can free you from your jam.
Agile on steroids
Design sprints are fast-thinking four-day workshops focused on one problem. Participants are limited to a small number of stakeholders. They include decision-makers because their goal is to produce concrete, actionable solutions that will be acted upon.
Design sprints borrow from Agile methodology, design and growth hacking thinking. Invented by former Googler Jake Knapp, design sprints came to light in his book, Sprints.
At Pentalog, we experimented with them and followed the lead of AJ&Smart: we reduced their format to a four-day intensive workshop with a small team. We found out five days, as proposed by Knapp, is too long: four brain-squeezing days are enough to produce concrete results. And on the fifth day, people start to look as exhausted as Bruce Willis in the movie The Fifth Element.
Design sprints are perfect tools to solve big challenges rapidly or if you need to create a new product or improve existing ones. As our friends at AJ&Smart have explained, they can be used for:
- Large software products
- Innovation products
- App design
- Web projects
- Organizational change projects
- Hardware products
- Business model validation
Design sprints are organized around a strict schedule. In four scripted days, they take the participants from an analysis of the problem to the creation and testing of a solution. Our practice of design sprints is primarily inspired by AJ&Smart.
Imagine Agile on steroids: that’s a design sprint.
What happens in four days
A design sprint is not a four-day long brainstorming session. It’s a process that takes from a problem to an actionable, tested solution. Participants should arrive with ideas that will be discussed, improved upon or transformed, and tested.
In fact, we conduct a pre-sprint interview to understand the company, its goals, and its challenges. And we ask that participants work on some aspects of the workshop before they join in.
Who is invited? At Pentalog, we have a limit of eight participants. We provide a sprint lead, a sprint support person, and a prototype expert. We adjust the composition of our team to the type of expertise the client brings to the table. If the client is a large company, for example, they could invite the product owner, the product manager, and selected marketing, sales, design, and tech team members.
#Day 1. We define the challenge and produce solutions.
We begin with outside expert interviews, then review long term goals and sprint questions before creating a map of the situation. Then we create “lightning demos” and sketches to get the group thinking about solutions. No decision is made at this stage.
#Day 2. We vote on a solution and start working on it.
In the morning, we decide on a solution. In the afternoon, we test user flow for the chosen solution and create a storyboard. We’re moving along!
#Day 3. Prototyping Day.
The third day is all about building a high-fidelity prototype, finding user tester, and scheduling testsé
#Day 4. We test the prototype and write a report.
The last day is when we have five users test our prototype. We then create a report which will set the stage for what happens next.
What could you achieve with a design sprint?
One challenge. Four days. Eight participants. One solution – tested. And we’re done.
That’s what a design sprint is: it’s a scripted process to find and create tested solutions to a real-world challenge you have.
So, what do you need to get done?