If you’re stuck or want to move a project forward, a design sprint is what you need.
Now, who should participate in the four-day process? Who should be on the 8-person team?
Let’s discuss each role and who is best fitted for the job.
The Sprint Master: a facilitator who does not need to be a designer
The Sprint Master is more than a referee: he or she has to guide the conversation and make sure everyone follows the rules.
The SM needs to ensure a proper environment for the discussions to bear fruits. For example, he needs to keep louder voices from steering the process in one direction.
The person who assumes this role doesn’t need to be an agile expert. Everyone can run a design sprint as long as they know how to do it.
All it takes is to be trained in the process. And the person has to be seen by everyone as being neutral: we recommend you choose an outsider or someone remote enough from the team or project.
Don’t go for the creative director or someone too close to the project.
The Lead Support: help for the Sprint Master
This role has one purpose: to support the Sprint Master’s job.
Desired qualifications and profile are the same as the SM’s. This person also takes on a facilitator role.
Just like the SM, this person needs to know about the methodology of design sprints, but it can be anyone.
During the week, the Lead Support will take notes, guide the participants, and assume some of the functions of the SM when needed.
The Decider: he or she who can really decide
Without a participant who has the power to make decisions, real ones, the design sprint risks becoming a futile exercise.
The whole idea of the design sprint is to get the project, team, or business moving forward. If the outcome depends on someone who’s outside the workshop, whatever the participants do might be in vain.
The Decider can be the CEO or CTO of the company. It can also be the product owner or anyone who was anointed as the Decider.
The Others: breaking the silos
The rest of the workshop team should come from all departments of the company or represent different teams within the project.
The power of the design sprint comes from the process, but also the diversity of the team.
Bringing on different people with different outlooks breaks the silos within a company or team, and frees this power. Multiple perspectives will shed new light on the project’s challenge.
Who can be brought in? Here’s a sample:
- An HR specialist.
- A financial expert.
- A customer representative.
- A marketing expert.
The team should not be larger than eight persons. If you can, it’s a good idea to recruit backups, in case someone can’t attend the meeting.
An evolving team
Not everyone needs to attend the whole four days.
For the first two, everyone should be there. On the third day, only two persons are essential for the prototyping stage.
A designer should be in charge of prototyping. If one is not available, the company facilitating the sprint could provide one (we do).
Of course, you will need to recruit from 6 to 8 outside persons to test the prototype. Make sure you reward these testers.
The secret: a self-functioning team with decision power
To get results from a design sprint, the participants themselves decide what to do during the sprint. It is also essential that no outside influence be felt on the proceedings.
If the real Decider is not on the team but decides to jump in at some point to steer the work, you might not like the results you get (or don’t get).