18 May Introduction to Design Sprinting at Enterprises

The problem most companies are facing nowadays is quite straightforward: how to stay relevant to their customers. This seems to be the number one question that enterprises should really worry about. And if they don’t, some innovative startup in their industry will. Fortunately, most companies have plenty of ideas up their sleeves. The challenge however is to pick the best ones.

Make something people want

The power of innovation got considerable attention in recent years, but for many it remains a misunderstood process. There’s still a sense that innovation is a mysterious mix of luck, the presence of an individual genius and a brilliant idea. And sure, creative ingenuity and intuition as well as accidental discoveries, are part of the innovation formula. But there’s a way to engineer for innovation success. A Design Sprint is a flexible product design framework that serves to maximize the chances of making something people want. The process is very flexible and can adapt to different teams and needs.

Work like a fast-moving startup

Even enterprises that have well-established processes may look to a Design Sprint as a way to accelerate their product design and development so they can work more like a fast-moving startup. The accelerated learning can give the enterprise an advantage and also reduce the amount of resource investments for exploration of product ideas and concepts. Spending three to five days on a project idea to see if it makes sense to move forward is better than working three to five months, only to find that it would have been better to not proceed at all.

Developed by Jake Knapp at Google Ventures (GV), it’s a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more. All combined, it’s an intense effort conducted by a small team, where the results will set the direction for a product or service. Sprints can be measured in different ways, from the number of “good” ideas generated, team alignment, company direction, and even halting a project.

Here’s how it works

The Design Sprint is a way to solve critical business questions in only five days using design, prototyping and feedback from real customers.

  • On the first day of the sprint, the team shares insights to get everybody up to speed and you will create a simple user journey.
  • During Sketch day, the team will work individually to draw as many detailed solutions on paper as possible.
  • By Wednesday, you’ll have to narrow down, make tough decisions and draw a visual storyboard.
  • You’ll spend Thursday building an entire visual prototype that feels like your product is already there.
  • On the last day, the prototype is being tested with customers to find out whether your idea is actually adding value.

A Sprint reduces the risk of downstream mistakes and generates vision-led goals the team can use to measure their success. Any product or product feature will be validated or invalidated. You can do that validation, or let the market do it. Which do expect to be less expensive?

To sum things up

Design sprints enable you to

  • Clarify the problem at hand, and identify the needs of potential users
  • Explore solutions through brainstorming and sketching exercises
  • Distill your ideas into one or two solutions that you can test
  • Prototype your solution and bring it to life
  • Test the prototype with people who would use it
  • Get the validation needed to maximize the chances of creating something people actually want

If we look at each individual case of success in business innovation, there appears to be a pattern emerging. What we see is that most innovations do not only come from inherent, brilliant individuals, but by working in a structured and delineated way. So, stop the endless-debate cycle and compress months of time into a single design sprint week!

This post was previously published on the Go Weekly Blog.