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Design Sprint, the method conceived by Jake Knapp in Google (revealed in 2016) and perfected in 2018 (version 2.0) by Jake Knapp together with AJ&Smart of Berlin, a method that helps to build and test every kind of idea in just 32 hours.Design Sprint


The Challenge

How many times has a project produced only paper, or has it engaged several people and lasted months before deciding to close it? Or did it last a long time to understand the right direction to take to develop it seriously? These experiences have great costs, economic costs, but above all “determination” in companies willing of innovation. In fact, the product development cycles are too long, causing the loss of enthusiasm and concentration of the teams. Many top companies have also experienced these setback.Design sprint

For the last few years, however, starting from Google and gradually in other companies (from Facebook to Revolt), a new methodology has taken hold, the Design Sprint, based on the mindset of design thinking, which makes it possible to verify in a few days the direction to be given to an important project. saving time and money.

Design Sprint is a 4-day process to quickly solve big challenges, create new products or improve existing ones. Therefore, squeeze months of work (based solely on limitless discussions) in four days. Besides that, the main value of the sprint is also to validate the idea through users test. In fact, development teams often lack real data on which to base business decisions, and decisions are often left to interminable internal discussions.

The common product development cycle does not control how customers will react until after launch. On the contrary,  Design Sprint quickly validates new ideas with user tests before investing time and money to build them.

Alignment is the unexpected big advantage of sprint design. Through intentionally designed exercises, the different stakeholders are included in the idea development process, creating commitment in the solution and bringing misalignments and misunderstandings to the minimum.

But let’s see the detail on a day by day basis.Design Sprint activities

Before the sprint begins

  • Identify the challenge (problem) to be addressed. The challenge must be big enough to justify the time of several people for a few days, quite expensive if it’s not good and something that needs to be validated quickly before starting a long work program to create it.
  • Identify the team to be involved (between 4 and 8 people) including also the decider, the person who can decide on the future of the project.
  • Define calendar, location, and facilitator (preferably certified), paying attention to all aspects of a constant commitment on the topic (including, therefore, breaks, nutrition, energy and flow of individuals), in addition to the identification of people (users) who they will have to test the prototype.

Certified facilitators already have checklists of things to ask/do to “sell” the sprint and checklists of things to do before the sprint starts. Also knowing already the critical steps of the process allowing to come with some predefined solutions in the pocket for starting “the ball run” among the participants.

Day 1

The first day is devoted to all that is needed to get an aligned understanding of the challenge we want to solve in a team. The default is that different people have different ideas about what should be done, and often does not use the time to really decide together on what problem should be focused on now. The exercises on the first day of the sprint ensure that the whole group reaches an aligned understanding of the goal/direction to which everyone aspires.

Day 2

The second day is to help the Decider make good choices and create a simple and clear way to test the idea of the chosen solution. It is important to remember that the Design Sprint is all about validating whether an idea will really solve a particular problem. All the exercises of the second day are focused on reaching the point where it will be clear what the idea is and how it can be obtained that the users (the people who will test the prototype) have authentic reactions on the idea.

Day 3

The third day is dedicated to the construction of the prototype to be tested by users and to recruit the right people who will take the test. Do not forget that the whole reason to make the prototype is to get answers to the key questions (Sprint Questions). You just have to take exactly what’s on the storyboard (defined on day 2) and make it look real enough for users to get real feedback. You do not have to create anything new! There is only 1 day, so who builds the prototype must focus on what is really important.

Day 4

The last day is devoted to the test by users. Particular attention must be paid to planning. For example, do the 1st test at the beginning of the day with flexible breaks for possible solutions on the fly; define a tight agenda in order to finish first in the afternoon to analyze and write the report with fresh feedbacks; insured 1 or 2 backup people (inform them that they are backup) in case the expected people do not show up.Design Sprint exercises

All the major companies have been using it for a long time (from Facebook to LEGO®, from Google to Microsoft, from N26 to Share the meal) and take advantage of its benefits. If you are interested in learning how Design Sprint can solve your problems (no matter if you are a startup or a large corporation) get in touch with me (I am AJ & Smart certified facilitator) and join our meetup.

Design Sprints offer a transformative formula for testing ideas that work whether you’re at a startup or a large organization. Within five [now four] days, you’ll move from idea to prototype to decision, saving you and your team countless hours and countless dollars.Eric Ries author of Lean Startup

Pics: courtesy of Nat Welch;; Aj&Smart

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