The term ‘design sprint’ is a bit of a buzzword that is thrown around a lot in the corporate, design and innovation world. So, what exactly is a design sprint? A design sprint is a fast-paced, collaborative, structured approach to making progress on big problems quickly. It’s a method that’s been used and proudly adopted by leading innovators like Google, Uber, Twitter, Facebook, The New York Times and Airbnb to solve problems, redesign business strategies and apply innovation to everyday processes.
A design sprint consists of five key stages that participants will always through. The sprint will begin with the mapping of the problem and convergence of choosing a target market, from there solutions will begin to be sketched out and their feasibility will be talked about, then a decision on the best solution will be made and the building of the prototype begins which will then allow feedback to be given based on the testing of the prototype. What makes a design sprint so versatile is that these stages of the sprint can run anywhere from a day to a week or even stretched over months.
While the term might be overused, there’s no denying that design sprints really do get results – when used right. The first and most important benefit of a design sprint is its clear and sequential problem-solving structure, which allows teams to work through a problem, design a solution and test its results all within a short period of time.
A second key benefit is the gift of focus; design sprints bring together a team of problem-solvers and invite them to clear their calendars and focus solely on the problem at hand. This enables deeper engagement than most of us can manage in a busy and complex workplace.
Third, design sprints are valuable for their versatility. The design sprint framework can be applied to a plethora of problems and opportunities across various sectors and industries, making it a useful approach in almost any innovation context.
And finally, design sprints are also a great team building exercise that helps different departments within organisations to work in a collaborative way and come up with solutions to problems that call on all of their unique skillsets. Even if the ideas generated aren’t implemented, the process helps to unlock innovation and confidence within a team.
So now you understand what a design sprint is and the benefits they can offer – but how do you know when a design sprint is appropriate?
It’s important to recognise that a design sprint is not a one-size-fits all solution to any problem. Not every problem needs a design sprint and knowing when a design sprint is or isn’t the right fit is as important as knowing how to run one.
Here are some of our tips when you’re deciding whether to run a design sprint:
When a problem is too small – sometimes bigger is better! Make sure that you have a problem that is big enough to allow people room to be creative and really enjoy having fun building big solutions to match the problems.
Give yourself time - despite being called a design sprint, it’s a process that should be fun and enjoyable for participants and facilitators. Diamonds aren’t always made under pressure and therefore you should make sure that your problem doesn’t have a tight time constraint.
Prototyping is the MVP – make sure that you have a problem that will have a solution that can be prototyped. Half the fun of a design sprint is getting creative and taking your solution from theory to practise with a tangible prototype.
We hope this article has given you some good tips on understanding and getting the most out of a Design Sprint, if you’d like to learn how to you can design and run your own Design Sprint then sign up to our free upcoming SkillGym – How to Run a Design Sprint.
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