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November 25, 2021

The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide For Design Sprint Beginners

The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide For Design Sprint Beginners

So What Is A Design Sprint?

The Design Sprint framework is a step-by-step process for answering crucial questions through prototyping and testing ideas with consumers. It was originally created by Jake Knapp of Google Ventures.

As Knapp describes in his NY Times Best-Selling book Sprint, Design Sprints are like a collection of “greatest hits” from business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design, and more. And it’s all packaged into a 5-day step-by-step process that any team can use.

The four-day version of the Sprint — Design Sprint 2.0 — was created by us after running hundreds of Sprints and identifying ways of making exercises more effective. The only update approved by Sprint-inventor Jake Knapp, Design Sprint 2.0 shaves an entire day off the process so the team arrives at a tested solution in just four days! Read all about how Design Sprint 2.0 works here, or watch this handy video (straight out of our Design Sprint Masterclass)

Design Sprint Needs Assessment and Selling It

Hey, we get it, sales can be hard. Maybe it’s just not your thing, maybe your team is not on board with trying out new ways of working, or maybe you’ve simply never done it before and don’t know where to start.  The thing is, getting buy-in before running a Sprint is crucial for its success. Otherwise, you run the risk of continually having to deal with skeptics and low engagement levels from your team.

To sum up, our top tips on how to sell a Design Sprint are:

  • Focus on finding a solution to their problem, not on trying to sell the Sprint. It might be tempting to pump your own tires and babble on and on about how great the process is, but that won’t get you far. Focussing on the team’s needs, on the other hand, will build rapport and ensure you’re running a Sprint when it’s needed, not just for the sake of it.
  • Unearth the real challenge. Ask open-ended questions like, “What does the typical user journey look like? What’s working well, what’s not?” The point is not to stump the decision-maker, but rather to discover the root causes and understanding the whole problem. Once you know these answers, which is really a gap analysis, you’ll use that information in your pitch to conduct a Design Sprint. If the gap is big and painful enough, it would be crazy not to pursue a solution.
  • Show, don’t tell. If the team you’re pitching to has never tried out workshops, they simply might not realize how effective this way of working is. We recommend starting small, with an easy workshop based on the principles of Design Sprint –  Lightning Decision Jam. Running an LDJ before selling a client on a Sprint has worked for us in 99% of the cases, so we highly recommend giving this one a try.
  • Focus on tangible outcomes. With Design Sprint, you’re not trying to sell a flimsy methodology that has no tangible outcomes: you will have a high-fidelity prototype that’s been tested on users by the end of just four days! Having direct user feedback to a potential business solution is highly valuable for any company which doesn’t want to waste time and money, so focus on the tangibility of the method, and the buy-in is guaranteed.

Crucial Conversations And Research before the Design Sprint

Before the Design Sprint, you have to initiate crucial conversations with key stakeholders to justify a Sprint and to coordinate the right parties to make it work.

Lots of careful research is needed before any Sprint and the following is a list of conversations and tasks to practically guarantee success in your workshop. In some of the items below, you will do this task again when the appropriate Sprint day asks for it. However, you want to go into day one with some of these ideas already starting to take form. Yes, they’ll likely change during the Sprint, but this helps you wrap your head around each unique project.

The Team — You’ll need to have an early conversation with the Decider of the Sprint – the person who will make the final call and decisions (often the business owner, CEO, or product manager). You’ll also need a team of experts and stakeholders in the company to participate in the Sprint.

The Decider can help you assemble this team. Your goal is to assemble a diverse group, to get a wholesome picture of the challenge. Here are some examples of who you might have in that team: the CEO, CTO, CMO, Head of Design, Product Manager, Marketing Manager, Sales Rep, Customer Service Rep, etc. A good rule of thumb is to try to keep your team size under 7 people: bigger groups still can run successful Sprints but are substantially harder to manage.

The Challenge — Make sure you clearly understand the challenge the organization needs to solve. What are you trying to achieve? What is the main challenge? What are the top 3 questions you want to be answered in the Sprint? Even though the challenge gets decided on in the process of the Sprint, it’s good to have a starting point.

The Long-Term Goal — Begin with the end in mind. If you did everything right in the Sprint, you should be well on the path to achieving your long-term goal. Ask your team, “Why are we doing this project? Where do we want to be in six months, a year, or even five years from now?” These questions are very important, so don’t expect them to be easy.

No matter what everyone agrees upon, the Design Sprint is the first step to helping you achieve this long-term goal. Along the way, you’ll accumulate some early wins as well such as your user-validated prototype.

The Map — This is basically the customer journey pathway. Map out the touchpoints from someone starting off as a complete stranger and then becoming a paying customer with the deliverable. Again, while this is an exercise in the Sprint, having a template that the team can fill in (as opposed to a blank whiteboard) helps them get going.

The perfect Design Sprint room is a bit like an incubator. You want a controlled environment that’s conducive to production. You don’t want noise coming in from the outside.

Next Steps

And there you have it–you’re all set to go out there and try running a Sprint on your own! Just like with any other skill, practice makes perfect. You’re not going to become a world-class facilitator without trying your hand at a few SPrints first, so the best thing to do right now is to go out there and start facilitating! Get a few of Sprints under your belt and you’ll not only future-proof your career as a VIP employee, but you’ll achieve incredible breakthroughs as well. Good luck to you!

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