Virtual Design Sprint (1)

Preparing and getting ready for the sprint week

I want to share with you my experiences and learnings of this particular Design Sprint and tell you about our intention to do it.
Robert Skrobe (here is his diary) came up with the idea of a virtual design sprint in the AJ&Smart masterclass Facebook group to promote ourselves some weeks ago. At first I had no idea how this could look like but curious as I am about anything related to Design Sprints I signed up.
Three weeks ago we kicked off with a Typeform survey where we could choose one from five topics and submit additional facts including available dates. An interview the following week made the whole idea clearer and I wanted to get even more involved.

Intruducing our group E

All people from Europe who had chosen the topic “Design Sprint Referral Network” were grouped together. So I found myself with some of my masterclass fellows Fabrizio, Amer, Giovanni, Niko, and Saadia in group E.
 We started with a kickoff meeting via video chat. Unfortunately some couldn’t attend but sent us videos beforehand to give us their thoughts and good wished (which was very nice).

Our Challenges:

As an international group there where some obstacles to overcome:

  • Different time zones plus each personals’ schedule.
  • Finding and using the tools to work with (some communication tools don’t work in VAE — Saadia’s country )

Our Advantages

  • lots of combined knowledge and skillsets
  • An enthusiastic engagement of the group (this is rarely found in a normal sprint with clients)
  • The guidance of an experienced facilitator (Rob)
  • Learnings from other groups 
     …only to name some of them!

Preparation week

There are many things you have to prepare for a virtual design sprint. Choosing the right tools, engaging the participants, the schedule, organizational stuff and lots more.
Since I already completed a virtual design sprint with a client it was quite easy for me to adapt. Even so I learn a lot. It’s great to see the differences and experience how other tools work, their pros and cons, what best to use in future design sprints.
I want to give you a short overview of this week’s preparation from my point of view as a facilitator and designer. (Also Saadie and I will share the facilitator role during the sprint.)

  • Meet the group
  • Prepare a guideline for the sprint week with the schedule, the different functions and the exercises. When we meet online and when we work alone.
  • Prepare the interviews and organize the interviewees
  • Finding a name for our group (with a Brain Sprint)
  • Create a key visual for the virtual design sprint (for all groups)

Prepations of the guidelines, availabilities and roles

Having someone who helps, makes everything much easier. Thanks to Rob who already put a lot of work into the preparation (I am very grateful). I only needed to adjust his form a little and fill in the relevant information for our group (which was still quite a task).
I started with the schedule. Rob shared a doodle with us and each participant filled in his or her available time and date. See picture below.

Availabilities for the sprint week. Let’s coordinate this!

Obviously we have to be creative with juggling busy people from different time zones to fit in a joint schedule. After a few back and forth we finally managed. (BTW: did I tell you about this groups engagement?)
Our roles are quite clear and well spread: We have Facilitators, Developers, Designers, Researcher and Advisors on board. Everybody could choose his position and some of them we share or work together.
The exercises will be different in each team I guess. Rob adjusted some of the timings for the exercises from his experience with previous virtual design sprints. I changed them some more according to my experience. I’m curious to see the outcome.

A virtual design sprint is very different from a classic face to face design sprint. With a team in one room, you can adjust the timing from exercise to exercise if needed. But for the virtual design sprint, you have to plan everything in advance. It’s difficult as it is to get everyone on one schedule.

Prepare the interviews and schedule some interviewees

For the interview list, we worked all together and put the suggested questions in one document. I rearranged them again for myself and read them aloud to check if we can get through all the questions within 30 minutes. So my tip for you is to mark the most important questions and ask them at the beginning of the interview. You can’t anticipate what the interviewee will answer and how long he or she will talk, so don’t worry and be confident (getting started is more important than being right). I prefer to talk with the person and also put down some notes.

Ross Chapman in the interview

Back again- I had the talk with Ross Chapman already and it was just perfect. I used and did the recording directly with my iPhone — improvised, I know, but it worked! 
We had fun talking, he’s a such nice guy and he has lots of experience. I was looking at my interview list only at the beginning, then I got lost (did I tell you to be confident? O.k. same for me…). Ross covered most of all our questions, and I even managed to ask one question he didn’t think about before: “Where do you guess the design sprint process is headed into 2019?”
And now I still have two more interviewees: Jameel Somji (Toronto) and Adam Kassama (Stuttgart). Looking forward talking to them.

Finding a name for our group — with a Brain Sprint ;-))

Yesterday we made a quick Brain Sprint (if you want to know how this works check it out here) for finding a name for our group. We stretched the workshop a lot, put together two people and needed only 10 Minutes to get to our name: Design SprInternationals.
I hope the group will like it also!

Create a key visual for the virtual design sprint (for all groups)

Create a key visual for the virtual design sprint (for all groups)
The idea is to create a key visual for the Virtual Design Sprint group and to give each participant a package of assets and templates so that everybody can share their experience with others. I’m still working on this, so keep updated!
Did you like my report: I’m happy about some claps! Any questions? Place them in the comments, thanks!

Did you like my report: I’m happy about some claps! 
Any questions? Place them in the comments, thanks!