Thanks for an interesting read, Jonathan Courtney. Depending on the need and problem, using design sprints instead of the more intensive research you mentioned is perfectly reasonable. I’ve seen this approach work very well in some instances, such as when creating a new feature for an existing product.
It’s great to see that you still include testing in your outline. And while not a super intensive, up-front method, I think most folks would still consider it user research. :)
Also, for people that try this out, it’s important to remember that evaluative methods (like usability) inherently limit users to what you have created, wheres as generative research is great at identifying, prioritizing, and validating problems.
In usability testing, people naturally focus on what they see instead of what could be. And if an important problem isn’t addressed in the design, users, in my experience, often choose not to bring it up, assume it will be addressed later, or forget about it to focus on the test.
So, from my perspective, if you have already know the correct problems to solve (from your user’s POV), then skipping generative research might be work really well.
But if you have identified the wrong ones, then it’s highly possible to design a product that tests incredibly well, but still might not gain traction because it isn’t addressing the right things.