Scaling Design Sprints for Design Transformation
Design Sprint Series Article 4 of 6
Article 3 of this series explored the fundamental tenets of an innovative culture. This next article builds upon this foundation to provide a strategic overview on how we are scaling Design Sprints across our organization to drive design transformation, empower teams, and continue to foster a culture of innovation. Specifically, through the successful implementation of our sprint team structure, tiers and facilitator training, we have successfully implemented 21 sprints since March of 2017.
We recently adopted the Spotify modern-matrix of self-organizing teams. The basic unit of this formation is Squads, which are small purpose-driven, cross-functional teams with end-to-end responsibilities. Squads are organized into Communities that work on a related product area. Our Squads are given autonomy when solving problems and remain aligned to the overall Community mission and strategy. Design Sprints work within our structure to leverage Design Thinking principles as an innovation catalyst to strategically balance the constraints of desirability, viability, and feasibility. Additionally, our Design Sprint teams add a layer of flexibility and speed.
To successfully align our teams and strategy, we created our mission statement:
The Home Depot Design Sprint team facilitates change through collaboration and human-centered design. This process allows the Interconnected Retail team to work autonomously on innovative solutions with minimal risk. Moreover, interdisciplinary teams ladder up to The Home Depot Inline Innovation strategy that aligns with overall business objectives. By fostering a shared vision and alignment, we uncover risks upfront, fail-fast through learning and quickly validate/invalidate assumptions.
The mission statement helps teams map back to the overall program initiative to ensure program integrity and vision. Under our model, we are currently focusing on Squad-level Design Sprints. Our Squad-level Design Sprints operate within one E2E autonomous, single-mission squad or across multiple squads. Additionally, we leverage discipline-agnostic facilitators (labeled in the image below as DSF’s) to foster a holistic company lens. These Design Sprints have an immediate impact on our customer-facing solutions. The key drivers here are alignment, hypothesis testing, and speed-to-market. Currently, we are executing an average of 2–4 of these per month.
Socialization and Facilitation Efforts
We kicked off our Design Sprint socialization strategy in parallel to our realignment strategy. 2017 was a crucial year for building program momentum, case studies, and leadership support. Throughout the year we met with key leaders to discuss how our program would best suit their goals. Through these discussions, we identified speed-to-market, alignment, and experimentation as the key drivers for this initiative. Additionally, we activated this framework within the discovery process of a new product or service. Our program has extended itself past the Interconnected Retail team into other parts of the organization. Most recently, we have partnered with several groups across the company to work on a variety of projects spanning digital, voice AI, and physical objects. All of these successful partnerships continue to stress test and evolve our program as we iterate, ideate and scale Design Sprints as the catalyst for design transformation within one of the largest retail brands on the planet.
Our Design Sprint Facilitators are at the heart of implementing Design Thinking and Design Sprints within our organization. These leaders oversee and facilitate the entire Design Sprint process — from pre-work, sprint, to debrief/aftercare. Facilitators also help teams investigate complex problems and explore solutions. They drive iterations of our Design Sprint framework and facilitate additional problem-solving sessions. They are leaders in collaboration and emotional intelligence as they must effectively negotiate conflict and lead teams through the Design Sprint process while maintaining both neutrality and an unbiased position. Additionally, effective faciliatiors have experience navigating and collaborating with interdisciplinary team and the ability to think their feet while working expertly under tight deadlines.
Since Design Sprint Facilitators are the integral role of our program, we have implemented a robust training program to build our team successfully. Precisely, this program consists of tiered training courses, participation, and retrospectives with leadership. Through ongoing conversations, we continue to refine our framework and tools as we scale these leaders across the organization.
Design Sprint Tiers
Lastly, as we became more mature in our model, we looked to modify the Design Sprint framework to meet the needs of our organization. Time constraints and problem-framing were critical areas of refinement. To mitigate these challenges, we worked with our User Research team to create a tiered Design Sprint offering within our project intake process. We base our tiers on the User Research inputs, problem-statement and Design Sprint outcomes. Each level offers an approach for solving the unique set of challenges within The Home Depot. Specifically, we have instituted a 1-Day Problem-Framing, 3-Day Design Sprint and 5-Day Design Sprint baseline for our Program. These sprint tiers streamline the intake process by requiring specific research inputs and sprint outputs to each level. This provides guardrails to the intake process by ensuring that each full-phase Design Sprint is supported by user research.
These workshops are ideal for projects with little to no user research inputs. Specifically, the team is looking to test an idea or hypothesis. This agenda goes through the first three Design Sprint phases, Investigation, Ideation and Focus. Post-sprint, the team makes a value assessment + LOE decision on next steps (3-Day Design Sprint or done). Additional sprint outputs are roadmap prioritization, user research prioritization (to help further scope the problem-space) and a strategy deck.
Value Proposition Canvas
We are currently testing the VPC as a tool for creating targeted problem-statements ahead of the Design Sprint. It is used to identify fit between Customer Segment + Value Map and teams must have the correct UXR inputs based on tier level below.
3-Day Design Sprint
This agenda goes through each of the five phases in a condensed timeline and is the sweet spot for our culture. The user research inputs for this sprint are three or more of the following: User Testing Protocol, Survey Data, Customer Insights, Data Analytics and a Cautious Value Proposition Canvas. At the end of the sprint, the team delivers low-fidelity prototype(s)/wires, value assessment + LOE, roadmap prioritization and debrief deck.
5-Day Design Sprint
This agenda is the main one derived from Google Ventures and used for larger-scale projects. The user research inputs for this sprint are JTBD and Confident Value Proposition Canvas. At the end of the sprint, the team delivers high-fidelity prototype(s)/wires, value assessment + LOE, roadmap prioritization and debrief deck.
Each of these session styles are adaptive to reflect the individual project scope and deliverables. Our product and PMO partners are also helping improve our roadmap and provide additional business inputs for our Design Sprint Tiers.
Now that we have discussed how we are using this foundation to scale design sprints within our Interconnected Retail team, we will take a deeper dive into the fundamental differences between the D&F Process and our Design Sprint Program. Keep an eye out for the next article and thank you for reading. Comments and feedback are always appreciated.
How design sprints are flexing for success — Google I/O 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awKVQUcku4A