Hacking Sketch Boards for rapid solutions

A quick tip for getting from ideas to solutions in 2 hours during your design sprints.

There are lots of tools for getting chosen ideas to low fidelity solutions, but a big challenge seen in design sprints is ideating at volume and prioritising quickly to build out solutions in that week for customers.

If you’re struggling with getting to good solutions, it’s probably quantity, not the quality you need to address.

Crazy-8’s + Themes

Take what you know with Crazy8s and instead of building out 8 amazing solutions you’re going to instead just thrash out AS MANY squares as you can in 5 minutes. The rules are all the same but the goal is just to visualise up to idea stage.

A team of four trying this for the first time should produce roughly 100 ideas over three themes.

Using themes

Because sketching at speed is very mentally intensive the easiest way for a team to ideate is through 5-minute time-boxes on agreed priorities for customers is using a theme per session. At Leancup we have 50 themes as a starter pack, based on the type of team or product we bring to market. Here are our top 5:

Before you begin: Again define the customer segment, problem space and top jobs to the group.

  1. Unboxed — Everything you can imagine could be the solution for our customers in line with our vision. We like to do these 8s first because if people have confirmation bias or pet solutions they walked in with we get these out of the way and unblock more innovation from the group.
  2. Solving the top jobs — Focus on the functional jobs first to warm the brain up, then move to the intangible social jobs we’re setting for the solution to address; you must build beyond the needs that are only functional
  3. Magic Wand — You have unlimited money/time/resource, fast forward a few years, what have we brought to market. It’s important that most people will just paint their own success, great teams try to paint the future for their customers from a customer perspective.
  4. Advise, Educate, Communicate — Let’s break out of the imminent pains/gains and look at the long tail of the customer journey. Solutions for those about to take on the job we’re hired to do or firmly relying on us to do that job well
  5. MVP — What’s the viable aspect of our first version. Either build from your existing 8s the bundle that feels most valuable or design skinny viable versions of your best ideas.

At the end of each theme, each person in the group needs to hold up their masterpiece and explain what each square is, before starting another theme write one or two words to title each square so you anchor what the idea is.

Building a Sketch Board or Idea Gallery

At the end of your session, you will have between 50–150 ideas depending on group size, it’s important to note that as we’re employing divergent thinking everyone’s ideas will be at a different stage, some will be just a fuzzy concept, others completely formed ready for prototyping… None of this is a problem as we’re looking to converge on the best squares and iterate as a group to things we feel are worthy of prototyping.

Take every page of 8s and tac them up to your nearest wall. Employ dot voting and ask for clarification on any squares that seem a mystery to you. Once you have a shortlist of 5-10 these need to be taken out and mapped to each of the jobs you’re offering to do for the customers. Timeboxing here is really important you, give only 60-minutes for the group to work through the solutions they feel are more valuable and distill them down to the package you feel meets the needs of your customers and could be a tested MVP over the next few days.

This could be 1 solution but don’t discount having 10 depending on your proposition, building a next-generation bank has a lot of jobs to be ‘viable’ for your customers, no one will validate a purely minimal bank (fore-mostly the regulators).

Once you have the bundle of products and services that make up your value proposition you can add these to a value map and complete the VP Canvas and then move on to building out an experiment that tests if you have the right bundle for a disruptive MVP!

If you like this rapid style of working check out Google Ventures Sprint Methodology, it pulls together all the lean thinking of the last 10 years