Exponential Sprints will change everything

Exponential design sprints can help form the high impact teams who will pursue ideas that have the potential to become real 10x projects.

Have you ever been told that your idea is too crazy, too bold or “ambitious”? Maybe it was just the look they gave you that said it all. If the answer is yes, then you and I have something in common, we like our projects — big, bold, and radical.

Like you, I really wanted to be a part of a high-impact and high-value project, so I started exploring how to make that happen. Really, how?? Unfortunately, there are so few such projects out there that it was hard to imagine how I could get to be a part of one, or even be a founder of one — I mean they’re called moonshots for a reason. They’re really hard to do and hard to come by. But more importantly, it’s impossible to go it alone — where would I get my team? Resources?

The harsh reality is that there are too few impactful projects out there to solve all of humanity’s challenges. This is because of a lack of qualified and relevant teams and a concentration of resources around such ambitious endeavors. And frankly, the world doesn't need just my one 10x project attempt. The world needs hundreds of thousands of big thinkers and problem solvers (and highly technical people) like you and I to step up to the plate and take that impossible swing — because one of us will succeed, and that one project will affect millions.

So which 10x project did I choose to join? The only one that brings together engineers, scientists, designers and beyond to create powerful teams to solve some of NYC’s toughest challenges. OK, so that itself is not exactly a moonshot project, but together we have the potential to attempt and create many 10x projects. That’s what we are trying to do at Team Exponent in NYC. These are scalable solutions to difficult problems, with the potential to affect the lives of millions of people across the cities of the world. That’s 10x thinking!

How are we doing this? Through design sprints — Exponential Sprints or Moonshot Design Sprints. We've taken the Design Sprint method and packed it down to a half-day of quick iterative sessions of ideating, graphing and prototyping, using the battle-tested process. And for us the secret sauce is in the team building itself. We bring relevant people together to cultivate thinking around problems that require 10x ideas.

How do we know this works? Because we've done it before for app development for things like wearable tech, VR/AR and IoT. Amazing projects and teams like Intellibins and CityRide were born from our past hackathons and wearables design sprints.

But how do we know this would work for 10x projects— you know, beyond apps? Because we tried it at the #NYCMoonshot Design Sprint and it was amazing — so much more so than we could have hoped thanks to the awesome participants.

On April 25th, in partnership with Google’s Solve for X, NYCEDC, and GDG North Jersey, Team Exponent hosted the first ever Moonshot Design Sprint in NYC. We received over 125 applications to attend. In the end, 13 teams formed from our hand-picked selection of participants with relevant backgrounds.

At least one of the teams is currently pursuing their idea to see if they can turn it into a sustainable 10x project — and it all started on just that one half-day sprint. These are individuals who did not know each other prior to that afternoon and did not have a 10x project at the start, but are now pursuing a potential life-changing venture.

What’s the best part? Nearly 100% of the participants said they would do the design sprint all over again. So that’s what we’re going to do, more Exponential Sprints in NYC to build teams that will bring us the solutions we desperately need.

But let’s be real. Pursuing a 10x project is not the work of one afternoon. Exponential thinking requires us to really get into a problem solving mindset and commit to years of hard work to get something going (think Elon Musk and Tesla and SpaceX). Working towards a real scientific breakthrough is not easy, but the potential rewards for society are invaluable and necessary.

These are definitely the early days, and we are learning and iterating to nail down our process to be as effective as possible. What we do know right now is that there are 3 important needs to pursuing a 10x project: (1) a problem to solve, (2) a team to work with, and (3) resources to build with.

There’s certainly no shortage of problems to solve. Creating teams is what we excel at at Team Exponent. But resources to build with — that’s what we need more of and more understanding around, and that’s what we are solving for together.

The future is real and the quality of that future depends on our pursuit of exponential projects. At Team Exponent, we want to help build teams that will make 10x solutions happen. This is our chance!