Becoming a master facilitator — Udacity’s Design Sprint Foundations Day 1

5 min readJan 24, 2018

With a burst of free time on my hands, I decided to embark on Udacity’s new Design Sprint Foundations course ( I had read Knapp’s book on Sprints, but had never done one myself. And if you’re not familiar with Udacity, the goal is to accomplish a course with modules made up of short videos and assignments.

The higher price tag of the program ($300) is for a human to grade your projects and answer questions. In the end, I was glad for the extra support because I dropped off 8 days after getting in the course’s first module and the person to remind me (read: bug me!) to check in and complete my assignments was my reviewer.

The teachers are varied. Unfortunately, the infamous Jake Knapp wasn’t in the videos. A design firm called AJ&Smart taught the lessons, Jonathan for Day 1 and 2, Michael for Day 3 and 4 of the design sprint, Udacity’s Kelly Howard taught how to submit assignments for grading.

The assignments were modified for the digital format and singular team member structure. Because of this, I HIGHLY recommend taking notes. Otherwise, by the end of the module, you’ve forgotten the day’s components.

Context: The course walks through an imaginary company You, facilitator-in-learning, will be executing the exercises with another fictional company “Ooup”, an online scooter rental company.

Sprint Day 1 / Itinerary

#1 Conduct Expert Interviews

The infamous “How Might We” post its for the expert’s worries.

Step 1) Write HMW in the top left of the note and go to town as an expert speaks about the company and their worries for 2 minutes. None of the team speaks while writing.

My post-its:

  1. HMW expand product awareness
  2. HMW decrease cost per unit
  3. HMW expand operation density
  4. HMW make scooters safer

Step 2) ORGANIZE post-its on the wall by section => facilitator and attendees. Speaking is allowed.

Step 3) VOTE on post-it importance — everyone gets 2 red dots.

Red dots are ideal — in lieu, I used a red sharpie.

I also didn’t have a large enough desk space for this exercise so I used a door as my whiteboard.

#2 Write long term 2 year goal

Write a long term goal in 1 sentence. This goal assumes that everything goes according to plan and there are no hiccups.

My goal: In 2 years, Ooup (imaginary online scooter rental company) will be the go-to scooter rental name more convenient than public transport.

#3 Clarify 3 sprint questions

Outline the main challenges or blockers for the long term goal. If you are in a team, vote like you did with HMW’s.

My questions: (based on a primary blocker of scooter safetey)

  1. Can we become the default name for transportation?
  2. Can we be more convenient than public transport?
  3. Can we increase safety so Ooup is safer than public transport?

#4 Draw Map of user journey

A user journey showes the entire system of your product (or the specific journey you want to focus on).

Actors are on the left (customers, company) — goal on the right (for imaginary company, that goal would be “has clean clothes)

#5 Present lightning demos

This is a short presentation from you spending 10min looking for inspiration from existing products.

My inspiration:

  1. HotelTonight app — easy interface for engaging with multiple options in app
  2. Blue Apron — easy display of multiple components within specific plan options
  3. Google Play reviews—Condensed info to determine quality of an app (parts: app reviews, rating, # of other people downloaded this app)

#6 Four Part Sketching

getting you from a blank page to a concept you’re proud of pushing. Does NOT need to be shown to any other colleagues.

Step 1) Notetaking (20 minutes)— With a notepad and clipboard in hand, note down the long term goal, sprint questions, info+inspiration out of lightning demos, sketch bits of the map. The goal is to be a copier. Inklings of ideas will come to the mind as you’re writing

Note: This part was hard for me — I didn’t have a room filled with large paper on which was written the long term goal, sprint questions, map, etc. All my documents were digital, so I had to make an effort to look at a specific item — it wasn’t just on the wall easy to access.

Step 2) Sketching (20 minutes) — start drawing. ex) draw bits of an app you’re imagining. Take your notes and scribble. Turn your small inklings into something more tangible

Step 3) Crazy 8’s (8 minutes) — fold A4 paper in half 3 times until your page has 8 cells. Set a timer for 1 minute. You should spend a max of 1 minute per paper cell. Draw out some inkling of idea!

Step 4) Final Concept (45minutes + break + 45minutes) — 3 part comic strip. Does NOT need to look pretty but DOES need to be self-explanator. You will not present your concept (the facilitator will present them all). Put clarifying post-its on the margins of your concept.

Some of my ending concept:


Make sure you do this at home and not in a coffee shop.

You’ll be re-organizing post its and if you do it like me in a coffee shop, you’ll end up skipping a few exercises (like organizing the post-its by category) which will make it harder in the next module (day 1, lesson 3)

When I got stuck in Lesson 3, I went back to Lesson 2 and re-watched those videos and took better notes.

These hands-on writing/drawing exercises are easiest to accomplish at home. Make sure you have a notepad, 3 packs of differently colored post-its, and ideally a friend.

Now onto Design Sprint Day 2 >




Founder @ EMO (Easy Mobile Onboarding). Product Teacher @GA. Co-founder @WomenWhoCodeNYC. Ex-software engineer @ Time Inc.