What is the Design Sprint method and why do I think it’s interesting?

What is the Design Sprint method?

  • It can be summarized very shortly in this paragraph: Design Sprint is a methodology created by Google that helps teams to resolve and test design problems in 2–5 days merging two concepts: sprints from the agile world and Design Thinking by IDEO.

In broad strokes, the process is comprised of three parts:

  • Before the sprint, the sprint master (the team leader)
  • Defines the challenge establishing in how time it has to be development
  • Prepares everything for the sprint
  • Invites the interdisciplinary team
  • During the sprint:
  • Works with the interdisciplinary team for a whole week, based on the design thinking paradigm
  • After the sprint:
  • Does everything so that the devised solution can be implemented

Why do we need an interdisciplinary team to reach the challenge in one week?

  • This allows to move forward — more effectively — than if only people from specific areas participated, as these may forget or be ignorant of important barriers, details or realities they should take into account
  • The paradigm implies sharing the ideation moment — in a democratic way — in order to move all together toward a concrete and feasible solution

What are the steps of the Sprint?

Step 1: Understanding

  • It implies understanding the problematic deeply [of the business, of the users and of the technology we have] and getting our hands dirty to understand the human beings problematic
  • Just as an overview, the most common techniques that we use are:
  • User interviews — at our offices or in their own use scenarios — to understand their contexts and their pains deeply
  • Focus groups with customers where we try to understand their needs and frustrations at each user journey step
  • Focus groups with the poor victims that receive calls in the contact center. It’s them who best know the users that call because the platform were not understandable to them
  • Surveys to understand the people’s technological context, their needs and frustrations
  • Benchmark of sites that tackle similar problematics
  • Analysis of all the site’s metrics and other things to understand both qualitatively and quantitatively what the problem is

Step 2: Defining

  • Besides understanding, the team is invited to distill and conceptualize those findings and define the design principles, in order to achieve that users end up incredibly happy
  • In this way, the interdisciplinary team will be choosing — everyone agreeing — the foundation of the design solution

Step 3: Diverging with ideas

  • In this step, the team has to diverge and to go in different directions
  • The ideation step forces the team participants’ brains to fly and find out new solution possibilities
  • This isn’t the time for everybody to think the same
  • And this isn’t the time when some people think and other people can’t say what they are thinking
  • This reminds me of Sigmund Freud’s phrase, “If two people think the same about everything, I can assure that one of them is thinking for both”
  • The most common technique that we use is Crazy 8, where each participant splits their sheet of paper in eight and writes or draws an idea on each part: in silence and individually
  • So, everybody has the possibility of expressing their ideas writing or drawing

Step 4: Decide which idea we’re going to move on with

  • In this step, we don’t continue diverging or creating individual ideas tending to infinity
  • Instead, we use techniques to converge and arrive all together to a single idea
  • And “converge” — according to the dictionary — means “to move toward one point and join together” and “to come together and have one goal”
  • We use, for example, the Zen Vote, where each participant has 3 votes and gives them to the best ideas, in order to create a big idea with the most voted micro-ideas.

Step 5: Prototyping

  • In this step, the team prepares the prototypes to validate the ideas very quickly and very cheap

Step 6: Validating

  • In this step, the team validates with users if they can interact with the prototypes and if the prototype works to reach our goal
  • This methodology conceptually splits up Understanding (User Research) and Validating
  • In the understanding step, the team will arrive at the problem’s root — the users needs and pains — in order to ideate a creative solution to a real problem
  • And in the validating step, the subject of study will be the prototypes after they have been ideated

Why do I think this paradigm is interesting? Because:

  • The strategic plan is anchored in the reality and in the human beings problematic
  • It allows everyone to express themselves and lays everyone’s ideas on the table.
  • The shiest people don’t need to strive in order to be heard. The most talkative ones won’t have more chances to win. Each of them will have a space to ideate and be heard
  • It compels everyone to agree
  • And the power will be in the horizontal and democratic vote

In conclusion, this framework allows us to think up a solution to solve almost any problem, together and being focused.

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