Announcing the 5th Global Virtual Design Sprint

October 5–30, 2020 🔥

Robert Skrobe
Dallas Design Sprints


I’m very happy to announce the 5th Global Virtual Design Sprint (GVDS), taking place from Monday, October 5 through Friday, October 30. 😁

As always, there’s a lot to cover. New formats, updated offerings and even some surprise events. We’ll go over it all in this article.

🤫 (Psst…if you’re just looking to take advantage of some early bird registration (till September 11), skip the line and follow this link.)

What I learned from the last Global Virtual Design Sprint (4.0)

The grand experiment with doing an entire month of virtual design sprints last May made four things loud and clear:

  1. The pace of doing virtual design sprints + iterative sprints + experimental pretotyping sessions every week exhausted nearly everyone.
  2. People who were brand new to the Global Virtual Design Sprint needed a lot more guidance and support than what I’d been providing.
  3. The Facilitator role was taking on too much responsibility and ownership of tasks that were meant to be shared by the team.
  4. The boundaries of what was permissible to do in the GVDS were not clearly defined.

I also heard some great feedback from participants on what they liked, wished and wondered about the GVDS. Many wanted to continue working with their teams, while others wanted to take their designs and inventions to market.

There was also some constructive criticism with proper on-boarding and setting expectations for new participants. First time facilitators were struggling to manage their teams, while others didn’t anticipate the immersion of time and effort the event was asking for.

Clearly, there were things to correct while other aspects of the event were working well. All of it was good to hear and consider.

What’s new with GVDS 5.0

Taking the above feedback and perspective into account, here’s a complete list of what I’m planning to do for the October event:

  • A comprehensive, four week VDS experience
    We’ll be covering all aspects of a virtual design sprint… from planning and research to execution and reflection.
  • A GVDS onboarding program for new arrivals
    Those who are completely new to design sprints, remote work, or doing virtual workshops can take advantage of a new onboarding program I’ll be showcasing in mid-October.
  • A structured, how-to approach to doing a virtual design sprint
    Starting in Week 1, all participants will have access to a set of instructional videos to walk them through how a virtual design sprint is done.
  • An emphasis on smaller teams and balanced schedules
    While past events have welcomed larger teams and timelines, I’ll be limiting both the number of VDS team participants (8) and the amount of time they work together online (90 minute sessions recommended).
  • A formal submission process for challenges
    I’ll be keeping the process for submitting challenges from GVDS4. However, we’ll be adding some specifics around SME’s (names, contact info) and author availability to ensure proper participation with those teams that take on their challenge or idea.
  • A centralized location for all GVDS materials
    The GVDS website and YouTube will be used to store all participant resources and materials for reference. In previous events, we’ve relied on a combination of Slack and Google Drive… which proved problematic.
  • An introduction to the Dash
    If you’re interested in testing the market with a product or service idea, you can participate in the Dash… a new process that mixes design thinking with Alberto Savoia’s pretotyping technique.
  • Regular retrospectives and networking events
    I’ll be hosting a number of GVDS-related networking and retrospective events, allowing attendees the chance to get to know one another while reflecting on what they’ve experienced.
  • An official GVDS Code of Conduct
    They’re be a new social contract presented during the registration process, informing potential participants on the event’s expectations around participation, professionalism and personal conduct. It will also update existing criterion for removal or expulsion from the event.
  • A new GVDS digital certificate of achievement
    A long-requested feature of the Global Virtual Design Sprint (since GVDS #2) is finally coming; a digital certificate for those who either complete an entire VDS session or win a Spotlight award. Participants from previous events will also be able to request their own as well.

So what’s a “Global Virtual Design Sprint” anyway? 🤔

The Global Virtual Design Sprint was originally created to showcase what practitioners and professionals were capable of doing in a virtual design sprint environment.

‍Starting with a pilot event in November 2018, the GVDS has evolved into a platform that gives professionals an outlet to learn and practice the design sprint process while collaborating on projects for social good.

Who is the Global Virtual Design Sprint for? 🤷‍♂️

The GVDS was designed to introduce the following audiences to the virtual design sprint process and how it could be used with their own work.

  • Designers who are looking to showcase what they can do (for their portfolios, upcoming job opportunities, etc.)
  • Facilitators (and co-facilitators) who are interested in leading a virtual design sprint team
  • Researchers looking to inform design teams with proper context and user interviews
  • Developers who want a more inclusive experience with the work they do for a project team
  • Entrepreneurs wanting to explore the market with different product and service ideas.

What do I get from participating in the GVDS? 🥳

  1. A ‘Learn by doing’ approach to virtual design sprints
    If you’re tired of watching videos, reading articles or taking masterclasses on how to do remote design sprints without actually doing one, then the Global Virtual Design Sprint is for you. You’ll actually get to prepare, research, execute and experience a *real* virtual design sprint.
  2. Exposure to new techniques, methods and activities in real time
    Whether it’s using Mural, learning how to do make a map, running a four step sketch or managing a ‘sticky decision’ activity, the Global Virtual Design Sprint has plenty of opportunities to learn and discover new techniques and methods.
  3. Learn how to determine the market desirability for your ideas
    How do you know if your amazing pancake robot is something people will buy? Will you find customers with your ‘Burrito Van’ service idea? For GVDS5, we’ll be showing participants how to quickly and cheaply test the market to better understand what they want the most.
  4. Working with an international team of amazing professionals and practitioners. You’ll be collaborating with a diverse set of people from around the world (geographies, skills and cultures). You’ll establish chemistry, group dynamics and an appreciation for different perspectives while working on your virtual design sprint.
  5. An unbelievable amount of networking opportunities.
    You’ll have the chance to network with over 100+ professionals and practitioners who will be joining the Global Virtual Design Sprint in October. You’ll also be introduced to the greater GVDS Community (of over 500 members) for additional opportunities to connect.

How much does it cost to participate in the GVDS? 💰

Pricing for the Global Virtual Design Sprint will have different tiers, based on previous participation and timing. While these may be subject to change, here’s what we’ll start with:

  • $99 USD: Previous GVDS Award Winners (Best of the Best, MVP)
  • $199 USD: GVDS Alumni, GVDS Referrals and Students
  • $249 USD: Early bird pricing till September 11, 2020
  • $299 USD: Discounted rate for partner events
  • $399 USD: Regular Entry Fee

For those with financial hardships, I do offer delayed payment with a ‘promise to pay’ before the next event in February 2021. I’ll only be offering this to a few individuals who have legitimate situations that they need to deal with.

How much of a time commitment do I have to make? ⏰

  • In the weeks prior to your virtual design sprint, I would reserve approximately 10 hours of your week for the event. You’ll need this time to understand the challenge or idea you’re considering as well as the team activities you’ll be participating in.
  • For the week of your virtual design sprint, you’ll be spending approximately 90 minutes online together and about 2–3 hours offline alone, per day.

The majority of the this offline time is passive and offline. Meaning, you communicate, share and collaborate with your sprint team and other professionals in mediums like Slack, WhatsApp, Mural, Email and other related tools.

While you and your team are more than welcome to setup small group sessions for collaborative discussion, your online time as a Sprint/Dash team should be reserved for decision making and setting direction.

What does the schedule look like? 📆

Here’s a high level view of the 5th Global Virtual Design Sprint, from start to finish.

Week 1 (October 5–9):

  • We’ll start with a commencement kickoff, going through the various virtual design sprints (VDS) + Dash events (hybrid of design thinking and pretotyping) that participants can choose from.
  • We’ll also introduce a Sprint registrar, with all topics, teams and challenges being announced at the commencement.
  • Finally, we’ll be holding sprint team kickoffs to officially start the event. Each group will have a schedule of events, a list of communication norms and the option of doing a Team Canvas exercise to get to know one another.

Week 2 (October 12–16):
For those doing Virtual Design Sprints, we’ll have each team conduct some problem framing exercises, arrange SME interviews and research the problem space their challenge deals with.

For those doing a Dash, we’ll be exploring the proposed opportunity, defining our audience and setting up our first initial experiments.

Week 3 (October 19–23):
All teams will be doing their virtual design sprints and/or Dashes this week, limiting their ‘online together’ time to 90 minutes where possible. We’ll also hold several retrospective and networking events to learn and connect with one another.

Week 4 (October 26–30):
All teams will be wrapping up their sessions with user interviews, iteration sprints, new experiments or new market engagement hypotheses. Those who are looking to present what they’ve done can take this week to prepare for …

GVDS Showcase Week (November 2–6):
… the GVDS Showcase, a week dedicated to the work done throughout the Global Virtual Design Sprint. Each team will get a chance to ‘showcase’ their prototypes and pretotype experiments to the public, using some GVDS templates that can be leveraged for their presentations.

We’ll also announce our GVDS Spotlight Awards, a peer-based method of acknowledging and celebrating outstanding efforts by both individual professionals and their teams.

How do I register for the GVDS? ✍️

That’s the easy part! You can sign up for the Global Virtual Design Sprint by following this link.

If you have any questions before you register, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or through the official Global Virtual Design Sprint website.

Looking forward to working with you all! 🙌



Robert Skrobe
Dallas Design Sprints

I run Dallas Design Sprints, The Design Sprint Referral Network and Talent Sprints.