Announcing the next Global Virtual Design Sprint (November 4-22, 2019)

Robert Skrobe
Aug 29 · 10 min read
Artwork and design by the wonderful Franzia Flores

Let’s get rolling!

I’m very excited to announce the return of the Global Virtual Design Sprint this November. It’ll be the second major online design sprint event I’ll be producing, and I’m putting everything I’ve got into it.

There’s a lot of new changes to cover, and I’ll walk you through everything… including some pre-event activities and major changes to the overall lineup.

🤫 (Psst…if you just want to register, skip the line and follow this link.)


What’s new with GVDS 3.0

After the debut event in April, I spent a lot of time getting feedback from literally everyone who participated.

Whether it was retrospectives, 1 on 1’s or feedback surveys… I listened, learned and started mapping some major changes to how the next Global Virtual Design Sprint was going to run.

Here’s what you can expect:

  1. A solid, dependable team for your virtual sprint 💪
    No more no-shows or last minute cancellations. We’re organizing virtual design sprint teams well in advance of our November event, giving each participant the opportunity to self-select who they want to work with.
  2. A streamlined, structured event schedule 📆
    You’ll have more time to find the right team, pick the right challenge, conduct proper research and organize a virtual design sprint with the best possible outcome. We’ll even help you promote both the final prototype and your own professional brand in the process.
  3. A wide variety of virtual sprints to choose from 🎉
    You can join a single virtual design sprint, or several… whatever your schedule allows for. We can help you choose the right team, or you can organize one for you and your colleagues.
  4. A three week training course on virtual design sprinting 🧐
    All participants can join a free, interactive three week online training course (normally $599 USD) to organize, manage and learn how to run their own virtual design sprints. You’ll even have the chance to walk through some of the exercises yourself.
  5. A curated selection of templates to build your virtual design sprint 🔥
    I’m partnering with the amazing Sandy Lam to provide a variety of Mural templates for the Global Virtual Design Sprint. We’ll have a few ready-made for branding, talent finding and problem framing. You’ll even be able to submit your own for the GVDS community to try out.
  6. Early access to GVDS events and activities 🌅
    I have a few surprises in store for the design sprint community, but GVDS participants will know way in advance before anyone else does. One hint…you just never know who’s going to show up in October. 😁
  7. More professional networking opportunities 🤝
    You’ll meet and collaborate with some of the best and brightest design sprint professionals from around the world. I personally have met so many amazing people from different professional backgrounds. Whether you’re experienced or not, you’ll meet a lot of new people.

Hang on! What’s a “Global Virtual Design Sprint”? 🤔

Whoops! I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

The Global Virtual Design Sprint (GVDS) is a world-wide event where its participants:

  • Form a team of 5–10 professionals and practitioners
  • Come together around an idea, purpose or challenge.
  • Conduct research and explore a problem space.
  • Plan and execute a design sprint (or something similar) online (virtually)
  • Share their stories, network with others, and have a good time.

I originally held an exploratory pilot back in November, 2018 with a whole bunch of smart, talented and gifted professionals. They gave an enormous amount of time and energy towards a really interesting idea, and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. In fact, the pilot was far more successful than I thought it was going to be because of our collective efforts.

In April of this year, I went full bananas and did an entire month of virtual design sprints. 300+ people, 15+ teams and a whole lot of collaboration, learning and discovery.

The wonderful people representing Mural (Emilia Åström, Mark Tippin, David Allen Chin), DesignSprintStudio (looking at you Sabrina Goerlich) and John Vetan from Design Sprint Academy stepped up in a major way to lend a hand and support the event.

With GVDS 3.0, I’ll continue to support the greater community of design sprint facilitators and practitioners, as well as new audiences interested in the methodology.


Who is the Global Virtual Design Sprint for? 🤷‍♂️

The event was originally built for those familiar with the design sprint methodology. For GVDS 3.0, it’s being oriented towards audiences that would like to understand and experience what a virtual design sprint is like.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Design Sprint facilitators and practitioners of all experience levels
  • Designers versed in product, user experience, growth and/or voice design
  • Researchers, whether they come from a traditional, digital or academic background
  • Developers who align themselves with web/mobile, voice or wearables
  • Advisors, especially those aligned with strategy, marketing, product development and executive leadership

So, why are you doing this? 🤨

I started the Global Virtual Design Sprint to showcase what design sprint practitioners were capable of. Many didn’t have an outlet for practicing design sprints after gaining a degree or certification. I wanted to change that.

Today, the GVDS exists to give professionals an outlet to learn and practice the design sprint process while collaborating and working with one another in a virtual environment. I believe that’s where the process will evolve, thrive and exist in the future.

My personal motivation is to elevate current and future design sprint practitioners to be the best professional versions of themselves. I want them to have the best chance of showcasing who they are and what they’re about. If I can make a difference with that, I’ll be very happy.


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

The Global Virtual Design Sprint is moving from a free event to a paid one. The pricing model follows the convention of other online events, staying towards the more conservative tier as an entry point.

  • Aug 28 to Sept 11, 2019: $59 USD (Early Bird Pricing)
  • Sept 12 to Oct 4: $99 USD
  • Oct 5 to Oct 11: $199 USD (Last Minute Dash)

By having a paid event, the following dynamics are coming into play.

  1. Sh*t just got real
    I’m officially on the hook to deliver an outrageous amount of value. I’ll be rescheduling any incoming client work for October and November, dedicating two full months to making this thing sing like Beyonce.
  2. Paying for quality help
    I have to budget what I can outsource versus what I can do myself. I’ve already hired Franzia Flores to help create the GVDS logo you saw at the top of this article. There will undoubtedly be more where that came from.
  3. Making the case to attend
    The audiences I want to serve have options… lots of options. They have in-person conferences that cater to their profession, as well as master class certifications and degrees they could spend their time and money on. I need to make the case that participating in this event isn’t even a debate. It’s a must-attend event for those that practice design sprints, period.

What was wrong with the old ‘freemium’ model of the GVDS? 😅

The ‘freemium’ model caused too many dropouts and a lot of frustration for those wanting to explore virtual design sprints. There wasn’t any obligation or commitment required for anyone wanting to participate. I was rolling the dice whenever I assembled a team that, on paper, looked really good.

From a process standpoint, it was a mess. I was manually maintaining multiple spreadsheets for different audiences. I had a lot of last minute adds to the event, which put undue pressure on facilitators to re-orient themselves to a larger team without much notice.

Finally, the communication required to keep 15 different virtual design sprint teams on the same page about who was still on their team was extremely time consuming. Some participants dropped out, tired of being shuffled from one team to the next.

With a paid model, I’ll be able to construct a better pool of committed, interested professionals that are serious about learning by doing. I’ll be able to deliver a higher level of value for everyone and make the case for a return event in April, 2020.


What does the schedule look like? 📆

Here’s a high level view of the Global Virtual Design Sprint 3.0, from start to finish.

August 28 — October 11, 2019:
Registration is open, with early bird pricing ending on Wednesday, September 11.

Friday, October 11:
This will be the last day to register for GVDS 3.0. It’ll also be the last day for participants to self-declare their place on a GVDS virtual sprint team.

October 7–22:
Sandy Lam and I will be conducting a three week training course on virtual design sprints. Participants will have the opportunity to try out different design sprint activities while learning how to prepare, plan, execute and promote the methodology in an online environment.

October 14–31:
Teams will take this time to finalize their ideas/challenges while planning November dates/times for their virtual design sprint.

Teams will also hold any necessary problem framing sessions, conduct group research and begin the process of conducting subject matter expert (SME) interviews

November 4–22:
The 3rd Global Virtual Design Sprint will be epic and glorious.

November 25–27:
If all goes well, we’ll have a lot of team retrospectives, Spotlight Award Nominations (for the best performing and supportive team members, voted on by the participants themselves), and a post-event self promotion guide participants can use to help promote themselves online.


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

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

The quick and dirty answer is:

  • For the week you’re doing your virtual design sprint, anywhere from 6–12 hours online together, and about 10–15 hours offline.
  • In the weeks prior to your virtual design sprint, it varies widely by your role, the type of sprint you’re doing and how pot-committed you are to the challenge or idea.

As a rule, I don’t impose time quotas or force participants to do anything in the GVDS. You just have to work out your availability with the rest of your design sprint team in mid-October and decide what’s a reasonable amount of time you can allocate towards the event.


I have a real demanding job and a lot of other commitments. How are you going to schedule this out? 🤨

Prior to the teams’ virtual sprint week and right after your Sprint team officially forms, we take a poll (usually with something like Doodle) to figure out the availability of the entire team for their virtual design sprint.

Once we have that in hand, we figure out some optimal ‘together-online’ time to run particular exercises used for virtual design sprints. Mondays and Tuesdays are usually the most critical days to have available for online group work.

One thing to keep in mind is the reality of your own situation. If you think you’ll be hard pressed to find any available time on your schedule (approximately 15–25 hours in a single week in November), I would *not* recommend signing up the Global Virtual Design Sprint.

Please make sure you can make time for this event in November before signing up. If something unexpected does come up, I can always refund your entry fee. It’s not a big deal to do so. 👍


How do I register for the GVDS? ✍️

That’s the easy part!

Head on over to the following Typeform to start the registration process:
https://virtualsprint.typeform.com/to/uUl3El

For reference, I’ll be asking for:

  • Your name, location, email and LinkedIn Profile (optional)
  • A partner code (if you’re registering for the event as part of a larger group and want me to organize based on that code)
  • Your design sprint experience, the roles you want to be considered for, and when you would like to do a virtual design sprint in November
  • Your acceptance of some GVDS Terms and Conditions (for legal and liability purposes) before participating in the event
  • Your GVDS entry fee (via Transferwise or Stripe)

I’d like to get my business involved with the GVDS! How can we make that happen? 🧳

It all depends on what you’d like to do. Take a look at the list below and see if there’s a situation listed that speaks to you.

  1. I’d like to get my team registered for the GVDS.
    Not a problem! When each of your team registers for the event, be sure to use the same Partner Code to match everyone together. I’ll make sure everyone’s paired together when we start forming teams.
  2. I’d like to do an event at my place of business / with my local community in support of the GVDS.
    Sounds great! If you need any media or marketing materials to use for promotions, I have a few that you can use. If you’re looking to coordinate efforts for things like college campuses, recruiting talent or branding, schedule a session on my Calendly and let’s have a chat.
  3. I’d like to partner/sponsor the GVDS in some capacity.
    I’d be humbled if anyone would like to do, but it can’t be at the expense of the audience I’m trying to serve. I’d also like to know what kind of business outcomes you’re hoping to achieve. That should get us started in the right direction.

    If you’d like an example of what a great partnership looks like, look no further than the fantastic group of professionals over at Mural. They’ve been with the GVDS from Day 1 and continue to support efforts with remote work and virtual design sprinting. Can’t recommend them enough.

If you’re looking for an amazing new website to showcase the Global Virtual Website, you’ll have to wait for a short bit. 😅 . I should have it up and running in a couple of weeks. By the way, if you’re a bit of an expert in Webflow and know your way around web development for a mobile interface, we should have a conversation soon. 😁

Until then, thank you very much for reading this entire article! Be sure to post some questions if you have them, and I hope you’ll join me in November for the Global Virtual Design Sprint. It’s going to be amazing. 🤘😎🤘

Yet another creative logo design done by Franzia Flores.

© 2019 Dallas Design Sprints

Disclosure:
The Global Virtual Design Sprint (‘GVDS’) is an online event organized and produced by Dallas Design Sprints and Robert Skrobe Consulting LLC, a registered consulting agency in the state of Texas.

Robert Skrobe

Written by

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

Dallas Design Sprints

I train individuals, teams and companies on how to effectively use the design sprint process. I also enjoy highlighting other professionals and practitioners in the field, and feature their stories here on Medium.

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