How to manage group dynamics when running Remote Sprints?

Dana Vetan
Mar 4 · 3 min read

A successful design sprint means an engaged team dedicated to creating unique and surprising solutions. I believe “engaged” is the keyword in our story. In today’s world, everything is moving so fast, and since we are bombarded with more than 11 million pieces of information at any given moment, we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that the average human attention span is down to eight seconds from 12 in the last 18 years. The internet, technological advancements such as smartphones and video games have all played a role in this drop.

So how do you keep teams engaged, especially when you are facilitating remote design sprints?

Of course, it all starts with making sure the team members know and understand the challenge, the desired outcomes and their role and purpose as part of the sprint team. And they should also want to be there :). But making them pay attention and be present at all times is another story entirely.

When facilitating in-person design sprints, we can use different techniques for combating the lack of involvement, such as:

  • explaining the purpose behind each activity and getting the team to buy-in before proceeding to the next exercise;
  • paying attention to people’s reactions and emotions;
  • showing empathy (when things are going great as well as when they are going bad);
  • compensating their lack of energy with our energy;
  • …(you can learn more about managing difficult group dynamics, deviations and conflicts by joining one of our Facilitation Workshops).

But when it comes to remote sprints many of the techniques are tricky to apply. So, we created a tool for empathy, a tool to help you screen the emotional state of your remote team and help you to act accordingly.

Emotional Rollercoaster — Template — Mural

Why use the Emotional Rollercoaster?

For two reasons:

  1. to set the right expectations
  2. to diagnose the team’s health and level of engagement

How to use the Emotional Rollercoaster?

  1. Before the sprint

We suggest introducing it in the preparation phase of your remote sprint. By walking the team through the emotional journey of a sprint, you will reduce the level of ambiguity; you will create a safer environment and also win their trust in you as a facilitator. Once they know what to expect, they will find a way to adapt.

2. During the sprint

After completing different exercises or sprint phases, you can invite everyone to use the Voting feature offered by Mural and click on the emotion they feel at that point. You can also encourage them to capture any new feelings or thoughts. Diagnosing the team this way will give you valuable clues on how to proceed next, but also help the team gain alignment and empathise with each other.

Hopefully, you will find it useful. Let me know if you do try it. Since we’re continually working to improve our processes and tools at the Academy, any feedback or suggestions would be more than welcome.

Design Sprint Academy

Dana Vetan

Written by

Head of Training & Co-founder at Design Sprint Academy

Design Sprint Academy

Learn how to run Design Sprints successfully

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