The Design Sprint Bubble

Design Sprint. This is a process that now pretty much everyone has heard of, uses it or seriously considers using it. There’s a ton of information about it, starting with the Sprint book by Jake Knapp to articles, podcasts, videos about all kind of tips and tricks on how to run the sprints and tweak the process to make it better.

So, considering the wealth of information why do so many companies still struggle to implement design sprints?

Out of many possible answers, my choice would be that there is too much focus on the actual design sprint process.

It’s easy and tempting to focus on how to run the sprint, sorting all logistics, booking people’s time, finding that kick-ass facilitator and then going through the process in one intensive, exciting and exhilarating week at the end of which there’s the gratification, the reward, a customer-tested prototype.

But that reward, the prototype for which you and your team have worked so hard the entire week, is that the best it could be and does it provide the same kind of reward to the business as it did for the sprint team? How is it possible that the gratification and success the team has experienced is not carried over throughout the entire organization?

More often than not when you place the focus on the design sprint process, the big picture design sprints must fit in is overlooked.

Most of the companies trying to implement design sprints already have functional workflows and processes in place. Design Sprints should aim to complement and enhance these and also remove existing barriers and constraints, all while creating value for the business and ultimately the customer.

If this does not happen, naturally, the blame will be cast on the process, — Design Sprints don’t work — rather than implementation.

So a first step in adopting design sprints in any organization is to make sure that they don’t happen in a bubble. At the very least connect them to a business goal and a customer need and make sure that there is a plan in place to turn the results of the design sprints into tangible outcomes.

How to do that? Will try to give some answers, advice and guidance in future articles. Meanwhile, if you’re in charge of implementing design sprints into your organization, which are the most significant hurdles you face?

At the Design Sprint Academy it is our mission to help organizations adopt design sprints as part of their innovation process to enable them to reach tangible results for their customers. Find out more at designsprint.academy