What you get from a Design Sprint
I say it in workshops I lead, I have a dedicated slide in my pitch deck, and tell everyone who will listen: The biggest takeaway from a Design Sprint is (in)validation of your riskiest assumptions. Often at the end of a Design Sprint I hear a participant say something to the tune of:
“We learned more this week than we have in the last two years.”
Nothing compares with the experience of getting an awesome group of people in a room for a week to strategically tackle your assumptions, brainstorm new ideas, bring one (or more) to life, and put it to the test. A Design Sprint is a fantastic tool to (re)invigorate your team and get them fired up to move quickly on a new opportunity. It’s a problem-solving framework that puts the focus on answers (outcomes) and not just assets (outputs). But make no mistake, there are still outputs.
Oh, you wanted deliverables? I’ve got those too. In addition to the answers to your biggest and most important strategic questions, you can get the following deliverables from a Design Sprint.
Step four of the Design Sprint process is to Prototype. These are the customer-tested prototypes of your new risky concept. Prototypes may include website or product concepts in Sketch or inVision or even a presentation. It depends what you’re trying to test and validate and, the reactions and feedback that you collect from your customers during testing. However, I have to warn people not to get too attached. The shelf life of a Design Sprint prototype is intentionally very short. Sprint prototypes usually get pitched and re-invented after feedback has been collected from test subjects in step five.
Prototype Test Recordings
The entire Design Sprint builds up to the test so naturally, the interviews themselves are rich with data for you and your team to mine. That is why I make prototype test recordings for every test participant (with their permission, of course). It can be handy to re-listen to the exchange or to share with new team members trying to get up to speed on your project.
Artifact Images and Notes
If you know anything about Design Sprinting you know it involves a lot of Post-It notes. I take pictures of all the Post-It artifacts from the sprint exercises. For some organizations this is enough of a reference tool for them to take their learnings and keep running. Other teams like to take it a step further. For them My colleague or I will create detailed sprint notes that detail the content of every Post-It into a tidy and organized spreadsheet. That way as your team continues to work on the concept, they can perform searches and refer back to their exercise notes quickly and easily. The best part is that you don’t have to guess what your teammate’s handwriting was trying to say.
Sprint Capture Document(s)
Pictures, and meeting notes are great reference tools for those who were part of the Design Sprint, but what about bosses, stakeholders, and curious coworkers? The Design Sprint isn’t over at the end of Phase Five. Thoughtful communication to important internal stakeholders will ensure your hard work finds the traction it needs to move you forward or help you make the tough decisions. Each team I work with has their own way of sharing the information about their learnings. Some teams hold a Q&A session at the end with internal stakeholders while others have kept their post-it note gallery in-tact for an additional week so that sprint participants could give tours to their colleagues. Other teams request a more formal artifact in the form of a sharable capture document. It explains the process the team went through as well as the takeaways and learnings from the Design Sprint.
What you don’t get…
Now that you know some of the outputs, It’s important to point out what you won’t get out of a Design Sprint.
You will not get a fully defined and validated MVP.
Design Sprints are a good start, but MVP definition requires a lot more input and iteration than what can fit into a typical five-phase sprint.
Quite often I will continue to work with sprint teams past the end of phase five. In addition to ensuring the team has everything they need for a successful handoff, I will work with designers to take the test results and create a new and improved prototype, conduct iterative rounds of testing, and facilitate product roadmapping to give the team a strategic plan for implementation.
When I talk about what it means to have a successful Design Sprint I want participants to feel great at the end of the sprint, but I know that’s not enough. People give their hard-earned time to a process and in return need more than a feeling. Product leaders need tangible direction on how to propel their project to the next level. Teams need to walk away not only with the motivation to press on but with effective tools to take the next steps and to bring others with them on the journey.