Changing the Conversation with Design Sprints

When I first joined the Search Ads team at Google in the summer of 2012 as an Interaction Designer, I joined a product team that was working in silos. The UX team sat separately from Product and Eng, and each role owned their step in the product development process. Projects would land on my desk, initiated by a PM, and after rounds of mock making, reviewing and tweaking, including stringent approval processes, I would eventually pass my work over to an engineer who had never been included in any of these conversations. At this point during this process we still hadn’t even talked to our users. The break points in this working method were numerous and probably familiar to many Interaction Designers.

A year later the Ads and Commerce UX team hosted an “Innovation Week”, which the following year became the first Sprint Week. This was my first exposure to this newly forming methodology. It was created by various passionate UX Designers and Researchers across multiple teams. I found this process to be so inspiring and effective that I jumped at the opportunity to be trained in the first internal Sprint Master Academy that was formed the following year. After that, I ran multiple sprints for the Search Ads team within just a few short months, thanks to a very willing team. This enabled me to bring together Product Managers, UX Designers, Engineers and Researchers to all join the product strategy conversation and collaborate on generating ideas to meet our team’s objectives and test our ideas quickly with users.

Along with a couple of other dedicated folks, I now help run the internal Sprint Master Academy which has trained over 300 Sprint Masters to be conversant in the Design Sprint methodology.

This process brings together a cross-functional team to take on a critical business challenge, generate potential solutions and test them with users in a very short time frame. Internal Google teams, as well as Google Ventures, have developed variations on this methodology over time. We have tested different methods in various orders for a diverse set of challenges. The core set of methods that we have included in the new Design Sprint Kit site are the basics that make up the foundation of the process that we use for Google product teams.

Our process emphasizes elasticity and malleability in order to meet the needs of disparate internal product teams, external start ups, partners and even non-profit organizations. This ability to adjust the process to answer and solve a multiplicity of questions is what makes this process so valuable and a little different than others out there.

Conversations about how to meet user’s needs and business goals used to be the sole purview of the Product Manager role, by introducing a new way of working together that puts the user at the core and leverages the expertise of different roles together we are able to create more viable product ideas.

Hopefully Design Sprints can help your team change your product conversations, boost your productivity and build more innovative products like the they have for the teams that I have worked with.

Visit the designsprintkit.withgoogle.com for the resources to get you started!

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