Doing Design Sprint — Day 0

This is a part 1/6 series in my experience running a design sprint, if you are interested please find the rest of the sprint here

  • Day 0 — The week before (this blog)
  • Day 1 — Monday
  • Day 2 — Tuesday
  • Day 3 — Wednesday
  • Day 4 — Thursday (coming soon)
  • Day 5 — Friday (coming soon)

How did I get here?

I saw people around me started talking about this book about 2 weeks ago. Being an agile practitioner, the name “Sprint” spark my interest.

Two of my friends got the book and read it. They told me that it is more around product design (building the right thing) rather than the agile sprint (which is about building the thing right). So it went into a “maybe later” pile of reading list.

Then one day I heard from the product lead from my office that he is thinking about doing a design sprint to improve how stories are being more defined when they got into the sprint. I saw an opportunity.

I got the book, read it, love it.

I volunteered to help with the design sprint using the process described in the text book.

I want to document the whole process from day 0 to day 5 and the outcome afterward.

ABC — Always be closing

After the product lead and the CTO agreed to try to run the design sprint this way — I turn my focus into my 2nd read. I would have to play a facilitator role, this means I must be clear with all the objectives of all the workshops. So I created a google slide, share it and jump right in.

That turns out to be my first mistake.

Doing the design sprint would required 7 people cross-functional team from customer service, business development, engineering, marketing and so on.

They would have to take 5 full days out of their busy schedule to join an extended workshop that they don’t understand.

Newton’s third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

To my surprise that when we gather all department leads and announce that we are planing to do this in the week after, they are not all excited to take part.

So the lesson here is that we should have get the buy-in and feedback from the department leads individually before we do one big announcement.

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. — Sun Tzu

After lots of help and lots of discussion afterward, we still got the green light. It was not as clean as I would have like it to be and it took longer than if we would have done it right the first time.

Not all is lost, from the discussion we learn lots of good feedback. For example

  • When we choose this to solve the unclear requirements problem, have we look at other things?
  • There are lots of good practice in the book like how to interview customers but do we have to take the whole 5 days? can’t we just take some workshop and add to the existing workflow?
  • Instead of spend 5 days workshop to decide what we should do first in our list of ideas, wouldn’t it be faster if we just try all the ideas and learn from that?
  • Can we cut it down to 3 days?
  • Why are we doing this workshop? Am I not doing my job right?
  • This sounds too abstract for me. I can’t see how this would help us.

And so on — you got the picture.

This reminds me of the book I am reading by Daniel H. Pink — To sell is Human.

ABC — Always be closing

Preparing to launch

We spend about 4 days so far preparing the deck for the workshops and talking and getting feedback from people.

We are planning to run the sprint next week on Monday. We got just enough buy-in from the department heads to try this. All the participants and experts of Monday afternoon were invited. They agreed to give this process a try.

We merged some topic where we can and got 11 workshops into total


  • Workshop 1: Start at the end (1 hour)
  • Workshop 2: Make a map (1 hour)
  • Workshop 3: Ask the expert (2 hours about 30 mins per experts)
  • Workshop 4: Target (1 hour)
  • Homework: Lightning Demo


  • Workshop 5: Lightning Demo (3 hour — 3 mins each demo)
  • Workshop 6: Sketch ( 3 hours )
  • Homework: Invite Users


  • Workshop 7: Sticky Decision ( 2.5 hours )
  • Workshop 8: Storyboard ( 2.5 hours )


  • Workshop 9: Prototype (all day)
  • Workshop 10: Trial run


  • Workshop 11: User interview (1 hour per interview with 30 mins break)

9:00 - Interview #1
10:00 - Break
10:30 - Interview #2
11:30 - Early Lunch
12:30 - Interview #3
13:30 - Break
14:00 - Interview #4
15.00 - Break
15:30 - Interview #5
16:30 - Debrief

Some participants will join for 3 days. It is not ideal but the prototype and the user-interview days are the things we could cut first without effecting the sprint too much.

Mock sprint

With 2 days of the week reminding, we plan to run a mock sprint on another objective about 3–4 people, mostly facilitators and decider(s).

The goal is to get some flight time under our belt. Making sure we know where the frictions are in each workshop. It is one thing to see the path, it is another to walk it — even if it is a simulated one.

I will update this blog with links that capture our learning from running the sprint once we have completed (sometime after next week).

Until then, wish us luck :)


This is a part 1/6 series in my experience running a design sprint, if you are interested please find the rest of the sprint here

  • Day 0 — The week before (this blog)
  • Day 1 — Monday
  • Day 2 — Tuesday
  • Day 3 — Wednesday
  • Day 4 — Thursday (coming soon)
  • Day 5 — Friday (coming soon)

Useful links