design-sprint

What Is Design Sprint And Why It Matters In Business

A design sprint is a proven five-day process where critical business questions are answered through speedy design and prototyping, focusing on the end-user. A design sprint starts with a weekly challenge that should finish with a prototype, test at the end, and therefore a lesson learned to be iterated.

Understanding a design sprint

Design sprints were initially developed by Google Ventures to help start-up businesses address and overcome challenges. 

Over time, the process has evolved into what Google suggests is a “greatest hits of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more – packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.” 

As the name suggests, design sprints aim to find solutions to problems quickly. This is achieved by following a proven schedule over five days. In the next section, we’ll take a look at each section day in more detail.

The five days of a design sprint

Design sprints are highly collaborative and experimental with a focus on the end-user. The approach is based on design thinking, which advocates a human-centered approach to innovation and rapid prototyping.

A typical design sprint follows this basic structure:

Monday

On the first day, the challenge is clearly identified and a strategy is devised for the rest of the week to overcome it.

Who is the end-user and what are their needs?

Tuesday

The sprint team brainstorms potential solutions and sketches various solutions that may have merit.

Wednesday

From the list of solutions created on Tuesday, the team selects those that have a realistic chance of solving the problem by the end of the week.

Then, each sketched solution is turned into a storyboard.

Thursday

Storyboards are turned into working prototypes that are ready for testing.

Friday

On the last day, prototypes are shown to key stakeholders and tested for viability.

Strengths of the design sprint process

Aside from the obvious speed in which a viable solution can be found, design sprints also break from outdated, committee-based decision making prevalent in many organizations.

By de-centralizing the design process, design prints encourage stakeholders with a variety of perspectives to come together and work toward a shared vision.

Strength also lies in the focus on sketching and prototyping. Both allow sprint teams to explore creative ideas that might otherwise be rejected.

If the final solution is not viable, sketching and prototyping is an effective means of reducing the cost of failure. 

Design sprint 2.0

Design sprint 2.0 is the most updated and semi-official version of the process.

Several changes have been made to the updated version, including:

A four-day process

To increase efficiency, procedures have been shortened or streamlined.

Perhaps counterintuitively, steps have also been added to increase efficiency.

Less commitment

In the updated version, the full sprint team only needs to attend two days instead of five.

This makes it easier for stakeholders to clear the required time in their schedules.

Optimization for app development

Design sprint 2.0 is a faster and more aggressive approach to prototype testing.

As a result, it is well suited to modern rapid app cycles where speed is a priority.

If required, tech businesses can also run both versions of the sprint simultaneously or perform consecutive 2.0 sprints.

Airbnb Case Study

Airbnb has a long-standing tradition of using design sprints and storyboarding to make key decisions.

Indeed, Airbnb emphasizes design and UX as core components of its value proposition.

This became even clearer when back in 2020, Airbnb called it “The New Normal,” the ability to incorporate storyboarding and design sprints within its UX development process.

As Airbnb highlighted at the time:

“In the spring of 2020, a global pandemic quickly changed the rules for how we live, work, relax, and travel. Airbnb, like many businesses, had to pivot its priorities to meet the needs of travelers and hosts who had a new set of behaviors and constraints.”

In order to enable guests and hosts to feel comfortable throughout the pandemic, Airbnb launched a “cleaning protocol.”

Airbnb called this form of design sprint as “service design:”

Source: Airbnb Design

Airbnb highlighted five principles to this:

1. Tame the complexity by making it tangible

This can be done by creating the first artifact in the form of a blueprint, which helps simply the understanding of the problem at hand.

2. Identify the biggest friction points to focus your design

As the Airbnb’s team highlights some key questions to ask in this stage are:

  • What’s the biggest pain point for our core audience?
  • What point in the journey causes the most drop-off?
  • What’s the biggest pain point for the on-the-ground staff that enables this service?
  • What is the most “expensive” part of the process?

3. Get curious about how your audience is already adapting to this challenge

You can start this process by identifying the key pain points to design for.

Often, as the Airbnb team highlights, your customers might already be solving these in their own way.

Thus, this will give you a headstart in understanding whether you can incorporate these learnings into the product.

4. Identify short-term milestones that support the long-term vision

 Here it’s critical to balance short-term wins with immediate impact with the long-term vision.

This tension between short-term wins and long-term vision helps establish a successful collaboration between operators and strategizers.

5. Consider content opportunities at every level of your service

Another key element is of crafting content that can enhance the UX.

Key takeaways

  • A design sprint is a four or five-day process for testing a new idea through the creation of a prototype for actual users.
  • Design sprints were originally developed by the venture capital arm of Google as a way to foster creative collaboration toward a shared vision.
  • In design sprint 2.0, the five-day process has been shortened to 4 days with more logical and efficient steps. Key stakeholders are also required to be present for less time, thereby increasing the chances that a sprint will accommodate scheduling demands.

Connected Agile Frameworks

AIOps

aiops
AIOps is the application of artificial intelligence to IT operations. It has become particularly useful for modern IT management in hybridized, distributed, and dynamic environments. AIOps has become a key operational component of modern digital-based organizations, built around software and algorithms.

Agile Methodology

agile-methodology
Agile started as a lightweight development method compared to heavyweight software development, which is the core paradigm of the previous decades of software development. By 2001 the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was born as a set of principles that defined the new paradigm for software development as a continuous iteration. This would also influence the way of doing business.

Agile Project Management

agile-project-management
Agile project management (APM) is a strategy that breaks large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. In the APM methodology, each project is completed in small sections – often referred to as iterations. Each iteration is completed according to its project life cycle, beginning with the initial design and progressing to testing and then quality assurance.

Agile Modeling

agile-modeling
Agile Modeling (AM) is a methodology for modeling and documenting software-based systems. Agile Modeling is critical to the rapid and continuous delivery of software. It is a collection of values, principles, and practices that guide effective, lightweight software modeling.

Agile Business Analysis

agile-business-analysis
Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

Business Model Innovation

business-model-innovation
Business model innovation is about increasing the success of an organization with existing products and technologies by crafting a compelling value proposition able to propel a new business model to scale up customers and create a lasting competitive advantage. And it all starts by mastering the key customers.

Continuous Innovation

continuous-innovation
That is a process that requires a continuous feedback loop to develop a valuable product and build a viable business model. Continuous innovation is a mindset where products and services are designed and delivered to tune them around the customers’ problem and not the technical solution of its founders.

Design Sprint

design-sprint
A design sprint is a proven five-day process where critical business questions are answered through speedy design and prototyping, focusing on the end-user. A design sprint starts with a weekly challenge that should finish with a prototype, test at the end, and therefore a lesson learned to be iterated.

Design Thinking

design-thinking
Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.

DevOps

devops-engineering
DevOps refers to a series of practices performed to perform automated software development processes. It is a conjugation of the term “development” and “operations” to emphasize how functions integrate across IT teams. DevOps strategies promote seamless building, testing, and deployment of products. It aims to bridge a gap between development and operations teams to streamline the development altogether.

Dual Track Agile

dual-track-agile
Product discovery is a critical part of agile methodologies, as its aim is to ensure that products customers love are built. Product discovery involves learning through a raft of methods, including design thinking, lean start-up, and A/B testing to name a few. Dual Track Agile is an agile methodology containing two separate tracks: the “discovery” track and the “delivery” track.

Feature-Driven Development

feature-driven-development
Feature-Driven Development is a pragmatic software process that is client and architecture-centric. Feature-Driven Development (FDD) is an agile software development model that organizes workflow according to which features need to be developed next.

eXtreme Programming

extreme-programming
eXtreme Programming was developed in the late 1990s by Ken Beck, Ron Jeffries, and Ward Cunningham. During this time, the trio was working on the Chrysler Comprehensive Compensation System (C3) to help manage the company payroll system. eXtreme Programming (XP) is a software development methodology. It is designed to improve software quality and the ability of software to adapt to changing customer needs.

Lean vs. Agile

lean-methodology-vs-agile
The Agile methodology has been primarily thought of for software development (and other business disciplines have also adopted it). Lean thinking is a process improvement technique where teams prioritize the value streams to improve it continuously. Both methodologies look at the customer as the key driver to improvement and waste reduction. Both methodologies look at improvement as something continuous.

Lean Startup

startup-company
A startup company is a high-tech business that tries to build a scalable business model in tech-driven industries. A startup company usually follows a lean methodology, where continuous innovation, driven by built-in viral loops is the rule. Thus, driving growth and building network effects as a consequence of this strategy.

Kanban

kanban
Kanban is a lean manufacturing framework first developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. The Kanban framework is a means of visualizing work as it moves through identifying potential bottlenecks. It does that through a process called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize engineering processes, speed up manufacturing products, and improve the go-to-market strategy.

Rapid Application Development

rapid-application-development
RAD was first introduced by author and consultant James Martin in 1991. Martin recognized and then took advantage of the endless malleability of software in designing development models. Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a methodology focusing on delivering rapidly through continuous feedback and frequent iterations.

Scaled Agile

scaled-agile-lean-development
Scaled Agile Lean Development (ScALeD) helps businesses discover a balanced approach to agile transition and scaling questions. The ScALed approach helps businesses successfully respond to change. Inspired by a combination of lean and agile values, ScALed is practitioner-based and can be completed through various agile frameworks and practices.

Spotify Model

spotify-model
The Spotify Model is an autonomous approach to scaling agile, focusing on culture communication, accountability, and quality. The Spotify model was first recognized in 2012 after Henrik Kniberg, and Anders Ivarsson released a white paper detailing how streaming company Spotify approached agility. Therefore, the Spotify model represents an evolution of agile.

Test-Driven Development

test-driven-development
As the name suggests, TDD is a test-driven technique for delivering high-quality software rapidly and sustainably. It is an iterative approach based on the idea that a failing test should be written before any code for a feature or function is written. Test-Driven Development (TDD) is an approach to software development that relies on very short development cycles.

Timeboxing

timeboxing
Timeboxing is a simple yet powerful time-management technique for improving productivity. Timeboxing describes the process of proactively scheduling a block of time to spend on a task in the future. It was first described by author James Martin in a book about agile software development.

Scrum

what-is-scrum
Scrum is a methodology co-created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum was primarily thought for software development projects to deliver new software capability every 2-4 weeks. It is a sub-group of agile also used in project management to improve startups’ productivity.

Scrum Anti-Patterns

scrum-anti-patterns
Scrum anti-patterns describe any attractive, easy-to-implement solution that ultimately makes a problem worse. Therefore, these are the practice not to follow to prevent issues from emerging. Some classic examples of scrum anti-patterns comprise absent product owners, pre-assigned tickets (making individuals work in isolation), and discounting retrospectives (where review meetings are not useful to really make improvements).

Scrum At Scale

scrum-at-scale
Scrum at Scale (Scrum@Scale) is a framework that Scrum teams use to address complex problems and deliver high-value products. Scrum at Scale was created through a joint venture between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum Inc. The joint venture was overseen by Jeff Sutherland, a co-creator of Scrum and one of the principal authors of the Agile Manifesto.

Read Also: Business Models Guide, Sumo Logic Business Model, Snowflake

InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

Read Next: SWOT AnalysisPersonal SWOT AnalysisTOWS MatrixPESTEL

Read Next: AgileDevOpsDevSecOpsScrumLeanSprint.

Read Next: New Product Development, Storyboarding, Story Mapping, Business AnalysisCompetitor Analysis, Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

Read Next: Scrum, Design Thinking, Pretotyping.

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