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Aside from the obvious speed in which a viable solution can be found, design sprints also break from outdated, committee-based decision making prevalent in many organizations.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

  1. A four-day process. To increase efficiency, procedures have been shortened or streamlined. Perhaps counterintuitively, steps have also been added to increase efficiency.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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 Business Design Frameworks

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.
Scrumban is a project management framework that is a hybrid of two popular agile methodologies: Scrum and Kanban. Scrumban is a popular approach to helping businesses focus on the right strategic tasks while simultaneously strengthening their processes.
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.
The Crystal agile framework is a family of agile methodologies that were developed at IBM by Alistair Cockburn in 1991. The Crystal agile framework focuses on people over processes. It empowers project teams to find their own solutions and not be constricted by rigid methodologies.
Agile Portfolio Management (AgilePfM) is a high-level change management framework that ensures that business change strategy remains under continuous review. AgilePfM reviews changes in a business environment and then coordinates similar changes within the business itself.
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.

Connected Business Model Innovation Frameworks

FourWeekMBA Business Model Framework

business model is a framework for finding a systematic way to unlock long-term value for an organization while delivering value to customers and capturing value through monetization strategies. A business model is a holistic framework to understand, design, and test your business assumptions in the marketplace.

VTDF Tech Business Model Framework

A tech business model is made of four main components: value model (value propositions, missionvision), technological model (R&D management), distribution model (sales and marketing organizational structure), and financial model (revenue modeling, cost structure, profitability and cash generation/management). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build a solid tech business model.

Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas is a framework proposed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur in Busines Model Generation enabling the design of business models through nine building blocks comprising: key partners, key activities, value propositions, customer relationships, customer segments, critical resources, channels, cost structure, and revenue streams.

Lean Startup Canvas

The lean startup canvas is an adaptation by Ash Maurya of the business model canvas by Alexander Osterwalder, which adds a layer that focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics, unfair advantage based, and a unique value proposition. Thus, starting from mastering the problem rather than the solution.

Blitzscaling Canvas

The Blitzscaling business model canvas is a model based on the concept of Blitzscaling, which is a particular process of massive growth under uncertainty, and that prioritizes speed over efficiency and focuses on market domination to create a first-scaler advantage in a scenario of uncertainty.

Business Model Wheel

business model wheel provides a structured approach to defining a business model. Each model wheel is broken down into three core components: offering, monetization, and sustainability. Each component in turn contributes to a total of eight areas that make up an ideal business model.

Business Model Innovation Framework

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.

3C Business Model Analysis

The 3C Analysis Business Model was developed by Japanese business strategist Kenichi Ohmae. A 3C Model is a marketing tool that focuses on customers, competitors, and the company. At the intersection of these three variables lies an effective marketing strategy to gain a potential competitive advantage and build a lasting company.

Read Next: Scrum, Design Thinking, Pretotyping.

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