26 February 2019Comments are off for this post.

How to save money & reduce risks with Design Sprint

Before we begin we need to clarify the naming issue. You can find many different names of the same thing circulating all over the internet - Design Sprint, Product Discovery Workshops, Service Design Workshops, Product Design Sprint, Innovative Workshops, Google Sprint etc.

We decided to stick to the original name - Design Sprint. If you’re more familiar with a different name - don’t worry, we’re talking about the same thing!

In 2010 Jake Knapp, a Design Partner at Google Ventures, created a time-constrained process that uses design thinking with the aim of reducing the risk when bringing a new product, service or a feature to the market. In those 9 quick years, Design Sprints have taken the world by storm.

At Setapp, we are always trying to use the latest innovations - be it the new technologies or up-to-date processes. We’re constantly looking for ways to be better at what we do. Conducting high-quality Design Sprints is no different. But it’s not a ‘copy & paste’ process for us - while we’re familiar with the original ideas of Jake Knapp, we have taken them and made them our own.

Our Design Sprints are based on Design Sprint 2.0 - a new and improved version of the original idea. Design Sprint 2.0 idea was developed by AJ&Smart to wrap the whole process up in 4 intensive days of creativity and cooperation.

What is a Design Sprint?

So what exactly is a Design Sprint? It’s essentially a 4-day intensive process to develop a working prototype, get feedback from users, build a plan for next steps and understand the full potential of a project.

The whole process is split into two parts. During the first half, we work with a client at our HQ. After that, our designers get back to their rooms to deliver a working prototype, tested on real users. Our clients can then relax and wait for the results of our work.

 

Design Sprint Peter

 
Who takes part in the Design Sprint?

You might ask yourself - who exactly takes part in a Design Sprint? From our side you can usually expect a UX Designer, Software Developer and Scrum Master. Keep in mind though that this composition is flexible. We adjust it to the specific needs of every single client.

From the client’s side, we expect at least three people. It’s up to the client to choose the people best fitted for their project. We recommend picking people most engaged in it, as they will be the source of information for our experts. Usually, CCOs (Chief customer officer), CTOs, Product Owners or Sales Managers are good picks.

It’s also very important to keep in mind that there’s no Setapp Team and Clients’ Team during the Design Sprint. We are one team and we work together towards the common goal. To help us all achieve that, there’s also one additional (yet extremely important) person in the team from our side - the facilitator. He guides everyone through the process, keeps everything in line and makes the whole thing smooth, effective and enjoyable.

 

Design Sprint Group

 
Who should be interested in Design Sprints?

You might be asking yourself - is a Design Sprint for me? Can it resolve my concerns and problems? Does it fit the needs of my project?

Design Sprints are not created to solve all kinds of problems. If your issues are relatively basic, there are other ways to validate them - Design Sprints might be excessive. The same goes with the risks involved with the project. If they’re low and your project is fairly safe to deliver - don’t bother with a Design Sprint.

In general - if you’re very confident that your proposed solutions will be successful and everything is set, then you can spend your time on something different than a Design Sprint. But we know that a lot of your problems are not low risk, simple issues and it’s increasingly harder to be confident in your solutions with no working, tested prototypes.

There are tons of reasons to run a Design Sprint on your project. It’s impossible to include them all here, but we can highlight the ones that are most common:

  • You need a prototype of a project to get funding.
    We are aware that getting funding is a major issue for a lot of startups. Design Sprints are a perfect tool to achieve that - there are not a lot of things that help to sell your project better than a working, tested prototype.
  • You don't want to waste months to start a project.
    As Shirley Temple once said: "Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble". Not a lot of entrepreneurs can wait for months to see the fruits of their labor. Design Sprints allow us to deliver results after just one week of hard work.
  • You get stuck with some kind of barrier and don't know what to do next.
    We’ve seen it many times when great projects were stopped by one issue because the team didn’t know how to overcome it. What’s even worse - we’ve seen teams ignoring the most burning issues because it was the easiest thing to do. Design Sprints can help you overcome even the hardest and most challenging issues you face.
  • You want to reduce risks by creating a working prototype.
    There are so many risks facing every project - financial, technical, external etc. Having a tested working prototype significantly lowers all kinds of risks and boosts your project efficiency.
  • You have a big project but want to check part of it before going full steam ahead.
    Huge projects are rarely delivered all at once. It’s way too risky, it makes no sense financially and it’s really complicated. That’s why it’s important to test and deliver the most important parts of the project separately. That’s when a Design Sprint comes in handy. It’s much easier to deliver the rest of your idea, when you know that the core of it is tested.
  • Your team seems to be out of creative solutions.
    We know that a traditional, lengthy development process is not the perfect environment for creativity. That’s why Design Sprints are so great - because of their condensed program, people involved in them don’t get tired and bored with a process. It’s rare to see so many great ideas in such a short span of time. That’s what we call a culture of innovation.

 

Design Sprint Wall

 
What is the outcome of a Design Sprint?

The outcome of our Design Sprint is an interactive prototype, verified by real users and with a coherent recommendation of what should be your next steps. A Design Sprint's outcome is definitely not some kind of paper prototype or blueprint. You get an interactive prototype that feels and looks like a real product.

You also get a clear vision of what your next steps can look like. It all depends on your project, but if you’re ready for development, you can easily move on from a Design Sprint into an Agile Sprint. That’s when we start coding, engineering and designing to build a final product (or MVP).

What is the most important outcome of the Design Sprint is a validation of your idea. Validation, combined with a tested, working prototype, can give you the confidence that your project is set for success.

 

Design Sprint Desk

 
Recap

A Design Sprint is a great way to kick off a project. It can truly change the client’s perspective, it boosts creativity in a way that normal development can’t and it significantly reduces risks. Obviously, it’s not a solution for everyone. But if your problems are complex, broad, difficult and they’re critical to the success of your project - we can’t recommend Design Sprints enough!

Also check our next article where we discuss in details the whole process of Design Sprints! You will learn how every single day of Design Sprint unfolds and what are the values of each stage.

Crystallise your product vision
With Design Sprint get an interactive prototype in one week

28 August 2018Comments are off for this post.

What can you expect during a Design Sprint? A brief look into the 4 phases

In the previous article on Design Sprint, we introduced you to the framework and its benefits. Now we want to take you through all the Design Sprint phases so that you can get a quick idea of how the process looks, what can you expect during those days, and how it aims to increase your team’s confidence with the problem that you are trying to solve.

Let’s dive in!


UPDATE: The previous version of this article was based on a classic 5-day version of the Design Sprint. It was updated to match the latest 4-days version that we currently offer at Setapp!


The 4 Design Sprint Phases

Design Sprint Process

Monday - Phase 1: Map & Sketch

This is the first day that you and your team will get together to create a path for the whole week by setting a target and uniting everyone under a shared umbrella. It’s important that during this day everyone from the Sprint team is present.

During this phase, you’ll explore the business from all angles and achieve a common understanding of the business, the customer and the problem. This requires you to invite the right people (who can be part of the Sprint team or not) to come and share the business goals, technology capabilities, challenges, and user needs. You’ll focus on exposing the team’s or business’s assumptions and knowledge gaps that exist.

You’ll also talk about what success looks like for the company and what it means for this sprint. From there your team will make plans to fill the riskiest knowledge gaps and work on how you can validate the riskiest assumptions. On day one, you should be able to pick one target to focus on for the rest of the week - the one problem that you can solve and will help you achieve your long-term goal.

Design-Sprints-Phase-Understanding

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

 

These are some of the activities or tools you can use to help you decide on a target for the sprint:

  • Set a long-term goal - to kick off the sprint. 
  • List sprint questions - to rephrase assumptions and obstacles into questions.
  • A simple user journey mapping - to help you pinpoint opportunities and challenges.
  • The ‘How-might-we’ note-taking method and voting - to force the team to look for opportunities and challenges.
  • Lightning talks - to give team members and external experts a voice and a chance to share the knowledge they have built up.
  • Empathy building exercises - to get into the user’s mindset.
  • The five ‘whys’ exercise - to get to the deep root of every problem.

After a half-day of understanding and choosing a target, it’s time to think about the solutions for your sprint. Those will be the fuel for the following days of the sprint!

The next step for the team is to explore as many solutions as possible. This is an important part, because many insights, different perspectives, and approaches will come out from each individual team member.

First, the sprint team meets to warm-up and ‘remix’ existing ideas - in many cases, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, many innovative ideas are built on existing ones. Then, the team should decide what problems they should focus on:

  • is there a specific gap in the user journey map that the entire team should work on? Or
  • are there too many critical points that the team should cover?

In that case, the team should divide among themselves the pieces of the map that they want to tackle. Next, the team should sketch some solutions and you will need... lots of paper!

Design-Sprint-Phase-Sketch

by FirmBee

 

The Sketch phase doesn’t involve any kind of brainstorming sessions, everyone works individually generating competing ideas on paper.  And nope, you don’t have to be a good drawer!

These are some of the activities or tools you can use to help you decide on a target for the sprint:

  • Lightning Demos - to give a short demo of an existing product.
  • Boot up note taking - to collect your thoughts and write down your ideas.
  • The crazy 8s exercise - to choose your 8 strongest ideas and sketch 8 variations.

Tuesday - Phase 2: Decide & Storyboard

On this day, you’ll decide which sketches have the best chance to solve your problem, and then you’ll decide which one(s) will be prototyped. This is done individually first, and then, in a team. The day looks something like this:

  1. Evaluate solutions
  2. Critique all at once
  3. Make a decision all at once
  4. Plan your Prototype

You may start to think that it could be difficult to vote honestly (e.g. people feeling pressured by team leaders) or that it may take too long to reach a consensus. But fear not because there are a variety of tools and methods that help teams to reach a unified plan. Moreover, democracy or camaraderie has not always a place in your sprint. The Decider will give the final ‘Supervotes’, which will be the foundation for your prototype.

Now that you have your winning solution(s), it’s time for the team to put the pieces together and make a plan. You’ll use the Storyboard method - where you imagine your finished prototype and can spot challenges and points of confusions before the ‘real’ thing is built. This will be your step-by-step plan for the next day.

Design-Sprint-Phase-Decide

Photo was taken from ‘Storyboarding, 2.0!’ by Tim Hoeffer.

 

These are some of the activities or tools you can use to help you choose the best solution to focus on:

  • The Sticky decision process - to express everyone’s opinions without lengthy debates.
  • Silent critique - to have a more unbiased and individual critique period.
  • Group critique - after the silent critique, to review and open the discussion of the results.
  • Storyboarding - give a space to dive into the interactions of the ideas.
  • Assumptions Board exercise - to help the team to identify the key questions that your Sprint will help you answer.
  • Decision Matrix - to help the team evaluate ideas

Not sure if Design Sprints are for you? Then read our previous blog post to learn about the benefits and outcomes you’ll get when running this 4-day framework.


Wednesday - Phase 3: Prototype

This is your “fake it till you make it" moment. You’ll take the storyboard that you finished on Tuesday and transform it into a working prototype.

And when I say a ‘working prototype’ I mean a working and realistic-looking facade! There’s no need to have a full-working backend and have every single part of your flow built. You should only build something that looks real enough that will get you an authentic response from your testers.

Design-Sprint-Phase-Prototype

Photo by Jason Wong

 

These are some of the activities or tools you can use to help you build that ‘fake’ prototype:

  • Divide and Conquer - to assign tasks to each team member that fit their skills.
  • Storyboarding - to have a clear plan of what needs to be built.
  • Prototyping tools - to make it as real as possible.

 

Thursday- Phase 4: Test & Validate

This phase is what makes the entire Sprint worthwhile. On Thursday you will test your working prototype with real users and you’ll validate or invalidate your hypothesis. It is recommended to test it with at least 5 users.

During the test phase, your team will interview and observe how users react and interact with your prototype. It’s important that the whole team is present and sees the real-time reactions and feedback of the users. This will allow every team member to capture learnings, insights, and a first-hand experience on how users use your product

Design-Sprint-Phase-Test

Photo by Kobu Agency

 

During this phase, you could involve your UX designer (if you have one) or someone to lead a usability study. Additionally, you should talk with your technical experts and/or leadership stakeholders to give you feedback on your user tests. There’s no way to stress this enough: you will learn so much on day 4. At the end of the day, you will know how much your team still have to go and you’ll know exactly what do next.

These are some of the activities or tools you can use to have a successful testing and validation day:

  • Usability Test - to take critical questions and answer them in your hypothesis.
  • Stakeholder review - to get leadership feedback.
  • Technical review - to make sure you can build your solutions.
  • Sprint Retrospective - to review and summarize the week’s results. 
  • Sprint Planning - to plan what comes next and ensure actionable plans.

 

Outcomes at the end of the Sprint

In a nutshell, you will get a goldmine of insights, you will (in)validate your riskiest assumptions and (hopefully) you will have a clear idea of where to go and what to do next with your product!

Don’t be over excited though. You will not get something even close to an MVP. Remember that MVPs require much more input, work and time than a 4-day process. However, you can consider the Design Sprint a success if at the end you:

  • Learned things you didn't know about your business, product, and users
  • Know where solutions are working and where they are lacking
  • Get a tangible direction on how to propel your solution to the next level

Generally, after a Desing Sprint, some teams keep working on the test results and on how to improve the prototype (something like version 2.0). If it’s not clear what you should do next, you can run a follow-up Sprint to review the Sprint questions and think about new solutions. The learning process could be slow, but what you’ll learn is invaluable.

 

So what's next?

If at the end of the Design Sprint you’re confident and ready when it comes to the solutions that you have validated, then you can move to Agile Sprints: a tech-driven version of DS, where you bring coding, engineering and design to the table to build a real product (or MVP).

For companies and product teams, Design Sprints can be a fantastic way to save tons of money and time on development and design. Agile Sprints offers the same benefits to teams: to adapt quickly to changes, iterate on ideas, identify problems or opportunities faster, test pieces of the software quicker, among others. For instance, here at Setapp, we have our own version of Design Sprints that precede Agile Sprints and we have seen the value, certainty, and direction that it brings to our clients before starting any coding commitments. But that’s another story to tell 😉

PS: don’t forget to read part one of our Design Sprint series (if you haven’t already). You’ll learn about what the Design Sprint is, how it became popular in the product development arena, and the benefits you can get once you run one in your company!

Crystallise your product vision
With Design Sprint get an interactive prototype in one week

7 August 2018Comments are off for this post.

Test and validate your product within 5 days using Design Sprints

Imagine that you’ve just had an epiphany and found the solution to an unanswered problem. “This makes a great business idea. I need to build it!”. Wouldn’t you want to fast-forward to the future and see your finished product and how it interacts with its users? The Design Sprint will give you that superpower.

With this framework, you don’t even have to make any costly commitments. To explain it more thoroughly, I will go through it step-by-step. Firstly, I want to give you an idea of:

  • how the DS came to be
  • what it is
  • what are the benefits of implementing it
  • why it should matter to you

In the next articles, I will address the process (day-by-day), the activities that help unleash a team’s creativity, and lastly, what our process at Setapp looks like. So if you like the idea of cutting to the chase, to end useless debate cycles and compress months of time into a single week, then keep reading!

And btw, if you want to learn how to use Design Sprints to jumpstart your product, let me know and we can have a chat.

The birth of the Design Sprint

‘Efficiency’ and ‘quick results’ became part of our daily vocabulary as businesses and technology started to move faster. Many teams realized that they needed to abandon the traditional non-software inspired waterfall process if they wanted to keep up with new tech and emerging products. As a result, businesses shifted to iterative development methodologies like Scrum to implement measurable quick iterative cycles of development - also called ‘sprints’.

Then around 2010 in Google, Jake Snapp, created the first version of Design Sprints when he was looking for a quicker process to design and launch products rapidly. His framework soon became the ‘de facto’ means of testing & building products throughout Google’s teams which enabled them to launch products in weeks - not months or years!

In 2012, Jake and his colleagues started running the Design Sprints with the portfolio startups of Google Ventures to help them make daring, data-driven, and user-focused decisions. By 2016, their legendary Sprint book came out, and companies like Uber, Slack, Airbnb, Lego, and Medium have used DSs to improve their products and make their businesses more profitable.

So what is a Design Sprint*?

*People often refer to it using different names: Product Discovery Workshops, Service Design Workshops, Product Design Sprint, Innovative Workshops, Google Sprint, and others. For the sake of this article, I’ll refer to it as Design Sprints - it’s original name.

“A Design Sprint is a five-phase framework that helps teams to answer critical business questions through rapid prototyping and user testing”

Based on Design Thinking** methodologies and (Agile) Sprints, the primary goal of a Design Sprint is to reduce the risk of bringing a new product or a new feature of an existing product to the market by building & testing a prototype in only 5 days (Monday to Friday).

** Note that Design Thinking and Design sprints are two different things, while DT is the foundation, philosophy, and a toolkit for innovation, Design Sprints are a specific step-by-step system for producing and testing new products or ideas.

During those 5 days, the Sprint team will go through various phases such as:

  • understanding
  • ideating
  • deciding
  • prototyping
  • testing

 

design sprint 5 days

I will go through this process and phases in detail in my next article.

Who can participate?

The Design Sprint framework is for big companies, startups, individual teams or anyone that needs to generate new (innovative) ideas. It will replace the traditional brainstorming meetings with an idea-generation machine consisting of a multidisciplinary team.

The Sprint team should consist of 7 or fewer members and people from different disciplines is invited. Be it a marketing or customer service representative, Head of Software Development, CEO, and designers… all experts can participate in the 5-day Sprint sessions. This way, the team of experts - and the decision-maker - can solve problems together more smartly and effectively.

design sprint

Why run a Design Sprint?

If at this moment you - as an entrepreneur, Product Manager, CEO, or Customer Service Leader, etc. - have….

  • An idea for a product or service
  • A problem that you can’t find a viable solution for
  • An MVP that needs it’s solutions to be validated
  • A product that doesn’t engage users
  • A product that requires new features to keep up with competitors

Then Design Sprints are perfect for tackling any of those! Of course, there are many different reasons for teams to run a Design Sprint. It’s important to note that based on their intentions and goals the methods used in the Sprint should be personalized to each case and team. You will get more information on this in my next articles.

Do you share these challenges? Book a call and discover how design sprint can help you achieve your goals

Here are some of the benefits of running a Design Sprint:

1. You save tons of time.

Remember it’s 5 days, and you’ll get the results of the equivalent of 5 months worth of meetings, emails exchanges, and consultations. The smooth collaboration between members of different disciplines and with different skill sets can (and will) spark creativity. As a result, in a very short time frame you will:

  • get real solutions to problems
  • to speed up product discovery
  • help the team to gain crucial knowledge and learnings

2. You save money.

More often than not, many teams build a product that will have to be re-built months later. With DSs, anyone can spot opportunities and risks in those 5 days that will save the team from horror nights. The faster you know what solutions or problems you need and can solve, the quicker you’ll create your prototypes.

3. You take user-centered decisions.

You’ll be working with people from different disciplines and a facilitator, who will oblige everyone to work with respect, empathy, and openness. The team's structure will make everyone to be aware of the customer’s needs, motivations, problems, and expectations at all times. Also, the tools and activities are built around the end-customer, and therefore, during those 5 days the team will try to listen, trust and develop meaningful relationships with them.

4. You get deliverables.

At the end of the Sprint you will not get estimations, speculations or RFPs, but real user-validated prototypes. Moreover, you’ll be part of the whole process: ideation, sketching, prototyping, and testing!

Design Sprints are built in a way where the creativity of every team member will be unleashed.  It doesn't matter if you are not good with sketching, coding, or with numbers. Every team member’s skills will be used to its best and in an effective way. Remember that it’s only a prototype!

Key Takeaways

Design Sprints are not the answer to all your product development problems. You also don’t want to be running Sprints for every single idea, doubt or new feature you want to have. That’s not the point.

You want to use DS when you have encountered an obstacle or/and a complex problem that it’s a critical business opportunity or challenge.  For example, launching your product to a new market, targeting a new customer segment or introducing a feature that will fundamentally change the whole UX of your product.

Also, I want to stress again some of the reasons why Design Sprints would be an excellent addition to your product development efforts. You will:

  • Solve the most complex problems
  • Make your product/feature user-centered
  • Increase your team’s speed and effectiveness to take critical decisions
  • Find the potential risks and opportunities of a product/feature fast
  • Reduce bureaucracy
  • Effectively gather and collaborate within departments
  • Test an idea and prototype quick

In my next article, I am going to go through each day of the design sprint to show you how it all works. Stay tuned!


At Setapp, we have our version of Design Sprints. Our team has mostly used it to help our clients to design and kickstart new products or features. We have seen the value, certainty and excellent results that it brings to our clients.

If you want to find out how you can run a design sprint in your company, send us an email and we'll be happy to tell you more.

 

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+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

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OUR OFFICES

PL: Wojskowa 6, 60-792 Poznań, Poland
+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

ISR: 220 Hertzel Street, 7630003 Israel

COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.

VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

OUR OFFICE

Wojskowa 6, 60-792 Poznań, Poland
+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.

VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

 COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.
VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

OUR OFFICES

POL: Wojskowa 6, 60-792 Poznań, Poland
+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

ISR: 220 Hertzel Street, 7630003 Israel

COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.
VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

OUR OFFICES

PL: Wojskowa 6, 60-792 Poznań, Poland
+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

ISR: 220 Hertzel Street, 7630003 Israel

COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.

VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

OUR OFFICE

Wojskowa 6, 60-792 Poznań, Poland
+48 506 798 998
office@setapp.pl

COMPANY DATA

Setapp Sp. z o.o.

VAT ID: PL7781465185
REGON: 301183743
KRS: 0000334616

PRIVACY POLICY

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