This blog post is part of the "Revisited" series.
I just finished the book Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days - Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz. It describes the Google Design Sprint and how to run one.
The Design Sprint
The sprint gives teams a shortcut to learning without building and launching.
The sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. Developed at GV, it’s a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more—packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.
Working together in a sprint, you can shortcut the endless-debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week. Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, you’ll get clear data from a realistic prototype. The sprint gives you a superpower: You can fast-forward into the future to see your finished product and customer reactions, before making any expensive commitments.
This page is a DIY guide for running your own sprint.
Overview of the process
On Monday, you’ll map out the problem and pick an important place to focus.
On Tuesday, you’ll sketch competing solutions on paper.
On Wednesday, you’ll make difficult decisions and turn your ideas into a testable hypothesis.
On Thursday, you’ll hammer out a high-fidelity prototype.
And on Friday, you’ll test it with real live humans.
Full process can be found here.
"Michael Margolis and Alex Ingram had interviewed staff at cancer clinics, and with help from Amy, they told us how trial enrollment worked" - page 62
The bigger the challenge, the better the sprint - page 26
"Here are three challenging situations where sprints can help :
- High Stakes (before committing to any big changes and projects, the sprint will help to find the right direction),
- Not Enough Time (there is a deadline and the project requires good solutions fast),
- Just Plain Stuck (important projects are hard to start and a fresh approach to problem solving can help to find a way to start)."
The Decider must be involved in the sprint and below are some argument if the Decider is reluctant to spend 5 full days - page 31
- Rapid Progress, emphasize the amount of progress you'll make in your sprint: in just one week, you'll have a realistic prototype. Some Deciders are not excited about customer tests.
- It's an Experiment, consider your first sprint an experiment. When it's over, the Decider can help evaluate how effective it was.
- Explain the Tradeoffs, show the Decider a list of big meetings and work items you and your team will muss during the spring week. Tell her which items you will skip and which you will postpone, and why.
- It's About Focus, be honest about your motivations. If the quality of your work is suffering because your team's regular work schedule is too scattered, say so. Tell the Decider that instead of doing an okay job on everything, you'll do an excellent jon on one thing.
Recruit a team of seven (or fewer) - page 34
|Decider||Who makes decisions for your team ?||CEO, founder, product manager, head of design|
|Finance expert||Who can explain where the money comes from and where it goes ?||CEO, CFO, business development manager|
|Marketing expert||Who crafts your company's messages ?||CMO, marketer, PR, community manager|
|Customer expert||Who regularly talks to your customers one-on-one ?||Researcher, sales, customer support|
|Tech/logistics expert||Who best understands what your company can build and deliver ?||CTO, engineer|
|Design expert||Who designs the products your company makes ?||Designer, product manager|
Nobody knows everything (Ask the experts) - page 70
"Instead, the information is distributed asymmetrically across the team and across the company. In the sprint, you've got to gather it and make sense of it, and asking the experts is the best and fastest way to do that"
- Strategy : start by talking to the Decider
- Voice of the Customer : who talks yo your customers more than anyone else? Who can explain the world from their perspective?
- How Things Work : Who understands the mechanics of your product?
- Previous Efforts : Often, someone on the team has already thought about the problem in detail. That person might have an idea about the solution, a failed experiment, or maybe even some work in progress.
Find Customers for Friday - page 119
"Recruit customers with Craiglist [...] The secret is to post a generic ad that will attract a broad audience, then link to a screener survey to narrow down to your target customers [...] We offer a small stipend or token of appreciation - usually a $100 gift card [...]".
Make honest decisions - page 139
"Sometimes when people work together in groups, they start to worry about consensus and try to make decisions that everybody will approve."
"During the sprint, Oscar had succumbed to camaraderie. He wanted to let the team make the decision. But the idea the team chose wasn't the idea Oscar was most excited about. Later, after the prototyping and testing were over, he reverted to his normal method of decision-making [...]."
Fake it - page 168
"But perhaps the biggest problem is that the longer you spend working on something - whether it's a prototype or a real product - the more attached you'll become, and the less likely you'll be to take negative test results to heart. After one day, you're receptive to feedback. After three months, you're committed".
Pick the right tools (Prototype) - page 186
- If it's on a screen, use Keynote, PowerPoint, or a website-building tool like Squarespace.
- If it's on paper, use Keynote, PowerPoint, or word processing software like Microsoft Word.
- If it's a service, write a script and use your sprint team as actors.
- If it's a physical space, modify an existing space.
- If it's an object, modify an existing object, 3D print a prototype, or prototype the marketing using Keynote or PowerPoint and photos or renderings of the object.
Small Data (Interview, Friday) - page 195
"Newton didn't read the sample pages that evening. Instead, he handed them over to his eight-year-old daughter, Alice. Alice read them. About an hour later, she returned from her room, her face glowing with excitement [...]".
"Alice didn't analyze Harry Potter's potential. She didn't think about cover art, distribution, movie rights, or a theme park. She just reacted to what she read. Those grown-ups tried to predict what children would think, and they were wrong. Alice got it right because she actually was a kid. And her father was smart enough to listen."
The Five-Act Interview - page 202
- A friendly welcome to start the interview
- A series of general, open-ended context questions about the customer
- Introduction to the prototype(s)
- Detailed tasks to get the customer reacting to the prototype
- A quick debrief to capture the customer's overarching thoughts and impressions
Checklists - page 232
"In the following pages, you'll find checklists for every part of your sprint. (You can also find these lists at thesprintbook.com)."