Organize a successful Design Sprint

The Design Sprint is a methodology made by Jake Knapp from Google Ventures that aims to develop and test an idea in the span of only four days. It’s a powerful tool used to directly confront your ideas with your users while avoiding wasting too many financial assets.

Having led many Design Sprints with diverse teams, I wanted to share some tips and tricks I found useful, things that require attention to be able to organize a successful Design Sprint, so watch out here they come!

Do you work, research before your Sprint

A Design Sprint can’t answer on its own about why and to whom your product is addressed. It’s essential that you integrate it in a global Design Thinking Methodology and that you lead some research on your users, their needs, and pain points before organizing your Sprint, as this knowledge will be useful for your team during the Sprint. Search for pain points, verbatim, personas, answers to your survey (you can find here more information about UMUX Lite & NPS) …

Gather the right team

I see too often Sprints organized with the Product Team or with people on the same level. It’s a real trap to avoid. To be useful and powerful, your Sprint must gather a diversity of profiles. Include developers, marketing, product, and support team. Because what’s the point to work on a solution if it’s not technically feasible?

Include your support team

Your support team works day to day to answer your user's problems and pain points. Often teams don’t include them because of some class division inside the company, but by doing that, you’re removing yourself from a gold mine of information about your users and the value this team can bring to the table.

Be strict on the time

A Design Sprint is fast and requires a lot of work, it’s essential that you keep track of the time of your exercise to avoid being in a hurry and having to remove important exercises. Often when you start doing Design Sprints you’re too afraid to ask your participants to respect those timeframes, but it’s essential. The methodology offers everyone the chance to present and share their point of view, be mindful of your time and give the possibility to speak to every member of your team.

Bring an owner

Often managers and people with some power are hard to navigate within a Sprint. But they are essential, as it’s those profiles that will help to spread and move forward with your solution in the company. Try to decide in advance with exercises you’ll need the owner to decide on so that you can navigate around their schedule accordingly. And for those profiles, I tend to allow them to bring their laptops as they’re impossible to onboard without.

Let the owner vote last

If you let people speak freely all together, you will quickly realize that the team tends to strangely vote exactly the same as the most powerful person at the table, how strange! To avoid that, ask this person to always be the last to vote or talk. The Design Sprint already gives them more power, don’t destroy the work you can realize by creating a space where people act on fear. Another tip I saw in action was to ask participants to put their votes behind post-its or prototypes so that they’re not influencing others, give it a try!

Don’t fear the pencil, be the pencil

A lot of people are afraid to draw because they were often told they were unable to draw, bad a drawing, … In those case, don’t hesitate to take the pencil yourself and show them the imperfections: pencil drew wireframes, wonky paper prototypes, stick people, … Explain to them that the most important part is to communicate an idea, not draw a Botticelli. Even a lot of rectangles put together can express an idea!

Don’t aim for perfection

Too often teams are afraid to show users something they consider to be too drafty. In the idea of Sprint, it’s essential to go test your idea with your users as fast as possible, because you can always have misunderstood something or made a mistake. It’s essential to quickly test with your users to avoid financial waste, every workday you spend on creating a perfect prototype could lead to losses. Aim for a “good enough” prototype with the right content, don’t focus on the look.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Sprints can be hard to handle but they are a powerful tool that can lead to a lot of good results while allowing yourself to quickly iterate and test your team’s ideas. As you aim for a “good enough” prototype, don’t put too much pressure on yourself either and allow you to be just that, “good enough”!

UX Designer & User Researcher • Human Jukebox • Book Eater • Human After All