I originally wrote this last year as an internal memo at O’Reilly after attending a design sprint workshop with Jake Knapp in Chicago. The topic of design sprints continues to get raised so I figured I’d share this with a wider audience in the hopes of informing your current or future design processes.
The Design Sprint method was developed out of frustration of continuously working in a linear product launch cycle. Marketing would be brought in at the last minute to package and sell the “thing” that the product team had been working on for 1+ years without doing early iterations or testing.
Jake Knapp felt this discontent in the early days at Microsoft (working on Encarta), then at Google (which was a surprise to him because he thought they had it all figured out!), and again at numerous startups while working at Google Ventures (GV).
“Everyone talked about rapid innovation, but no one was really doing it.”
About this recap
Fast Forward to today. Design sprints are everywhere, but the core concept was incubated inside Google, then refined at GV working with hundreds of startups. This recap is not meant to tell you everything about how sprints work or how to run them. There’s a ton of information online for you to reference (and I’ve linked to some below). I simply wanted to share a summary of the workshop I attended and highlight key notes that stuck out to me throughout the day.
The goal [of the workshop] was to perform the process of facilitating a design sprint for the purposes of taking this back to your team and hosting your own. I highly encourage you to put together a workshop template in an effort to get your team in the same room together ASAP to run one. In the meantime, here are some of the key takeaways from the day that may or may not spark something for you now, but they should resonate later after participating in a sprint (or if you’ve done them before).
Interesting note: The design sprints used inside “Big Google” are slightly different than those used at GV. This workshop focused on the GV method.
The entire design sprint process usually takes five full days and involves several people from each leg of the stool (and other relevant stakeholders). This workshop compressed three of those five days into a single day, so you can imagine it was somewhat high-level, but it was a very dense schedule and we were able to (more or less) go hands on with a majority of the activities that a group would perform during each of those days. A company profile and scenario were prepared ahead of time and we broke into groups of four to walk through each exercise as Jake facilitated the entire group.