Design sprints, popularized by Jake Knapp, a design partner at Google Ventures (now called GV), have fundamentally changed how startups and large organizations alike design products, services, and experiences.
To put it simply, a design sprint is a framework created to optimize your chances of creating something that people actually want. Influenced by Eric Ries' Lean Startup principles, design sprints emphasize short time constraints and prototypes, using small, cross-functional teams to quickly iterate and validate ideas. This eliminates, or at least reduces, the odds that a product will be found to be completely useless to the end user after a significant investment of time, effort, and money.
Design sprints have not only been used by Google Ventures to accelerate growth at startups like Slack and Nest, but internally at the parent company to create Gmail and Google X products.
Knapp himself describes the five-day sprint as follows:
- Day 1: Understand: Dig into the design problem through research, competitive review, and strategy exercises.
- Day 2: Diverge: Rapidly develop as many solutions as possible.
- Day 3: Decide: Choose the best ideas and hammer out a user story.
- Day 4: Prototype: Build something quick and dirty that can be shown to users.
- Day 5: Validate: Show the prototype to real humans (in other words, people outside your company) and learn what works and what doesn't work.
In only five days, the team uncovers issues, brainstorms solutions, makes strategic choices, prototypes, and observes real users experiencing the product.
These cross-functional teams focused on the consumer, data, design, and technology short-circuit longer waterfall processes and incorporate agile thinking to do better work, and faster. The business constraints, teamwork, and outcomes of a sprint can inspire and ignite teams forward.
Knapp is the first to admit this model is based on the design thinking methodology created by Stanford's d.school and innovation firm IDEO, now used by creative organizations the world over to create human-centered products and services.
Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. Tim Brown, president and CEO
Not unlike other practitioners of design sprints and thinking, at Digital Surgeons we've primarily used our constrained framework (that includes gamestorming techniques developed by Dave Grey) to build better products, services, and experiences.
But what about brands?