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Design Sprint is your new Superpower

Edijs Bogomolovs
UX designer

Design Sprint (DS) is the process of validating your team’s ideas and solving big challenges through prototyping and testing those ideas together with your customers. This increasingly popular process not only brings ideas to life but also helps teams bond over the shared experience.

A typical DS is a five-day process, during which, the participants answer critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing. Each Sprint helps your team shed a unique perspective on potential solutions, identify patterns, weak points, and learnings — elements that team members will have to verify and explore throughout a specific project.

Design Sprints are the fastest way of defining a problem and finding a solution. The goal of any DS is to bring people together to answer questions, generate solutions, and test them with real customers.

Common Design Mistakes

One of the most common design mistakes is made when teams start designing a product or service without conducting real user tests first. Without turning to end-users, designers are operating solely based on their own assumptions. And we know what they say about assumptions. It’s little wonder that 7 out of 10 products fail due to wrong design solutions.

Why Design Sprint Is Your New Superpower

Design Sprints can help your entire team answer tough questions quickly and turn assumptions into bonafide facts. Imagine your entire team coming together, cutting through all the usual noise and creating meaningful, valuable work that much faster. Together.

Getting your team together in one space has another underlying benefit — it encourages meaningful dialogue whilst creating quality solutions. If someone disagrees or has a counter-proposal, that opinion can be addressed and discussed right then and there. No wasted time sending emails or slack messages back and forth.

The current way of work is becoming increasingly challenged by modern professionals seeking an energy-based working environment. As Dropboxe’s David Vallance points out, experts are increasingly suggesting that we structure our lives around energy, not time. The rising popularity of Design Sprints is the result of a workforce that’s frustrated by and is seeking more than the standard unproductive busy-work.

Design Sprints are all about speed, discovery, and creativity. Speed saves companies time and money. The discovery process reveals a potential solution based on real-world data. Getting people together boosts creativity and creates an enjoyable workflow. You get the most out of your team’s knowledge. So don’t invest months of your time, invest in a week.

What Makes A Good Design Sprint

A good Design Sprint aligns your team around a real or hypothetical problem with the aim of designing and testing your solution hypothesis. A good DS helps your team understand all aspects of a problem. This is a great technique for transforming existing products or service opportunities into something bigger.

Facts will always be lower risk variables than assumptions because they have evidence to back them up. Yet dangerous assumptions are often lurking underneath every goal. And the longer those assumptions remain unexamined, the greater the risk. During a Sprint, you have a golden opportunity to ferret out assumptions, turn them into questions, and continue operating with cold, hard facts.

Wasting time on the wrong thing can feel beyond demotivational. Remember that 7 out of 10 products fail due to the wrong solution. A good Design Sprint brings your team together to define a real or hypothetical problem and design an experiment to test this hypothesis. A good Design Sprint helps your team grasp all aspects of the problem.

When To Use A Design Sprint

A Design Sprint is the fastest way of testing whether a product is worth developing, a feature is worth the effort, or if your value proposition is actually valid. We say — don’t invest months of your time to validate your hypothesis. Invest a week.

Design Sprints are likewise recommended for testing entirely new products, validating new features on existing products and improving existing product experiences. The entire process is great for reducing risk, clearing up ambiguity, and unpacking complex problems. The leanest enterprises are using Design Sprints to explore solutions for every imaginable setback — from a complex system to a marketing strategy.

The Main Goal Of A Design Sprint

The purpose of a Design Sprint is to answer a set of vital questions. These answers are then used to direct the team’s attention to potential solutions. A sprint implies a time limit and a clear goal. The main goal of a sprint is just that — to help your team come together and test potential solutions to what they understand, is the problem. A time constraint helps — it indicates that this task, this experiment must be achieved within a specific time frame.

Regular sprints usually take 3–5 days. Their duration doesn’t alter its process though — teams come together and pick a target. They then select the most likely solutions and agree on the best solution. Teams then create a realistic prototype and simulate a finished product for their customer(s).

Traditional Approach vs. Design Sprint

Traditionally ideas and solutions are typically managed by a few. They are based on their own assumptions and bias. In a traditional approach, the process of achieving common goals is viewed as ‘work’. Collaboration is isolated and guarded, performance is expected. This process model can lead to emotional outbursts and even breakdowns. It’s neither enjoyable nor inspiring.

A Design Sprint rallies your team to commit to each other, co-create and win together. The entire process is based on a user-centered mindset. Each project is treated as an opportunity to create better solutions.

What Is The Outcome Of A Design Sprint

The outcome of every Design Sprint session is a high-fidelity interactive prototype, tested by real users and offering clear insights on the next steps. The end result is not a “wireframe” or a “paper prototype” but rather a creation that looks and feels like a real product.

Rapid user insights within the process provide the team with learnings and validation. They also instill confidence about what user product experience should and shouldn't  be like. A DS enables teams to test risky ideas quickly.

A Design Sprint usually results in an idea validation or problem-solution based on real-world data. It’s a fast track to separating assumptions from facts.

Reading material:

Enterprise Design Sprints

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

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