What is a Design Sprint? Created at Google Ventures, a Design Sprint represents a methodology that helps teams complete a five-day workshop for building and testing some problem-solving product or solution (prototype).  A prototype might include a product on a screen, on paper, a service, a physical space, or an object.

Created by Google Venture’s Jake Knapp, along with Braden Kowitz and John Zeratsky, a Design Sprint leads participants from an abstract idea to a workable prototype. The five-day deadline, intensive teamwork, and facilitative focus provide an effective way to generate ideas and evaluate them quickly. The title of their book published in 2016 is “Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days”.  According to the creators, they used Design Sprints on everything from Google Search to Google X.  Not surprisingly, the Design Sprint method relies heavily on methodology led through highly effective, professional facilitation.

Design Sprint Workshop

Design Sprint Agenda

We recently collaborated with Jessica Olsen, CSPF from The Doolittle Institute to build a five-day agenda (the creators never mention the term ‘agenda’ and prefer using a checklist) based on the Design Sprint methodology.  We have liberally modified some of their suggested tools to include MG RUSH tools provided in our Certified Structured Professional Facilitator training.  Note in particular that we have a distaste for voting because it involves winners and losers.  As consensus fighters, we provide decision-making options based on using criteria and structured analysis.

As described by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, “listen in if you have a big opportunity, challenge, or idea and need perspective, insights, and practical answers.”

Design Sprint Agenda — Day One, MAPPING

Agenda Step

Estimated Time

Notes and Tools

Introduction

15 to 45 minutes Duration depends on quantity of participants and length of icebreakers.  Follow the MG RUSH Introductory seven-step introductory sequence, stressing roles:

  1. Introduce yourself: stress neutrality, meeting roles, and workshop impact.
  2. State the workshop purpose and get agreement.
  3. Confirm the workshop scope and get agreement.
  4. Show the workshop deliverables and get agreement.
  5. Cover the administrivia (eg, safety moment).
  6. Explain workshop Day Four agenda (preferably through metaphor or analogy).
  7. Share the ground rules.

a)     (Optionally) Have the attendees introduce themselves

b)    Have Decider[1] make some quick rah-rah comments

Long-term Goal

15 to 75 minutes Using Breakout Teams, treat much like a vision statement of the prototype being built. Consider using either the Purpose tool or the Temporal Shift tool.

Questions

30 to 60 minutes Using Breakout Teams, develop a list of Design Sprint Questions to be answered by the end of the fifth day. Consider using three of the Six Thinking Hats tool, and in this sequence, namely:

  • White Hat (Neutral Objectivity) — Questions about data, facts, figures, information, examples, and other types of evidence
  • Black Hat (Logical Negative) — Questions about risk, problems, obstacles, and likely causes of failure reaching the vision
  • Red Hat (Emotional View) — Questions about biased views, hunches, “gut”, and feelings

Mapping

30 to 60 minutes Using Breakout Teams, build something akin to a process flow diagram.  Consider using the Creativity tool to capture key customer benefits, applications, or other uses. In the words of the authors:

“List customers and key players on the left. Draw the ending, with your completed goal, on the right. Finally, make a flowchart in between showing how customers interact with your product. Keep it simple: five to fifteen steps.” (pg 66) [2]

Expert Views

60 to 120 minutes Facilitate expert views from your Design Sprint team and guests from the outside. For about fifteen to thirty minutes each, capture their vision, research, how things work, and previous efforts or considerations. Other team members listen, observe, and write down notes. Consider strengthening your questions with the Perspectives tool.

How Might We (HMWs)

30 to 60 minutes Team members convert their notes into opportunity statements (HMWs), akin to Scrum Stories. Use the Purpose tool format. Consider strengthening your questions with the Perspectives tool (pg 75).

Prioritizing

30 to 60 minutes First consolidate with the Categorizing tool or some equivalent approach.  Consider various and appropriate prioritization tools ranging from Perceptual Mapping to the Decision Matrix tool. (NOTE: If using an MG RUSH tool, note that you will separately need to build criteria and apply the prioritized criteria against the HMWs.) For less formal cultures, consider a Scrum method of prioritization such as the Team Circle or even Planning Poker. The creators recommend voting (pg 80).

Updating

30 to 60 minutes Given new input from the experts and the HMWs, consolidate into an updated Long-term Goal, updated Questions, and a consolidated map.

Selection and Testing

15 to 30 minutes According to the creators, “Circle your most important customer and one target moment on the map. The team can weigh in, but the Decider makes the call.” Test back to Long-term Goal to ensure alignment.

Review, Preview, and Wrap

5 to 15 minutes Use the standard MG RUSH four-activity approach, namely:

  1. Review and summarize what the group accomplished.
  2. Review any open items: assign responsibility and detail how the group can expect to be updated.
  3. Guardian of change: determine what the group agrees to tell their superiors and other stakeholders.
  4. Improvement: use a quick Plus/ Delta for any quick fixes needed over the next four days.

  Day One Things We Like

  • Remember to take breaks every sixty to ninety minutes 
  • ABC: Always be capturing
  • Take care of humans

 Day One Things We Would Change

  • Ask for permission. Ask the group for permission to facilitate. NOTE: The facilitator does not need to ask to do their job. They will properly confirm roles and impact during the Introductory sequence.
  • Keep asking, “How should I capture that?” NOTE: (With a marker silly.) Rhetorical precision demands that the question ought to confirm WHAT we captured provides an accurate reflection of the speaker’s intent.
  • Decide and move on. Slow decisions sap energy and threaten the sprint timeline. If the group sinks into a long debate, ask the Decider to make a call. NOTE: Poor quality decisions sap precious resource. Long debates are not available when the method and discussion are structured, especially when the focus of decision-making ought to be on the criteria and not on the options.

 

Design Sprint Agenda — Day Two, SKETCHING

Agenda Step

Estimated Time

Notes and Tools

Introduction

5 to 10 minutes Follow the MG RUSH Introductory seven-step introductory sequence, stressing roles:

  1. Reconfirm meeting roles and impact of deliverable.
  2. Review the workshop purpose and get agreement.
  3. Review the workshop scope and get agreement.
  4. Reconfirm the workshop deliverables and get agreement.
  5. Cover administrivia (eg, safety moment).
  6. Explain workshop Day Four agenda (preferably through metaphor or analogy).
  7. Reconfirm the ground rules.

Lightning Demos

2 to 3 hours Take turns providing three-minute tours of favorite solutions from other products and domains within the same company. Capture all the ‘big ideas’ preferably using both narrative and sketching. Based on personal favorites, biases, or expertise, decide on afternoon assignments.

Notes

15 to 45 minutes For each person, articulate, codify, and confirm (pg 110).

Ideas

15 to 45 minutes Have each make some rough doodle sketches (pg 111).

Crazy 8

10 to 15 minutes Have each follow the Crazy 8 sketching method (pg 112).

Sketches

30 to 60 minutes For each, create three-panel storyboard showing customers throughout the solution. Keep in mind the following rules:

  • Make it self-explanatory
  • Keep it anonymous
  • Ugly is OK
  • Words matter (rhetorical precision)
  • Give it a catchy title

Review, Preview, and Wrap

5 to 15 minutes Use the standard MG RUSH four-activity approach, namely:

  1. Review and summarize what the group accomplished.
  2. Review any open items: assign responsibility and detail how the group can expect to be updated.
  3. Guardian of change: determine what the group agrees to tell their superiors and other stakeholders.
  4. Improvement: use a quick Plus/ Delta for any quick fixes needed over the next three days.

 Day Two Things We Like

  • NOTE: Effective facilitation of discussion around the Demos becomes critical.

 Day Two Things We Would Change

  • Referring to a 1959 Yale study on brainstorming as ineffective. NOTE: We’re willing to bet that ideation rules were not imposed and that the analysis component was very weak. Listing is easy, it’s the analyzing that’s tough and it requires structure to break down issues into focal points for facilitated discussion and consensual understanding.

 

Design Sprint Agenda — Day Three, DECIDING

Agenda Step

Estimated Time

Notes and Tools

Introduction

5 to 10 minutes Follow the MG RUSH Introductory seven-step introductory sequence, stressing roles:

  1. Reconfirm meeting roles and impact of deliverable.
  2. Review the workshop purpose and get agreement.
  3. Review the workshop scope and get agreement.
  4. Reconfirm the workshop deliverables and get agreement.
  5. Cover administrivia (eg, safety moment).
  6. Explain workshop Day Four agenda (preferably through metaphor or analogy).
  7. Reconfirm the ground rules.

Prototype Selection

2 to 4 hours Consider the creators’ method described below or substitute a more rigorous decision-making tool such as a Perceptual Map or a Decision Matrix or both.
Art Museum Pre-work Should be done the night before by affixing sketches on the wall, friendly for touring, like an art museum.
Heat Map pg 133 In silence the creators recommend applying dot stickers to the most compelling parts or ideas, one sketch at a time.
Speed Critique pg 136 Discuss the compelling parts of each sketch, one sketch at a time, for three minutes. The original sketcher then replies if they feel the group missed something. Capture stand out ideas and review concerns and questions.
Straw Poll pg 138 The creators recommend each team member place one vote on their favorite and support it with their rationale.
Decision
(Supervote)
pg 141 Creators prefer ‘Note and Vote’ with Decider making the final decision. The advantage with the creators’ method is the combining of elements from multiple sketches, as parts of each sketch, rather than the entire sketch, may be used to build the forthcoming prototype.

Rumble

(Optional) Decide if the winning ideas can fit into one prototype, or if conflicting ideas require two or three competing proto-types (a Rumble). Note and Vote instructions on pg 146.

Storyboard

2 to 4 hours Build a storyboard to frame the prototype. The creators’ method recommends drawing a large grid, selecting on opening scene, and a flow that might be expected from the customer’s point of view. Illustrations are preferred over narrative comments.

Review, Preview, and Wrap

5 to 15 minutes Use the standard MG RUSH four-activity approach, namely:

  1. Review and summarize what the group accomplished.
  2. Review any open items: assign responsibility and detail how the group can expect to be updated.
  3. Guardian of change: determine what the group agrees to tell their superiors and other stakeholders.
  4. Improvement: use a quick Plus/ Delta for any quick fixes needed over the next two days.

Day Three Things We Like

  • Illustrations are preferred over narrative comments. NOTE: A picture is worth a thousand words and a sketch (metaphor or analogy) is worth a thousand pictures.

Day Three Things We Would Change

  • NOTE: With the proper method, consensus can be driven but you MUST consider criteria discretely from options.

Design Sprint Agenda — Day Four, PROTOTYPING

Agenda Step

Estimated Time

Notes and Tools

Introduction

5 to 10 minutes Follow the MG RUSH Introductory seven-step introductory sequence, stressing roles:

  1. Reconfirm meeting roles and impact of deliverable.
  2. Review the workshop purpose and get agreement.
  3. Review the workshop scope and get agreement.
  4. Reconfirm the workshop deliverables and get agreement.
  5. Cover administrivia (eg, safety moment).
  6. Explain workshop Day Four agenda (preferably through metaphor or analogy).
  7. Reconfirm the ground rules.

Prototyping

4 to 6 hours Assign roles: Makers, Stitcher, Writer, Asset Collectors, and Interviewer. Consider breaking the storyboard into smaller scenes and assign each scene among team members (pg 187).
  Making (two or more team members)
  Stitching
  Writing
  Asset Collections (two or more team members)
  Interviewing

Trial Run

30 to 60 minutes Identify necessary corrections, ensuring that the Decider and Friday’s Interviewer attend.

Calibrations

30 to 60 minutes Make changes, finish prototype, and finalize Interviewer guide for Friday.

Review, Preview, and Wrap

5 to 15 minutes Use the standard MG RUSH four-activity approach, namely:

  1. Review and summarize what the group accomplished.
  2. Review any open items: assign responsibility and detail how the group can expect to be updated.
  3. Guardian of change: determine what the group agrees to tell their superiors and other stakeholders.
  4. Improvement: use a quick Plus/ Delta for any quick fixes needed over the final day.

 Day Four Things We Like

  • Divide and Conquer. NOTE: Assigning discrete roles for building the prototype(s).
  • Suggestions in Kick-Off Slides:
    • If your product is on a screen, try tools like Keynote or PowerPoint and InVision or Marvel.
    • If it’s on paper, design it with Keynote, PowerPoint, or Word.
    • With a service, 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.
  • Goldilocks quality. NOTE: Create a prototype with just enough quality to evoke honest reactions from customers (pg 170).

 Day Four Things We Would Change

  • NOTE: Day Four is a solid, collaborative, and productive day—well constructed.

 

Design Sprint Agenda — Day Five, TESTING

Agenda Step

Estimated Time

Notes and Tools

Introduction

1 to 2 hours Create two rooms, one for interviews and one for observation. Position hardware and set up video stream to the observers’ room (pg 202).

Five Interviews

4 to 6 hours Following Interviewing protocols for prototyping
(pg 212).  Team members capture notes, issues, successes, and problems.

Notes

Concurrent Gather notes on a pre-built grid using a row for each prototype or section of a prototype and a column for each customer being interviewed (pg 219).

Patterns

30 to 60 minutes Observe, discuss, and capture using Notes above (pg 222).

Back to the Future

30 to 60 minutes Review Sprint Questions from Day One. Decide which patterns are most important moving forward. Also, review Long-term Goal from Monday to fortify next steps. Stress the opportunity from both the successes and the failures.

Next Steps

30 to 60 minutes Agree on action plan going forward and consider applying some type of Roles and Responsibilities Matrix such as a RASI chart using the MG RUSH method for budget, timing, and resource estimations. Allow for the possibility of additional Sprints (on the same topic), albeit likely briefer than five days (See Kick-off slide #45).

Review, Preview, and Wrap

5 to 15 minutes Use the standard MG RUSH four-activity approach, namely:

  1. Review and summarize what the group accomplished.
  2. Review any open items: assign responsibility and detail how the group can expect to be updated.
  3. Guardian of change: determine what the group agrees to tell their superiors and other stakeholders.
  4. Improvement: use a more substantial Evaluation Form to obtain feedback on overall performance.

 

Day Five Things We Like

  • Incredible capacity of structured, group activities.

Day Five Things We Would Change

  • Voting: Need we say more?

 

[1] ‘Decider’ is one of three primary roles in a Design Sprint, the other primary roles include ‘Facilitator’, ‘Interviewer’, and ‘Sprint Team.

[2] Refers to page number in the creators’ book, “Sprint – How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days”.  Additionally, the MG RUSH style encourages using less periods (full stops) than in American English.

______

Finally, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on providing methodology. Each student thoroughly practices methodology and tools before class concludes. Some call this immersion. We call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Become Part of the Solution While You Improve Your Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology Skills

Take a class or forward this to someone who should. MG RUSH Professional Facilitation Training provides an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, and 3.2 CEUs. As a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), our Professional Facilitation Training aligns with IAF Certification Principles and fully prepares alumni for their Certified Professional Facilitator designation.

Furthermore, our Professional Facilitation curriculum immerses students in the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Because nobody is smarter than everybody, attend an MG RUSH Professional Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology workshop offered around the world, see MG RUSH for a current schedule.

Go to the Facilitation Training Store to access our in-house resources. You will discover numerous annotated agendas, break timers, and templates. Finally, take a few seconds to buy us a cup of coffee and please SHARE.

In conclusion, we dare you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Monthly Facilitation blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

Visit Our Website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.