Design Sprint

Skill theme: 
Integration with Delivery Cycles
Integration with Delivery Cycles

User Needs Inception, in the form of structured models like Service Blueprint, Jobs to be Done, and User Personas, opens opportunity to drive more the design process. You may learn through sets of Stakeholder Interview that the larger team does not see the real challenge at hand, or know how to proceed. A punctuated, cross-functional effort like a design sprint will rapidly move a team forward when there is shared basis for alignment, but lack of clarity in direction.

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The challenge

Failures, perceived or actual, are costly and visible to the organization. Larger set of stakeholders involved in complex decisions don’t always work together in a manner that is set up for success. Alignment drifts without collaboration and flexible, open pathways of communication. Without focused activities designed to generate shared understanding and collaborative effort, status quo remains.

The approach

Consider the effort required to bring a team together to “sprint” on a design idea, and what the payoff in direction and alignment will be. You must ensure that the sprint has enough user insights to be worth sprinting on, and insufficient onboarding during the preparation phase will make it difficult for you to fulfill this responsibility. A time-boxed process with a customer validation loop allows you to address complex challenges that require tight coordination between departments; to make sense of what’s at stake for the business, and substantial progress towards implementation. 

Therefore, use your deep understanding of user 's needs to establish the framing for a design sprint. Onboard the team so they are “steeped” in user insight, and clearly agree on the specific design challenge for the sprint. See the sprint through to a designed-and-tested hypothesis that always connects back to user needs. In facilitation, keep your activity instructions crisp, attention and energy levels in the room high, and use the sprint challenge as a north star to guide all conversations towards decisions made. Maintain a clear distinction between owning the process and developing the content—many human skills are crucial for orchestrating and/or facilitating a successful design sprint. 

For mature product practices, you may employ design sprints as a regular activity, either embedded into iterative product cycles or as an established way to kick off new workstreams.

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A successful sprint results in a validated or invalidated solution prototype, as a result of Concept Test nested within the sprint. Your team will be aligned with clarity on the next steps towards implementation. Use the momentum for Research-Driven Design Project and participate in shaping Product Roadmap. Leverage the increase in exposure to structured models and evaluative research for Research Evangelization within the organization.

Last updated:
Apr 28, 2020 19:28


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