Why does everyone ‘sprint’ everywhere now ?

In the curious world of innovation practice, it seems you can’t move anywhere now without someone ‘sprinting’. Before we explore this phenomenon any further it’s worth explaining there are at least two different types of sprint and they are very different.

The Design sprint – this process uses the theory of design thinking (previous blog post here ) to solve big problems, develop solutions, build prototypes and test with real customers in just five days.

The Agile sprint - usually occurs after a design sprint and is used by product teams when starting to move away from prototypes to actually building your digital product. It’s a fixed time slot; typically, a week when developers are adding features to a new product, at the end of the which the features should be completed.

Anyone can run a Design sprint but an Agile sprint is really a tool used by developers. In this blog we’ll share some thinking on the Design sprint.

The Design Sprint methodology was developed by Jake Knapp at Google Ventures and has been tried and tested with thousands of companies including Slack and Uber. It brings together a cross functional team for five days and moves them from problem mapping to testing prototypes with real customers.

· Monday – Find the problem worth solving by asking the experts to learn loads about the problem

· Tuesday – Gather new stimulus, to generate new ideas and sketch potential solutions

· Wednesday – As a team decide on the best solution and make a storyboard

· Thursday – Build a realistic prototype and get ready for testing

· Friday – Test your prototype with some real customers and learn some new stuff

In 2016, Jake and his partners wrote their best-selling book ‘Sprint’. The book is an easy read and details exactly what you need to do to run a Design sprint. It’s packed with real life examples and even provides a checklist for each day of the sprint, going as far as detailing the size of Post-it notes and how many healthy snacks to buy. It really is a super helpful book and written in such a compelling way that it feels more like a handbook than a business book.

Why Executives like Design Sprints

· Super-fast - To go from a problem statement to testing with customers in five days is incredibly fast. Back in the day it would take that long to organise an external agency to run a focus group.

· Cheap - Building a cross functional team by taking people 6-7 key people out of a business does incur a cost, compared to the cost of a failed product launch a Design sprint is a really efficient way to test new ideas.

· Delivery of Engaging Prototypes - a realistic prototype can bring an idea to life in a way that a concept drawing never can. It allows people to see the art of the possible and to constructively build and shape new ideas. In our experience, Executives particularly like sharing prototypes at Board sessions; let’s face it a digital prototype is a lot more interesting than a PowerPoint presentation.

· Compelling Customer feedback - It’s very difficult to argue with a video of a customer using a realistic prototype as they tell you what they like and don’t like about your new product. We find Executives particularly like this sort of evidence-based feedback as they seek further investment from a Group level or a Financial controller.

· Makes them sound cool - well, because everyone is sprinting; right ?

So, if you fancy having a go at running a Design sprint then we would really encourage you to grab the book and have a go. The book is easy to use and designed to encourage teams to just start. Or, if you would like to work with us to deliver your first sprint, we can ensure we upskill you as part of our process so you feel confident to deliver the next sprint on your own. If you would like to hear more stories about Design sprints, then please get in touch at For our next blog we'll focus on some of our top tips learnt from running Design sprints.

#designthinking #sprint #designsprint


Recent Posts

See All