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If you’re into design thinking, what’s coming out of Google, or the tech world in general, you might have heard about design sprints, the four- or five-day collaboration process that ends with a designed and tested prototype. Originally invented by Jake Knapp during his time at Google and later perfected in his book Sprint, design sprints have helped modern companies rapidly iterate and prototype new ideas, allowing for innovation unlike anything we’ve seen throughout human history. At Toi, we’ve had a chance to run many design sprints for our clients and we’ve learned there are a lot of positive outcomes to running a sprint that can jumpstart any project or initiative.
Here are 5 great reasons to run a design sprint that really can make a difference for solving big challenges and problems:
Tear down the silos
The design sprint is, in large part, an intensive collaboration process that brings people from various departments in a room for a week to work together to take on problems and come up with ideas to solve them. This provides a great opportunity to get marketers, designers, technologists, business leaders, and others to work together in a way they probably haven’t done in previous projects. By expanding the scope of expertise in the room, design sprints enable teams to think creatively without the traditional limitations set by their respective disciplines. Further, exposing different team members to the processes and philosophies of other departments helps to broaden their horizons and can even uncover ways to improve you might not have previously thought of!
'Design sprints enable teams to think creatively without the traditional limitations set by their respective disciplines.' - David DeMember, Toi Click To Tweet
Everyone is a designer
One of the biggest misconceptions with the design sprint is that it is primarily for UX designers. While UX designers certainly have a lot to gain from running design sprints, the real strength of the process resides in its ability to incorporate non-designers into the design process. Great sprint teams don’t necessarily need to include a UX-specialist; in fact, some of the best sprint teams can be made up of product managers, marketing professionals, engineers, and business-minded folks.
Everyone gets a voice
The design sprint is quite literally structured to give everyone from the CEO all the way to the junior developer an opportunity to voice their ideas and opinions. There isn’t an opportunity for a ton of talking in a design sprint, but there are opportunities to give everyone a chance to bring an idea to the table, which can be important when making big decisions. Business leaders are great and are successful for a reason but that shouldn’t discount the ideas of what others in a meeting can come up with. Great ideas come out of the design sprint because all of the ideas are heard.
This isn’t a meeting or brain dump
The design sprint is not a meeting with a large amount of open discussion and little insights, takeaways, or action. The design sprint does provide a series of exercises where discussions start with silent notetaking that ends with brief and timed conversations followed by real decision making. The design sprint cuts out a lot of the fluff in typical meetings and frees teams from the hassle of building and launching complete products without the data and insights to back it up. It’s really about….
…Real results, really fast.
Typical production processes can take months before getting any insight on whether an idea is worth pursuing. By then, there has been a lot of money and time invested in that idea so it makes it harder to pivot away from it. With the design sprint, a prototype gets designed and tested in just one week.