Editor’s Note: the following content has been validated by the Lead Product Manager at Facebook.
If you work as a Product Manager, chances are you’ve heard of the Design Sprint. And if you haven’t, well, it’s a good thing you found this article sooner rather than later…
What is a Design Sprint?
Two words: time-constrained, and fast.
Jake Knapp developed design sprints at Google Ventures (GV) in 2010. It “uses design thinking to reduce the risk when bringing a new product, service, or feature to the market.” Since then, it has become a powerful movement that helps Product Teams at Google, developers, and companies in the industry solve design problems quickly. But it’s grown beyond just design, and can help Product Teams tackle tough problems, find quick solutions, and intentionally make an environment open to creativity and new ideas.
Though the original design sprint was 5 days, depending on the problem and the team it can range from 2-5. Every organization has their own version, fit for their product, sector and staff. However, the key principle behind a Sprint is to save steps in product development and release. A short-time constraint is necessary and it highlights the “survivalist” nature of the Sprint: only what is useful will be kept in the end.
A design sprint helps you put the product in front of your users as quickly as possible. As the founder of Linkedin, Reid Hoffman, once said: “If you are not embarrassed about the first version of your product you show to your users, then it means you launched too late.” Design sprints also allow you to iterate and test ideas quickly, reducing time and resources invested in bad ideas.
In the past, the Product Development process was:
build -> launch -> measure -> iterate
The issue is that building often takes too long, there’s no going back if you get new info, and the results are inconclusive. A design sprint solves this by forcing a fast ideation/prototype/test cycle.
Hosting your next Design Sprint: Step-by-Step
Make sure to follow these steps to ace your next team’s design sprint! This is based on Jake Knapp’s Design Sprint 2.0, a 4-day version of his original 5-day sprint. (Because yes, Jake Knapp ran a design sprint on his design sprint model to iterate and make it even better.)
Day 0 – Prepare
Before your Design Sprint, you must identify the objective by choosing a “big” problem your company needs to solve. Then, you need to go get the right people together to start the process.
You’ll need a designer, a decision-maker (the person who has the final say in the Sprint decisions), an engineer, a user expert, and yourself (the PM). Ideally, you should also include other interested parties like marketers or key stakeholders.
Pick a facilitator to manage the sprint/keeps things moving. This person should be confident leading a meeting, including synthesizing discussions and nicely telling people to shut up & be ok speaking less. Sprints can be led by anyone, but PMs are particularly well-suited for the task: they work at the intersection of many vital functions (design, development, user research, marketing, etc.) and thus they are perfect for “translating” doubts and achievements across teams.
If you’re running this experiment in person, get tools like sticky notes, whiteboards, dot stickers, paper, timers, snacks, and tape. If you’re doing it remotely, all you’ll need is to make a copy of our Design Sprint Template and set up a video conference in your platform of choice.
Day 1 – Define the challenge. Product solutions.
- Define the sprint challenge with the team.
- Define the long-term goal of the product or feature.
- Set design sprint questions.
- Create a user touchpoint map.
- Run a lightning demo to come up with solutions.
- Run a sketch session to narrow down and visualize solutions.
Day 2 – Vote on solutions. Storyboard.
- Highlight and discuss interesting solution ideas.
- Vote on solutions.
- Create a user test flow.
- Draw a storyboard.
Day 3 – Prototype
Not all team members have to be in the room on Day 3, just the ones responsible for building out the prototype. Keep it simple! Only building pieces of the product or feature you want to test with users.
Day 4 – User testing
Conduct user tests and document their reactions, comments, and behavior.
On Google Slides
This one is for the Product Managers who want something straightforward and easy to use. Gain instant access to the template here.
Collaborative online whiteboards have been taking the tech world by storm! Level up on your Design Sprint by hosting the entire process on this board –Certified by Product School.
Coda is a cloud-based document editor like no other that will help teams organize, delegate, measure, and document everything in one place.
Learn how to validate ideas in record time with this Design Sprint Template created by Coda.
Check out our other templates:
Still, looking for some great templates? Check out our collection:
Product Template: Product Requirements Document
Product Template: Roadmaps
Product Template: Retrospective
Product Template: User Personas
Product Template: Customer Journey Maps
Product Template: User Flow
We add new templates and frameworks to our Product School Pro community every month. Join us!