The "war room" is simply a room in which the Design Sprint will unfold. All useful information will be posted on the wall, (postits, personas, experience map, "solution sketches" or moodboards ...) and visible to all.

 

The Design Sprint is a 5 day methodology created by Jake Knapp and the UX specialists of Google Ventures. During Design Sprint we exchange ideas, outline solutions and design ideas which, at the end of the week, allow us to build a clickable prototype of your future product.

Design Sprint could not have existed without Design Thinking. Design Thinking was in the wake of Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley. Tom & David Kelley founded the IDEO company specializing in the creation of physical products. Like today's startups, they created multidisciplinary teams (ethnologists, designers, marketing specialists ...) to solve problems or design innovative products.

The 5 stages of Design thinking are:

empathy, understand the context of the user
define, what are the problems encountered
ideate, and imagine new solutions
prototype, the most interesting solutions
test, with real users and improve the product thanks to their feedbacks

One of the things companies are struggling with when it comes to integrating Design Thinking is that it's more of a philosophy than a true "out of the box" method. This is precisely the value of Design Sprint.

The Design Sprint offers a very precise setting, a timebox with a succession of clear and comprehensible exercises. Every day is rhythmic and the work progresses quickly. At the end of Sprint, the results are visible and artifacts such as prototypes or videos of the tests can be presented internally, as well as to external partners.

The Design Sprint takes the principles of Design Thinking, but is eminently pragmatic.
The Sprintmaster will ensure that time is well used and that the return on investment of these 5 days is maximum.

Short answer: yes.
For a first Design Sprint, we always recommend 5 days. It is the insurance to have a Sprint that delivers the maximum value. But there is always a way to adapt and shorten Design Sprint to your needs of course.

Design Sprint takes a process that can sometimes drag on for months, and condenses it into just 5 days. We can compare a Sprint with a well-thought recipe. If you take one ingredient away or replace it, consequently it won't have the same taste.

The Sprintbook, written by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky was written in light of more than 150 Sprints conducted with various companies. In our experience (more than 60 Sprints to date) we also validate the 5 day Sprint as the best return on investment (ROI). To shorten Design Sprint is to take the risk of missing an important stage. To "burn" the team or to stop before having conducted the user tests which is a critical phase.

When is it ok to shorten Design Sprint?

A team already used to Sprint, led by an experienced Sprintmaster certainly might reduce the Sprint to 4 days, or maybe 3 if it is a second Sprint dedicated to the same project. Finally, it is possible to use Design Sprint exercises, combine them wisely to create Custom 1, 2 or 3 day Workshops. In this case, we avoid calling it Design Sprint, but simply - User Experience (UX) WorkshopsRead more here

Our 1 day Sprints are theoretical trainings (methodology) and cannot be compared to an actual 5 days Sprint.

 

No. Design Sprint greatest strength and what makes it truly exciting is that it can be used for different types of projects and products.

The origins of Sprint are to be found in Design Thinking. Companies such as IDEO have widely used collaborative approaches to design hardware products. The first computer mouse for Apple, sneakers for Nike, kitchen appliances or furniture...

For the last years our team has worked with more that 50 companies. We facilitated Sprints within industries like education, software development, tech, medical, luxury beauty care, energy, security...

The first three days of the Design Sprint will allow you to design innovative products, new experiences, service design or even, in some cases, rethink how an entire organization works. The last two days may differ depending on the typology of the project.

For example, we can successfully prototype retail spaces using 3D renderings, present a new customer experience through a video. Or create a printed brochure to present a future product. In many cases, a clickable prototype simulating a website will give the product the necessary realism. During Design Sprint we will typically  use just one day for Prototyping. In the case of a hardware object, it is possible to extend the time to two or three days, due to simple practical reasons (3D printing ...) The key idea is not to waist any time and prototype "Goldilock quality".

In some cases running a single Design Sprint can be enough. But it needs to have a very well-defined challenge and be organized at the very beginning of the project. A single Design Sprint can:

  • kick-start a project and steer it in the right direction
  • test the validity of a concept or hypotheses
  • get support from the team
  • wow your investors or key stakeholders and get their buy-in
  • Boost your creativity and keep the good ideas

Test early, fail fast!

In some cases, Design Sprint will quickly identify a future failure of the product or idea. In this case, it is obviously advisable to stop the development of the project, or to organize a second Sprint to find solutions to the encountered problems.

The failure of the product does not mean the failure of Sprint! The real financial gain of a Design Sprint is the time you are saving on developing a product that has no future. Here lies the ROI of Design Sprint.

Deciders have a busy agenda, jump from meeting to meeting and are forced to multitask. Even if you will prepare for it, the first reaction you will hear is "I do not have time".

In many cases, they lose their vision of the field and no longer work directly with their teams.  Although they have many ideas and excellent vision, they often have to delegate to managers. Design Sprint is the ideal solution for leaders to reconnect with their teams and to roll up their sleeves to meet the challenges of their businesses. As long as they allow the necessary time.

Here are some tips to convince deciders to try Design Sprint:

  • Talk about the opportunity cost: why spend months of meetings picking up the pieces when they could spend 3 days with his teams?
  • Mention previous projects on which you have lost valuable time in unnecessary back and forth trips.
  • Highlight that among the most innovative and competitive companies at the moment (Google, Facebook, AirBnb, Uber, BBC ...) Design Sprint has become the tool of choice to find answers to big questions.
  • Present this as a change management experience. Try to work differently for a couple of days.
  • Come with a good Sprint Goal: if the starting problem is important enough, you will have no problem getting your team together.

We have organized a large number of Sprints and can technically organize yours in a matter of days.
However, it is important to plan your Design Sprint in advance. Some months of the year are particularly busy,  so we always recommend our customers to pre-book their dates in advance.

The benefits of planning a Sprint in advance

  • First, you guarantee that the agenda of important stakeholders is free and that they will be able to participate.
  • It is easier to find an availability in our schedule.
  • Less risk of having to cut the Sprint and carry it over two weeks (it works, but it is way better to have 5 consecutive days).
  • You give us visibility, which allows us to organize the best team of designers / facilitators for your project.
  • Finally, we prefer to run one Sprint a month with the same team.

Overall we have more availability during school holidays. The end of the year is always particularly busy, so we will ask you to book at least 2 months in advance.

Some agencies offer a shorter version of Sprint, which lasts 4 days. It was presented as the "Design Sprint 2.0". For the last 3 years, we have experimented a lot and tried different types of Design Sprint.

Based on our experience the type of Sprint we recommend is traditional 5-day Design Sprint. As it is described in Jake Knapp's and John Zeratsky's book and applied at Google Ventures. Therefore, it is important to say that before writing the book, GV teams tested the process during more than 150 Sprints before finding the right recipe.

There is a pragmatic and commercial reason why companies want to offer a shorter, 4-day version of Sprint.  It is always difficult to bring together important stakeholders for several days in a row (3 days for the workshop part in traditional Design Sprint). Because of this it is logical to try to condense this phase over 2 days. In Design Sprint 2.0 days 1 and 2 (Map and Sketch) are gathered in one day.

This implies a fast pace from the start of the Sprint, less time to understand the issues and especially a simplified Mapping exercise, see nonexistent. The risk at this stage is to misidentify the problem. In order to overcome these shortcomings, some prefer to prepare a basic version of the map beforehand or carry out a "problem framing" workshop upstream. Finally, a well-prepared 4-day Design Sprint looks furiously like a 5-day.

User Experience (UX) Workshops

In some cases, it's not possible to gather the right people for 5 days, or the challenge does not require a complete Design Sprint. Usually, it is the case of a follow-up Sprint. It is possible to use Design Sprint exercises, combine them wisely to create Custom 1, 2 or 3 day Workshops. In this case, we avoid calling it Design Sprint, but simply - User Experience (UX) Workshops

Design Sprint can be easily compared to a recipe: Jake Knapp's book gives you all the important steps, the essential ingredients, time indications for each exercise, etc. It gives the impression that it is an easy process. But as any good recipe it must be done by an experienced "cook" - experienced Design Sprint facilitator, because the stakes are always important and the time of all the participants is extremely precious.

As a company, specialized in Design Sprint Methodology we bring:

An outside look

This objectivity is essential, especially when the stake of a Sprint is important and that there are several currents of thoughts within the team.

An external team will also dare to ask '''dumb'' questions or the ones which usually creates tension and anger. The questions that hide real problems to talk and solve. More Sprint issue is "political", more important it is to invite an outside Design Sprint facilitator.

An authority

As Sprintmasters - neutral, external and objective, our role is to bring the team on the right path to reach the goal, control the time (using the famous Time Timer clock) and limit sterile debates. John- the senior VP speaks constantly and prevents other team members from intervening? This will not happen during a Design Sprint facilitated by an experienced Sprintmaster.

An Expertise

Facilitating a Sprint is a complicated task. 5 days of workshop, a prototype to perform, user tests ... There is no place for improvisation.
Our team has conducted more than 60 weeks of Sprints in last years with major companies in Switzerland and Europe, on complex topics.

We constantly communicate with other experienced Design Sprint facilitators from all over the world in order to improve our processes. Finally, we keep a close contact with Jake Knapp, the creator of Design Sprint within Google Ventures.

Philosophically the concepts of Design Sprint and Hackathon are relatively close: it is about finding creative solutions to a given problem with a limited space and time.

In reality, Hackathons became mainstream events which the main goal is not really to solve a problem but to network. Many large groups are now organizing their Hackathon primarily for promotional purposes or Human Resources (discovering talents).

Private vs Public

The Design Sprint consists of a small team (about 7 people). We will typically have 4 experts of the subject and 3 outsiders discovering the issues and bringing a new vision. While contrary to it, there can be thousands of people participating in Hackathons.

Unlike a Hackathon, the Sprint is done in a private setting. Consequently, the confidentiality of the information exchanged is guaranteed. This allows you to tackle real problems in depth. The theme of a Design Sprint will never be vague, without clear purpose like: "How we can reinvent the City of tomorrow?".  Design Sprint works on concrete and defined challenge like: "How to regain the 1500 customers who left for the competition in the last quarter?".