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Preparing for your first design sprint

4 min read
Margaret Kelsey  •  Sep 23, 2016
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It used to take companies weeks to brainstorm, write specs, publish RFPs, and get started on projects. With a design sprint, it’s possible to accomplish all that—plus sketching, prototyping, and validating big ideas—in just 5 days.

Sound too good to be true? We hosted a DesignTalk with Jay Melone of New Haircut to learn how exactly to run your own design sprint. Follow Jay’s advice and by the end of your sprint, you’ll have live, targeted customer validation so you know exactly what to prioritize in your product roadmap.

Watch Jay’s full talk below, or read on for our short recap.

Design sprint 101

First things first: What is a design sprint? Jay describes it as a 5-day design framework for validating ideas and solving big challenges. Design sprints are prescriptive. The process includes a set of timeboxed exercises that are completed in a specific order.

Go inside the design team at Google Ventures—they wrote the book on design sprints.

Jay noted that the 5 days don’t necessarily have to be Monday through Friday, but it does have to be consecutive days. So, if you have team buy-in, go ahead and work those weekends.

There are 3 conditions that are clear indicators that a design sprint can help your team:

  1. When you’re trying to move fast
  2. When big challenges need solving
  3. When you’re stuck

Sprints can help teams validate a variety of new thingsTwitter Logo—including features, complete solutions, and markets.

“Design sprints are all about collaboration.”
Twitter Logo

Assemble the dream team

Jay recommends having 6 different people in the sprint, outlined below. The range can run from 3 to a maximum of 7. Since a design sprint is about collaboration, you can’t run one by yourself. Oh, and the room should be device-free to limit distractions.

Related: The 7 qualities of design thinking leaders

Two leaders

  • The decider: Ultimately decides which idea is worth pursuing
  • The facilitator: Makes sure everyone follows the process

The appropriate experts, who bring in things to consider from their field

  • The marketing expert
  • The financial expert
  • The tech expert
  • The design expert

Now that you know what a design sprint is—and you know who to bring to the table—it’s time to walk through a sprint. To see how Jay completed a mock sprint, I encourage you to watch the video above! Or check out all of our other DesignTalks below.

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