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How Home Depot “Home Depot-ized” the design sprint

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Richard Banfield  •  Nov 21, 2018
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This is the first in a three-part series of articles on how Home Depot uses design sprints. To find out more about how the company—and other design-forward large organizations—uses design sprints, check out our latest book on DesignBetter.Co, Enterprise Design Sprints.

One of the great things about the design sprint is that it’s customizable. A design sprint is simply a framework around which to base your exploration into your most important product decisions.

Especially when it comes to larger enterprises, some customization might be necessary.

While writing Enterprise Design Sprints, in which Home Depot is prominently featured, I spoke to Brooke Creef, UX manager at the organization, about how they customized the design sprint for company use. Here’s what we learned based on their “Home Depot-izing” of the design sprint.

Don’t be afraid to customize the phases

A traditional design sprint has five phases—understand, diverge, converge, build, and test—but depending on the organization or the problem it’s facing, that may be too many or too few.

By partnering with their user research team, Home Depot found they needed a deeper understanding of the necessary research inputs needed to accurately state the problem statement and the outputs.

Based on this learning, they added an additional pre-phase to the sprint and renamed the phases to fit their needs: understanding, investigation, ideation, focus, prototype, and validation.

Make the timing fit your goals

A typical sprint is five days, with one day dedicated to each phase. At Home Depot, the team introduced three options: the typical five-day approach, plus a three-day approach and what they call “one-day problem framing.”

Creef detailed how that approach works for the team: “The one-day problem framing is when a product partner comes to us, and they potentially want to do some ideation around an idea or a hypothesis. Here there might not be any research, and so we don’t want to necessarily turn those partners away, but we want to make sure that we are protecting the integrity of the problem space. So for this, we just take the team through the first three phases.

At the end of the problem framing, we usually come out with anywhere from three to five sketches or wireframes that the team will then bring up in fidelity and test.”

“It’s gone over really well, and we’ve even gotten some additional ideation around roadmap prioritizations, as well as how can we add this to the research roadmap,” Creef said. “Let’s say you come out of a problem framing, and you determine that this is a very large problem space, then from there we can talk to our user partners about potentially getting on their roadmap to take a deeper dive into the problem space and potentially running another larger, deep-dive design sprint.”

Customize your outputs

Another key deliverable Home Depot implemented is a roadmap prioritization and a debrief deck, both deliverables prove the value of the sprint—and design sprints in general—to key stakeholders.

“We found that through our retros that we really wanted to make sure that we were delivering value to our product partners and really keeping them engaged, especially on prototyping day,” Creef said. “So we’ve asked our remaining design sprint team to really work on this debrief deck, while the designers are working on the prototyping. So what this does is this captures all of the findings, and then the solutioning all of the problem space solutioning and findings of any of the tier levels.”

The bottom line is that a design sprint is meant to be used as a framework, and like any other framework, it’s customizable to the company’s needs. Read more about design sprints in Enterprise Design Sprints on DesignBetter.Co.