5 myths about design sprints

4 min read
Stephanie Gonzalez
  •  Sep 25, 2018
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Design sprints represent the essential process that sparks collaborative innovation at companies big and small. They’ve received a lot of attention the past couple of years, but there’s some misinformation out there too. Here are five of the biggest myths we’ve heard about design sprints.

Myth 1: Design sprints really only work for small teams

Truth: Google pioneered the process, and they’re not exactly a startup! We’ve talked to some of the largest organizations in the world—including The Home Depot, Northwestern Mutual, AARP, and
IBM—to find they’re incorporating sprints into their design process. It’s a great way for larger companies to remain nimble, even as they scale.

Related: Google’s Andre La Masurier: Be nice, fail fast, and seek discomfort

Myth 2: Design sprints should only involve designers

Truth: Design sprints are a proven way to get more voices into the design processTwitter Logo, reducing bias and sparking innovative collaboration. In Enterprise Design Sprints, our newest book on DesignBetter.Co, we talked to The Home Depot about some of the ways they use design sprints to incorporate viewpoints from a variety of people.

It’s important to get input from stakeholders involved in every stage of the project.

“We have the benefit of 2,200 stores around the country, and Puerto Rico and Canada and Mexico,” said Paul Stonick, director of online user experience for The Home Depot. “So we have an opportunity to take the design sprint in a different direction where we partner with our in-store partners, and we walk out at the end of the week with a digital prototype, and a store prototype.”

“Design sprints are a proven way to get more voices into the design process, reducing bias and sparking innovative collaboration.”

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Myth 3: Design sprints should be applied to any problem

Truth: Design sprints are really best for solving product challenges of medium- to high-impact, not routine work. They help teams look into the future and explore what’s possible.

“We map our design sprints to what we call inline innovation. So we’re tying the design sprints to the current roadmap items and ideating around those,” said Brooke Creef, UX lead for design sprints at The Home Depot.

“Design sprints help teams look into the future and explore what’s possible.”

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Design sprints can be helpful for getting everyone on the same page and working toward the same goal. “We used the design sprint at the beginning of the project to define what the future could look like, and amongst the team, create a shared vision,” said Scott Yim, senior product manager at Northwestern Mutual

Related: Promoting collaboration in UX, design, and content teams

Myth 4: Only design teams benefit from design sprints

Truth: Design sprints break the mystery of design, helping stakeholders understand the process. This, in turn helps build trust and focus the attention of everyone involved.

Design sprints are most effective when they include non-designers

“The diversity of opinion, experience, and thought around the table, where everyone is bought in and feels that sense of ownership,” Northwestern Mutual’s Yim said. “That’s something we can cultivate and make fabric of our culture. It just results in a better product at the end of the day.”

Myth 5: After the last design sprint phase, you’re done!

Truth: Design sprints aren’t a “set it and forget it” tool.Twitter Logo They can help the entire organization learn fast. Collecting insights, compiling notes, and capturing experimental data after a design sprint is critical to knowing what to do next.

Design sprints represent a proven framework that can spark innovative collaboration for companies of any size. They’re being implemented by the most forward-thinking companies, both big and small.

Ready to try your hand at design sprints? Check out Enterprise Design Sprints on DesignBetter.Co.

Want to learn more about design sprints? Read on:

Collaborate in real time on a digital whiteboard