Design Sprints


Google Ventures' Design Sprint process will produce tangible outcomes in just four days so that you can build better products faster.

The problem

If you work for a large organisation, it may come as no surprise that despite the best intentions, innovation and customer centricity still takes too long and often misses the mark. 

Products are often built and launched prematurely based on assumptions with little customer validation. Furthermore, we can get stuck in analysis and insights gathering allowing timelines and budgets to blowout.

Research from CB Insights shows that "over 50% of companies take a year or longer to create new products, with almost 25% saying it takes over two years from ideation to launch."

What's worse, according to Strategyzer, 7 out of 10 products fail because companies do not create value propositions that are compelling to their customers. 

The problem is that both traditional product development and Design Thinking done wrong take too long to figure out if a solution actually solves a problem for the customer.

The solution

The Design Sprint is like a "greatest hits" which combines the most useful parts of Lean Product Design, Design Thinking, Agile Development, Service Design and UX Design. It's a four-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping and testing ideas with customers. 

It turns what would normally take months of work into a four-day, step by step process. It also saves you around $200k in resource costs as well as 11 months of opportunity cost (when compared to moving from idea to two, tested iterations of a prototype in 12 months).

What is the exact outcome?

  • A high fidelity interactive prototype, tested by real users and with clear insights on where to go next.
  • It is not a “wireframe” or a “paper prototype”, it looks and feels like a real product.

Once you have a tangible representation of your product and real user insights to guide your next steps, making decisions becomes a lot easier.

What happens after a Design Sprint

  • Define your product roadmap for implementation after the Sprint concludes.
  • Use the prototype to sell the idea and further develop the concept.
  • Run a second sprint to iterate and polish the idea, bringing it very close to production-ready.

Frequently Asked Questions

"My team already has these skills"
Awesome. If you already have in-house knowledge on these methods (Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Service Design, Agile, etc.) you will be able to hit the ground running. However, the role of an experienced facilitator is key in ensuring that the outcomes of the sprint are achieved. The facilitator won’t be contributing to the outputs, but will act like a coach and guide the process to a successful outcome: helping make decisions and maintaining momentum.

What project is this suitable for?
Before conducting a sprint, you should be able to speak to: The overall vision for the product; Customer needs and feedback; How the product currently works from a technical perspective; Any previous efforts to solve this problem, and what was learned from them. The Design Sprint does not assess Viability or Feasibility. That will have to completed through another process.

What time commitment do you need from my team?

  • Before the Sprint: we will need a 90min session with a mid-senior audience to agree on sprint team members and identify target customers so that we can recruit them for testing. We will need to identify the team’s “Decider”
  • During the Design Sprint: over the course of two weeks, will only need three full days from each team member from your organisation (two days during the first week and one day during the second week)
  • After the Design Sprint: With a senior audience (sponsor and/or P&L owner level), we will need 90 min at the end of the first week and 90 min at the end of the second week.

Where do you get the customers?
We normally recruit people off the street that fit the demographic and psychographic profile you are targeting. We generally do this via targeted Facebook ads. We find this works best as it avoids the lengthy protocols that get in the way of speaking to your own customers. We are happy to work with you on an alternative solution.

What’s the difference between a Design Sprint and a Lean Sprint?
The Design Sprint centres around the application of Design Thinking and Service Design in four days to assess the desirability of a solution (it does not check viability or feasibility). The Lean Sprint centres around the application of the Lean Startup approach in four days. Beyond the methods, the main difference is that the Design Sprint will produce a high fidelity prototype tested with five customers, instead, the output of a Lean Sprint is a customer validated business model which includes a solution design, costs, benefits and a plan of activities.

When does a Design Sprint not make sense? 
A Design Sprint is not the right tool if you are unclear about the problem space you want to tackle. In these cases, consider a Lean Sprint instead. A Design Sprint will provide a view about solution/feature design desirability and builds on the assumption that the concept you have in mind addresses the problems of the customer.