What is a design sprint? And, what are the usual road blocks and questions that pop up during one? We answer the key questions.
What's the Mäd Design Sprint?
The Mäd Design Sprint is our take on the Design Sprint by Google. It's a collaborative full-day (or multi-day) structured workshop that we run with clients to deep-dive into their business and quickly bring ourselves up to speed and understand the project from multiple angles: technology, business, and design.
The idea is that we start the project with lots of ideas and have a clear alignment quickly:
And then we have a much easier time with the rest of the project as that will be much smoother as we are working with a shared vision with our client.
Why are Design Sprint useful?
The Design Sprint is extremely useful because it helps us achieve higher quality results, faster. It creates and aligns cross-functional and multi-disciplinary client-agency teams, to ensure that we hear multiple viewpoints, reach a fast consensus, test ideas, and iterate.
This ensures that we can have key learnings before our clients go through the investment (in both time and money) of building a particular solution.
Are Design Sprints just for digital products?
Absolutely not! We've run Design Sprints to improve efficiency on internal process, business strategy, designing working spaces, and more.
One of the most common non-product use cases for Design Sprints is actually branding projects, where we dig deep to understand the competitive landscape, what works and doesn't work, and even sketch out ideas for the new brand identity.
We have even run a Design Sprint based on a a simple question about the future of an industry before, which directly led our client to completely re-imaged how they do their business, launching an innovative new product within less than a year.
What's Human-Centered Design?
Essentially, it's designing with the end user in mind...who are typically humans! So instead of starting with the technology or business requirements only, we take a step back and look at the ideal experience we would like the real people who will use the product or service, and only then see how we can fit the technology and business requirements around that.
The reason for this is that, in the long term, there is never a conflict between a great end user experience and shareholder value / business growth.
Can a Design Sprint be done remotely?
Yes! We've been doing remote work since before it became fashionable, and we've worked with a significant number of clients that were located in different parts of the world, and the Design Sprint was run completely remotely.
We use special tools that provide a digital whiteboard where we can share ideas, vote on solutions, and make the remote Design Sprint feel just like a face to face one.
Who should be involved in a Design Sprint?
From the Mäd team, we will normally hand-pick the team for the Design Sprint based on industry experience, skillset, and several other factors. From the client side, we recommend having key managers or executives from multiple different departments, often spanning marketing, sales, finance, and operations.
The key idea here is to have a mix of people that bring different solutions to the same set of problems, and these solutions can be reviewed and merged together for superior results.
One problem that is often raised is that a key stakeholder, normally the CEO or Director, is not able to take a full day away from their schedule for the Design Sprint. We fix this by just including that person in the initial session and conduct an expert interview to ensure that we capture their vision and requirements, and then run the rest of the sessions with the remainder of the team.
Why limit the number of people in a Design Sprint?
Because smaller teams move faster! Ideally a Design Sprint has 7-8 people or less, normally 3-4 from the client side and 3-4 from Mäd.
How long does a Design Sprint take?
Normally, our Design Sprint takes one week, with the actual client workshop takes 1-2 days, we spend the remainder of the week working on refining the ideas, speaking to end uses, and building prototypes.
What happens after a Design Sprint?
Once we've finished the Design Sprint, we will typically present our findings and showcase the potential next steps. For business sprints, this will always be a long-form report on key issues, opportunities, threats, and a strategic recommendation on the next steps.
For Brand or Product Design Sprints, this will generally be a mix of concept ideas, prototype development and testing results, as well as more refined sketches of the User Interface.
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