A Design Sprint is a unique 4-day innovation method for rapidly solving critical business challenges, creating new products, or improving existing ones. It compresses months of work into a single week or less, saving time and money, by directly getting market feedback to your idea – without having to build it first.
Developed at Google Ventures, it encompasses business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and is popular at leading companies and institutions like Apple, Adidas, Facebook, Lego, Netflix, The New York Times, Standford University, United Nations, and many others!
Before you put a lot of money and time into a product or new feature, you need to be sure you’re building the right thing. Product Design Sprints are the most efficient way to determine whether your value proposition is valid. Sprints eliminate risks at the start of your project by replacing uncertain guesswork and months of effort with rapid feedback and progress. Don’t invest months of time, invest a week.
In the conventional method, getting a product ready for market launch takes months, if not years. Most times, the build phase of a project drags on indefinitely, as the team loses focus and morale.
By incorporating the Design Sprint 2.0 into your work process, you can quickly determine the type of product you should build by gathering real-world feedback from your users on a tangible and working prototype.
Design Sprints offer an amazingly quick Return on Investment by removing the expense of context switching, communication challenges, and pointless back and forth. Sprints keep the team’s focus exclusively on a particular challenge, while producing some incredible results.
Our Design Sprint process is based on Google’s Design Sprint methodology, and adjusted using AJ&Smart’s Design Sprint 2.0 in accordance with Jake Knapp, the creator of the original Design Sprint.
The Design Sprint 2.0 is fundamentally a focused 4-day intensive hackathon. We spend the first two days in person with you, our client, defining challenges, exploring ideas and solutions, and deciding what to prototype and test. Day 3 focuses on quickly developing a high-fidelity prototype that will be tested with real users on Day 4. The users are guided through the prototype, and we document all we learn along the way in a report.
1. Define the challenges
2. Produce a mass of solutions
1. Curate and vote on best solutions
2. Define the prototype with a storyboard
1. Build the prototype
2. Set up the user tests
1. Test the prototype with real users
2. Use feedback from the testing to create clear next steps
The outcome of each Design Sprint is a high-fidelity interactive prototype, verified by real users and includes reasonable next steps. The prototype is designed to look and feel like an actual product. The most valuable result of a Design Sprint is the validation (or invalidation) of your assumptions around your project and the confidence in planning your project’s next steps. You get a simple yes or no answer to the questions you asked in the Sprint.
It will be much easier for you to make decisions when you have a tangible representation of your product in your hands, as well as real user or customer insights to lead you through your next steps. You could benefit from a second sprint to iterate and refine the idea and bring it closer to production-ready status, or you could use the prototype to get more buy-ins for the idea and move towards developing your product.
We’re a specialist Design Sprint Studio with a team of experts adept at working within the fast-paced process of a Design Sprint. Here`s our offering.
2 x Weeks
Design Sprint 2.0
2 x Interactive
We’ll help you get the most out of your Design Sprint. All you need to bring is your ideas, your expertise and your energy.
Business Idea or
of your Experts
2 Days of
We empower organizations and institutions to discover new ways of working, make better decisions, uncover opportunities for innovation and create better products.
Organizations and companies need to innovate faster than ever, but distributed teams’ work can be a tricky and tough challenge. So what about running a fully remote Design Sprint?
Well, we think it’s the perfect solution and the right tools are already there. We are just using simple tools and guide you through each and every step, to make sure, the remote Sprint team doesn’t need to have specific skills or experience regarding remote work.
If you never heard of Design Sprints or innovation methods in general, this page provides help with the most common questions. If you don’t see what’s on your mind, reach out to us anytime on phone, chat, or email.
The sprint is a process for answering critical business questions by creating a realistic prototype of an idea, and testing it on real users – in under a week! Developed at Google Ventures, it encompasses business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more.
Yes, there is a difference. Design Thinking is a toolkit, mindset, and philosophy, while a Design Sprint is a specific recipe, with exercises and a step-by-step guide for executing Design Thinking principles.
If you want to learn more about Design Thinking, Design Sprints, and Agile Sprints, check out our dedicated article where we break down the similarities and differences between each framework and when to use each one.
The Sprint process came out in 2016, and today, thousands of teams around the world have run sprints in startups (like Slack and Airbnb), big companies (like LEGO and Google), agencies (like IDEO and McKinsey), schools (like Stanford and Columbia), governments (like the UK and the UN), and even museums (like the British Museum and the Smithsonian).
Yes, the Design Sprint is perfect for challenges in start-ups, medium-sized businesses, or large corporations. All you need is a suitable relevant challenge and an interdisciplinary team.
Unorganized brainstorms tend to favor extroverts over introverts and to place importance on quantity over quality. In summary, they are an unsuitable choice for coming up with necessary solutions.
Below are the main reasons you should opt for the Design Sprint approach instead:
✅ In sprints, group and individual tasks can coexist peacefully and effectively. Structured, timed exercises promote a variety of perspectives and developed ideas (with distractions reduced to the barest minimum).
✅ You get a tangible and reproducible problem-solving process that you can use whenever you want to advance your business ideas.
✅ Obtaining authentic feedback from your target users allows you to advocate design based on data and not bias or intuition.
✅ Before investing a lot of time and money, you can secure buy-in from stakeholders right from the start.
✅ As a result, you will get a solution that has been prototyped and tested.
The Sprint method is great for tackling a single-minded goal. It doesn’t matter how big your problem is, just make sure it’s not too small.
We have 5 questions for you that could guide your way to the answer. You need to think about your current product, team and problem:
1. Do you have a specific problem that needs a solution?
2. Is the problem complex with no obvious solution?
3. Do you need a cross-functional team to solve your problem?
4. Is your problem worth investing 5 days?
5. Do you need full-on innovation for a changing or a new market?
If your is answer is YES to all 5 questions, you might benefit from a design sprint now with your product team.
1. Working Together Alone (removing personal biases and levelling the playing field)
➡️ The group works in the same room, while each person has time and space to form their own individual ideas and thoughts.
☝️ Why? To equalize different personalities and levels of hierarchy.
2. Tangible (ideas) over Discussion
➡️ Instead of discussing and trying to convince others of our point of view, we let the ideas speak for themselves by writing, sketching or showing examples.
☝️ Why? To avoid different interpretations & misunderstandings.
3. Getting Started over Being Right
➡️ Rather than waiting until we all agree that everything is “perfect”, we make decisions, move forward, and test our hunches quickly.
☝️ Why? To break the cycle of decision paralysis & make some progress!
4. Don’t rely on creativity
➡️ Instead of expecting each person to “feel” creative at the right moment, we use the process to inspire, inform and prepare for idea generation.
☝️ Why? Because creativity is unpredictable.
In the conventional method, without using the Design Sprint 2.0 method, getting a product ready for market launch takes months, if not years. Most times, the build phase of a project drags on indefinitely, as the team loses focus and morale. The default product development cycle doesn’t check how customers will react until after you launch. The Design Sprint validates new ideas fast before you invest time and money to build them.
We have listed some of the most common problems and challenges in the product development cycle in organizations, but also how they can be prevented with the help of the Design Sprint Method:
🚫Problem: Cross-functional teams find it hard to align with common business objectives.
✅ Benefit: Through intentionally designed exercises, multiple stakeholders are included in the idea development process, creating personal investment in the solution, leading to less misalignments and misunderstandings.
🚫Problem: Teams often work towards unclear goals as project scope changes repeatedly.
✅ Benefit: Alignment is the big unexpected benefit.
🚫Problem: Teams lack real data on which to base business decisions, instead relying on endless internal discussions.
✅ Benefit: The Design Sprint validates new ideas fast before you invest time and money to build them.
🚫Problem: Teams have pressure to be innovative but don’t know how to start.
✅ Benefit: By the help of the Sprint there’s no need to rely on creativity or being innovative. The Sprint method will give you the framework, to produce solutions, that are going to be useful.
🚫Problem: The default product development cycle doesn’t check how customers will react until after you launch and it also runs too long, causing teams to lose enthusiasm and focus.
✅ Benefit: Closing this loop or making this loop a lot smaller, validating and getting data earlier before spending all this time, money and effort, is what the Design Sprint is all about.
💡 Alignment is the big unexpected benefit of a Design Sprint!
The framework can be used whenever an organisation needs to answer crucial business questions, when a project does not seem to move forward, or when big problems lack a clear solution.
Design Sprints can be used in a variety of use cases:
✅ Evaluate the chances of success of new businesses
✅ Start up a project, product, or service
✅ Create an idea for a specific area of a product
✅ Determine the best priorities and features for a product
✅ Build an MVP Roadmap
✅ Address new target groups
✅ Define marketing and expansion strategies
It is about determining whether your concept will work in the market, after being tested by real customers without investing a lot of time and money. The goal of a Design Sprint is to obtain the necessary validation in order to increase the likelihood of creating something that people want.
It could also imply that the Design Sprint will result in the product/project not being built at all.
Design Sprints have constraints and may not be the best solution in the following situations:
🚫 You’re trying to cover every aspect of a very complex product/service in one go. Sprints are designed to answer specific questions that do not have obvious answers.
🚫 You want to analyse different use cases and hypotheses. Sprints last one week (or less), and the team cannot cover all possible hypotheses in such a short period of time.
🚫 You do not understand or are unable to grasp the problem you are attempting to solve. The Design Sprint is a process that aids in coming up with a solution. Ensure that the problem is well defined ahead of time by mapping it to a specific business goal and customer needs.
🚫 You are already aware of the solution or what exactly to build.
🚫 There is no specific, laid out plan or support in place to carry out the Sprint outcomes. Without this, the Sprint week is usually a waste of time.
🚫 You only want to make minor tweaks to your product or service. Sprints are not intended to be a replacement for standard UX processes. Sprints are used to answer critical business questions and establish/validate a direction.
🚫 You expect them to work like a magic pill. Design Sprints are most effective when combined with other processes within the organisation.
You may have heard a thousand times that designers started Design Sprints. While that may be true, anyone in any industry can use this method. Anybody who is hoping to advance their business can run Design Sprints.
Read on to find out more about the biggest misconception about Design Sprints.
No. Design Sprint greatest strength and what makes it truly exciting is that it can be used for any type of project or product. The origins of Sprint are to be found in Design Thinking. Companies such as IDEO have widely used collaborative approaches to design hardware products. e.g. the first computer mouse for Apple, sneakers for Nike, kitchen appliances or even furniture.
Quite simply, a prototype is anything a person can look at and respond to. A prototype rarely has to be very complex in order to learn what we need to know. But this is not the classic design thinking approach, so we are not creating paper prototypes or wireframes. Design Sprint prototyping is all about a “fake it till you make it” philosophy. In fact, we are going to make this as real as possible with a realistic-looking prototype. We don’t want people second-guessing how this thing is constructed. We just want their proper reactions in order to get the best possible data from the user tests, and we will learn whether we are on the right track.
Every company faces complicated times, big problems, or risky situations. Teams need to take important decisions and make alignment fast. As facilitation specialists, we are here to support you in an unbiased and structured manner. Using an external facilitator or consultant allows you to avoid potentially explosive situations and smoothly manage difficult personalities and emotions within a group. Please read our comprehensive article on why an external facilitator should run your next Design Sprint to learn more.
Yes, we can. Three years ago, it would have been impossible to offer such a service, but the tools are here. We are using simple tools, so for sure, the virtual Design Sprint team doesn’t need to have specific skills or experience regarding remote work. Participants will be guided through the process and introduced to each exercise and every tool we are using for our remote Design Sprints.
Dispersed teams can collaborate to solve problems fast, using a proven process that delivers precise results without using an extra budget for accommodation & traveling, renting a venue, food, etc.
There are even more benefits of running a Remote Design Sprint:
1. Take action now instead of waiting for the perfect time “when the stars align”
2. Easier to organize, even with distributed teams
3. Same quality as in an in-person sprint… if not better!
4. Easier to get busy people in who might otherwise not be able to join
5. Fully digitized – benefits of not having to type everything up
6. No need to organize a workshop room – or having to deal with subpar rooms
7. No need to buy materials – and you never run out
8. Yes, we can work on different time zones without messing your day up
9. Lower stress with fewer variables
10. We can sprint worldwide! No travel costs, no jetlag, no environmental impact
11. Show your team how to collaborate remotely, and that it’s even easier than on location
12. Build a remote collaboration culture
Conclusion: As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to running a Sprint remotely!
It’s important for each participant to have essential equipment: a computer with a proper microphone or headset, a webcam and a fast internet connection. The participant should also use a modern browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox. During the sprint our co-facilitator deals with minor technical issues related to the internet connection or tools without disturbing others.
No. We use the Design Sprint 2.0 model over 4 days. Usually, these are consecutive days (Monday – Friday). But it’s also possible to split the Sprint over 2 weeks if it’s more convenient. For example, we split the remote Design Sprints usually over 2 weeks.
Sprint teams should consist of 3-6 participants. We need the people responsible for making decisions, your organisation’s experts, preferably with different backgrounds. These can be stakeholders or employees from marketing, design, IT, management, or any other department. Additionally, there will be a Design Sprint facilitator and a prototyping expert from our side.
No. Our Sprints are structured in a way where we only ask for your involvement for the first 2 days. However, it is recommended to observe user testing on the final day.
Even if the results are negative you’ve still learned something, and you’ve saved a load of time and money by not building and launching to find that out.
You’re now equipped with actionable insight. Your team can choose to build on what we’ve started and get the solution to market as quickly as possible or do a second iterative Sprint.
Question 1: Is a Sprint worth the time & hassle? After all, booking a team’s time for a few days and finding the right slot in everyone’s calendar to do so can take a lot of work.
Answer: On average, research participants reported that Design Sprints yielded a 7x savings in time.
Question 2: Is a Sprint worth the money? People’s time isn’t free. Asking people to reserve multiple working days is a big ask. And it’s even more expensive if you need to hire consultants like us to help you run the Design Sprint.
Answer: On average, research participants reported that Design Sprints yielded at least 2x savings in money — and that’s when hiring an external consultant.
Please find more information about this research here.
Can we, for example, use Sprints for challenges like organizing promotional campaigns, defining marketing strategy, or crafting strong content ideas? Yes, we can! In fact, Jake Knapp himself (the inventor of one of the most effective workshops – the Design Sprint!) uses Sprints for marketing campaigns whenever possible…
“I like to use workshops for marketing campaigns whenever possible, even when the main question is about the product. Getting the marketing right is crucial to getting the product right. In fact, you should figure out the marketing first before you figure out the product.” Jake Knapp
The basis of the Marketing Strategy Campaign Workshop uses the exercises from the trusted Design Sprint method, while matching it to the specifics of working on a marketing challenge. It merges numerous profound exercises and techniques, making it an all-encompassing tool for marketers which is effective in tackling challenges such as defining marketing strategy, organizing promotional campaigns, or crafting strong content ideas.
Here are just a few examples of what we can use a Marketing Strategy Campaign Workshop for:
✅ Defining the overall marketing strategy for a product
✅ Crafting high-converting landing pages
✅ Devising efficient advertising campaigns
✅ Planning out full-circle marketing plans for a product launch
✅ Giving your brand a re-fresher
…and so much more!
Using our method, you have planned out a complete marketing strategy campaign in just a few hours, including its timeline, all the deliverables required (as well as those responsible for them), and a concept for your most valuable asset. What would usually have required long hours of open-ended discussions, countless painfully unproductive meetings, and never-ending back and forth was completed with ease and momentum. Pretty good, if you ask us.
The core of all our workshops uses exercises from tried and tested Design Sprint method while adapting it to the specifics of each challenge. Besides the Design Sprint, we also do offer workshops for brainstorming, ideation, and problem-solving or even for marketing challenges. We recommend using our workshop methods anytime your team needs to make decisions, solve problems or discuss challenges fast + find quick direction. It will prevent your team from losing focus and replace your open, unstructured discussion with a simple process.
Yes! Many top designers and consultancies around the world have adapted the time-boxed sprint model to special cases. Every situation that demands change can benefit from a tailor-made approach. All organizations, as well as us, have to deal with different situations. There are many different target groups, change requirements, possibilities, and so on. That is why we offer tailor-made workshops to respond to such individual situations and, of course, to keep our clients happy. So if you have a specific issue, we can tailor a workshop or training for your specific needs.
Yes, our Design Sprint Training teaches you the most up-to-date version of the Sprint with the help of industry-leading Design Sprint facilitation techniques. From our experience in running Design Sprints, we tailor the training package around your organisation’s workflow, suiting your team and product needs. Our training Bootcamp is perfect for challenges in start-ups, medium-sized businesses, or large corporations. All you need is a suitable relevant challenge and an interdisciplinary team.
Martin Backes, expert Design Sprint facilitator, will present in detail all the steps of the workshop and will share his secrets with you. At the end of this training, you will be able to facilitate your Sprints, recruit the ideal team, and know everything about testing and prototyping tools.
Use time efficiently and minimize risk with product ideas. Empower your team to lead themselves and build the best product possible.
If you have any more questions about Sprints or any other workshop method, just send us a message. We’d love to learn more about you.
If you want to develop new products & services from scratch, improve existing ones, or just help your team innovate faster, we got your back. Find out more and request a consultation through this form or book a Sprint with us.