10 May Design Sprints Are Not Just For Designers or Tech Companies
There is a common misconception around Design Sprints, particularly as it’s a relatively new term.
So I want to get this out of the way and cleared up.
Design Sprints are NOT just for designers.
Although they were first initiated by designers, they can be used by anyone in any industry.
And it’s not only designers who can facilitate Design Sprints.
What do I mean?
Although you may think ‘designer’ when someone mentions Design Sprints, experience in design is not a requirement.
The Design Sprint method is not about design as a craft.
This process is not for coming up with visual design or branding ideas. Design Sprints can be used for that, but they are much more versatile and helpful when used strategically.
Anyone can implement Design Sprints as long as you understand the underlying principle and what the process consists of.
But first, why are Design Sprints so important?
The Design Sprint innovation process can be applied to almost any form of business.
They give structure to the problem-solving process, which means less unproductive meetings and better ideas.
The timeline of a Design Sprint process is typically 4-5 days.
The process makes time for individual thinking and discussing things as a team. So you get a full range of perspectives.
It’s a quick way to develop a prototype and reduces the risk of bringing something innovative or new to market.
Design Sprints or a so-called Design Thinking mindset are of tremendous benefit to those involved.
If you’d like more detail about the Design Sprint process and its benefits, read my previous blog post.
Design Thinking is for Everyone
The core of any Design Sprint is Design Thinking.
It’s a process for solving problems by prioritizing the consumer’s needs above all else.
But Design thinking is not just for non-designers to get closer to design, it was also developed for designers to get closer to business thinking.
Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services, processes–and even strategy. — Tim Brown
Design Thinking benefits everyone, both the business and the end-user, and that makes it an important skill to have.
Other than improving the working culture of those involved, it also speeds up their methods of innovation.
71% of businesses report that Design Thinking improved their working culture on a team level.
69% of businesses perceive the innovation process to be more efficient with Design Thinking.
You can read the full report “Parts Without a Whole?: The Current State of Design Thinking Practice in Organizations” here.
So, it really doesn’t matter whether or not you’re an actual designer.
Incorporating Design Thinking in your workplace would have tremendous benefits for your business and everyone involved.
Design Thinking is at the forefront of innovation.
Who Can Run a Design Sprint?
The Design Sprint process is simply a combination of Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Agile for an approach to innovation that is rapid.
Design Sprints became popular with designers and tech companies, but it has been proven that they can be implemented in any form of business, in any industry.
All you need is a team and a business problem that you want to solve or an idea that you want to prototype and test quickly.
If you want to innovate better and more effectively at scale, Design Sprints are the best choice.
The secret is to focus on the biggest challenge your business needs to solve right now. This ensures that your team will utilize the Sprint to the fullest and come up with the most productive outcomes.
When we talk to startups about sprints, we encourage them to go after their most important problem. Running a sprint requires a lot of energy and focus. Don’t go for the small win, or the nice-to-have project, because people won’t bring their best efforts. They probably won’t even clear their schedules in the first place. — Jake Knapp
Design Sprints are perfect for businesses looking to develop a new product, or find solutions to seemingly complex problems in the company or industry.
And the best part is, Design Sprints work for both digital and physical products.
Here is a quote by LEGO’s Head of Agile Center of Excellence talking about the long-term effects of using Design Sprints.
It has created a sense of pride throughout the organization; a belief that we can tackle any challenge as a team and that we as individuals are pretty good at our jobs and can add value that exceeds our expected roles, when required. Also, it was a great team-building exercise; you get to know some new colleagues and their skills, so people were more inclined to reach out to each other after a sprint. Water cooler talks definitely have been taken to a new level.” — Eik Thyrsted Brandsgård
You can read more about how LEGO uses Design Sprints throughout its organization here.
Lego and several companies have shown that Design Sprints are also perfect for businesses that hope to foster teamwork in the company because the process involves different key members of the company, from CEO to marketing expert.
Everyone works together to come up with innovative ideas and solutions to the company’s challenges.
Are Design Sprints just for Designing?
No. Design Sprints are a lot more than that.
Design Sprints are a strategic process.
They make it easy for design to take on a more strategic role, and they aid in modernizing the way people work.
Managers, top decision-makers, as well as major stakeholders and shareholders, all initiate, access and evaluate Design Sprints.
This shows that the Sprints are not about design. Not at all.
It means that design can be used in a more strategic manner, and the line of thinking of designers can come in handy when we reach the strategic aspect of the innovation process.
In other words, designers have a way of looking at things that can be used to better solve, identify, and explore problems.
Because in the past, business challenges have always been solved in the traditional manner.
With outdated methods that take a long time to apply and which are often more speculative than based on facts, and at the same time offer no guarantee of success.
There is, however, a need for businesses to be more agile and innovative when they solve problems.
The business world is rapidly changing through globalization and digitization, which has created more challenges for companies.
That’s where the idea of incorporating the way designers work and think comes in.
The way designers operate has proven to be highly effective at solving today’s business challenges.
Of course, design isn’t easy and I am not saying anyone can do it.
It also does not mean that a designer’s mindset is the only way to solve these problems, but that it has proven to be a very effective method of doing so.
While the Design Sprint might be a step-by-step process, the core aspect of it is a Design Thinking mindset. It also incorporates methods such as Agile and Lean Startup thinking.
The evolution of business and innovation processes has necessitated new ways of thinking, which offers the chance to explore your creativity, and this is what a Design Thinking mindset helps to accomplish.
We need new ways to deal with complex challenges that can’t be solved by our old linear and siloed methods of working.
We need to come up with a more agile way to deal with these problems across silos, to work iteratively, and to unleash more of people’s creative juices.
And the way designers think and work helps us to achieve this.
At Design Sprints Studio, we are committed to helping you facilitate productive Design Thinking, Design Sprint, or any other type of Innovation workshops, guaranteed to enhance the value and sustainability of your business.
With substantial experience and required skills needed to run effective workshops, we can help you figure out just the right innovation your business needs.