Frequently Asked Questions

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.

What is a Design Sprint?

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.

Who is a Design Sprint for?

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).

Do Sprints also work for large corporations?

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.

Why Sprint?

Unstructured brainstorms tend to reward extroverts, punish introverts and prioritize quantity over quality. Summary: they are a poor choice for generating useful solutions.

 

Here are the top reasons you should use the Design Sprint approach instead:

 

Group work and individual work can peacefully and productively coexist in sprints. Structured, timed exercises encourage diverse perspectives and developed ideas (with minimal distractions).

 

✅ You get a tangible, repeatable problem-solving process that you can use at will to push your business ideas forward.

 

Getting real feedback from your target users means you can champion design based on data, rather than bias or intuition.

 

✅ You can secure buy-in from stakeholders from the beginning, before investing lots of time and money.

 

✅ You walk away with a prototyped, tested solution.

Is a Sprint right for my challenge?

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.

What are the core principles of the Design Sprint?

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.

What are the benefits of a Design Sprint?

In the traditional model, without using the Design Sprint 2.0 method, it takes months, even years to bring a product to market. Often, the build part of the project just lingers on and on, as the team loses focus and moral. 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!

When to run a Design Sprint?

The framework can be used anytime an organization needs to answer critical business questions, when a project is stuck or when big problems don’t have an obvious solution.

 

Design Sprints can be applied in a multitude of use cases:

 

✅ Assess the viability of new businesses

✅ Jumpstart a project, product or service

✅ Ideate a specific area of a product

✅ Discover the right priorities and features for a product

✅ Create an MVP Roadmap

✅ Engage new audiences

✅ Define marketing and growth strategies

 

It is about finding out if your concept would work in the market, tested by real customers, without investing too much time and money. The focus of a Design Sprint is to get the validation needed to maximize the chances of creating something people want.

 

It could also mean that the outcome of the Design Sprint will be to stop the product/project from building at all.

When not to run a Design Sprint?

Design Sprints have their limitations and might not be the ideal solution when:

 

🚫 You are trying to cover all aspects of a very complex product/service at once. Sprints are very focused on answering specific questions you don’t have obvious answers to.

 

🚫 You want to explore multiple use cases and hypothesis. Sprints are 1 week long (or less) and the team can’t cover all possible hypothesis in such a short timeframe.

 

🚫 You don’t understand or can’t articulate the problem you are trying to solve. The Design Sprint is a process that helps coming up with a solution. Make sure the problem is well defined ahead by mapping it to a clear business goal and a client need.

 

🚫 You already know what the solution is or what to build.

 

🚫 There is no clear plan or support to execute the Sprint outcomes. Without this in most cases the Sprint week is just a wasted week.

 

🚫 You are looking for just small improvements to your product or service. Sprints are not a replacement of standard UX processes. Use sprints to answer big questions and set/validate a direction.

 

🚫 You think of them as a magic pill. Design Sprints are not effective by themselves but when they are integrated with other process in the organization.

Are Sprints only for digital products?

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.

How does the prototype look like?

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.

Why using an external facilitator or consultant?

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.

What about running a fully remote Sprint?

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.

Any advantages of Remote Design Sprints vs. In-person 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!

What equipment is needed for a remote Sprint?

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.

Do Sprints always last 5 days?

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.

Who should be in the team?

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.

Do we need to commit to every day?

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.

What happens if a Sprint fails?

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.

What happens after the sprint?

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.

Is a Sprint worth the time & money?

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 use Sprints for other business areas as well?

Can we, for example, use Sprints for challenges like defining marketing strategy, organizing promotional campaigns, 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!) mentioned that…

 

“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 core of our Campaign Booster uses the exercises from tried and tested Design Sprint method while adapting it to the specifics of working on a marketing challenge. This workshop combines several powerful exercises and techniques, which makes it an all-rounder tool for marketers!

 

Here are just a few examples of what Campaign Booster can be used 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 an entire marketing campaign in just a few short hours, including its timeline, all the deliverables you’ll need (plus who is responsible for them), along with a concept for your most important asset. What normally would have taken hours of open-ended discussions, multiple excruciatingly inefficient meetings, and endless back and forth was completed with ease and momentum. Not so bad if you ask us 😉

Do you offer other types of Sprints or workshops?

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.

Do you offer customized workshops or training?

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.

Do you offer Sprint trainings?

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.

Design Sprints

Get in Touch

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.