A Design Sprint Is / A Design Sprint Is Not (10 Facts about Design Sprints)


I talk to a lot of people about Design Sprints. Some people know exactly what a Design Sprint is because they’ve participated in one, but some are a little confused, hence this post to clear up what a Design Sprint is and isn’t. 

The Design Sprint is a short (4 or 5 day) innovation process that takes you (and your business team) from ‘problem’ to ‘the right solution’. You define a goal and challenges (informed by experts), you decide which challenges to explore, you build a prototype to test, you test it (with real people) you analyse the results, and you decide on next steps. Next steps might be ‘go build it’ or might be ‘let’s do an Iteration Sprint’!

Made popular by GV and the book “Sprint”; many Design Agencies and a growing number of Consultancies use Design Sprints with their clients because, well, put simply… because they work.

Having seen Design Sprints have such a positive impact on both consumer facing products AND on business strategy, I’m a big fan. The biggest single reason to run a Design Sprint is to shortcut the (usual) months of debate and indecision about product or business direction, and have all those debates and make the decisions in under a week. Better than that: hypotheses, hunches and ideas are validated by real customers / users during this time, delivering the team with clear and actionable results. 

Design Sprints shortcut ‘traditional’ Strategy.

A Design Sprint IS

  1. An Innovation Process that follows clear structure

  2. 4 (or 5) days in duration

  3. Undertaken by a multidisciplinary team from across a business

  4. A process that involves key stakeholders throughout 

  5. Something you do in a dedicated location, all together

  6. A process that delivers real data; enabling decision to be made

  7. Focussed on any (well, most) product or business problem

  8. Facilitated by a Sprint Facilitator who can be from any discipline

  9. Useful when launching, extending or improving a product, service or proposition or when deciding on a new business direction or strategy

  10. Extremely powerful for your business

A Design Sprint IS NOT

  1. A workshop that doesn’t follow the ‘Sprint’ process

  2. A workshop

  3. A process undertaken by designers

  4. A process that can be run for you, by others that you don’t need to get involved in

  5. Something you can do remotely

  6. A vague process without any testing 

  7. Focussed only on Visual or Functional Design or UX

  8. Facilitated only by Designers 

  9. Not useful when you think you already have the answer or if you’re not prepared to listen to user / customer / stakeholder feedback

  10. Just a trendy new fad

At Rebel Futures, we love helping other businesses to run Design Sprints and we help with planning, setup, facilitation, testing recruitment and well, anything else your sprint needs.

Get in touch if you’d like help with yours.