Design sprints enable us to work in accordance with the innovation mantra of “Fail fast, fail often”.
Creating new products and services is risky and involves a lot of uncertainty. It is extremely rare to get it 100% right at the first attempt and, since time to market is an important success factor, design sprints can be an important framework.
Itera uses design sprints as a central activity at the start of the product and service development process in order to steer innovation work in the right direction in collaboration with the customer. This framework enables us to work in accordance with the innovation mantra of “Fail fast, fail often”. We start with a broad range of ideas and quickly test out whether they have the potential to solve the problem and whether they would appeal to the target group we are seeking to reach, so that we can decide which of them are worth working on further.
In addition to being an efficient approach to innovation, a design sprint creates a lot of positive energy in the team and in its relationship with customers, and this adds value to the tasks that are to be completed. Design sprints are fun and enable everyone to be involved in working on a positive challenge that also develops their skills.
Some tips for completing a successful design sprint:
- What is “the big challenge”? What problem are you trying to solve? Involve experts in order to shed light on the issue before you start.
- Set up an inter-disciplinary team
- Ensure the whole team can dedicate 100% of their time to the design sprint for its entire duration.
Itera favours completing design sprints with its customers in the course of a single week, frequently on the basis of the following agenda:
Monday - building a shared understanding of the task
The team discusses and researches the problem area. We begin at the end – what is the overall goal? What commercial opportunity do we want to create? What will success look like?
What do we need answers to from this sprint? What do we need to confirm or disprove to be on the right track?
Tuesday - developing ideas
We look for inspiration from good user experiences that have transferable value. Examples can be taken from both the analogue and the digital world, from competitors or from completely different industries.
We then set to work on developing ideas. Be open. At this stage, we are more concerned with quantity than quality. Create sketches and diagrams and explain. Build on each other’s ideas. Finish by voting for the best idea. It's a team decision.
Wednesday - focusing on a direction
The aim of this day is to choose the part of the service that it is the most important to prototype in order to quality-assure the idea.
Identify and draw an experience map/overall user journey based on questions such as: How does the user find your service? What will his/her first experience of the product or service be? When and how will it be used? What will the experience be? What will happen afterwards?
Use the experience map to add further details and to refine the idea so there is a good basis for creating a prototype.
Thursday - prototyping
The prototype needs to be simple, focused and testable. It can be paper-based or digital, a role play or a physical object. It does not need to be perfect, just sufficiently realistic for testing it out to be worthwhile.
Friday - user testing
We test out the product on people who are representative of the target audience. The team observes and analyses continuously. A joint summing-up discussion meeting is held to discuss the findings and patterns observed.
The design sprint ends by using what we have learnt to determine whether the idea can solve “the big challenge” and whether we need to improve the prototype, or whether we should simply discard the idea altogether.
Regardless of the outcome, the design sprint will have been an important learning experience without spending too much money or time.