Go Behind the Scenes for Design Sprint Secrets (Part 1)

 
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Part One: Question and Connect

Recently we facilitated a Design Sprint for a budding beauty care company. In just a few days we identified the company's key challenge, devised solutions, built prototypes for a product, and tested the prototypes with real, potential customers. At the conclusion of the Sprint, the company had invaluable information about how customers feel about the product. They’ll use that information to refine the idea in its next iteration.

We wanted to provide you with a closer look into how Design Sprints work. So, this is the first part of a three-part story. In part one, we’ll describe the first day of the Design Sprint. We’ll show how our client defined key challenges and focused on a target to address these challenges. Part two will describe how we developed a final solution to meet the challenges and created a storyboard for a prototype. The third part of the story will detail the prototyping process and how we tested the prototypes with customers.

As noted above, our client is a beauty care company with an idea for a new product. Because our client hasn’t put their product on the market, we won't reveal too many secrets about their idea. But the steps we took to get there? We’re spilling it all, starting with this post.

Let’s get Sprinting!

 

First Things First: Research Download and Establishing a Long-Term Goal

We began by asking our client to download information and research to the group. This provides an introduction to the product, marketplace, and any consumer research the client has conducted. Some insights we gained from our information download included:

  • The evolution of the product
  • The product’s ingredients
  • The product's intended customers
  • The company’s philosophy about the product

We also touched, smelled, and even tasted the product (it’s made of food grade ingredients) to ground ourselves for the rest of the Design Sprint.

Next, we began creating the company’s long-term goal for the product. Defining a long-term goal is a critical component of any Design Sprint. We reserve this time to be optimistic about the company’s future. We ask your team why you are doing this project and where you envision the company being in six months, a year, or even five years from now.

 Every Design Sprint starts with a vision of the future personified by the long-term goals the organization wants to achieve.

Every Design Sprint starts with a vision of the future personified by the long-term goals the organization wants to achieve.

 

Our client’s long-term goals include:

  • Give a percentage of profits back to their local community
  • Own the manufacturing of the product
  • Enjoy minimum babysitting (production, distribution, marketing and sales will work as a fine-tuned machine)
  • Quite simply, sell the product

The goal the client selected to focus on for the Design Sprint was to sell the product.

 

Develop Sprint Questions

After selecting the long-term goal, we took a step back with the client to get real. Again, you should set the goals with a sense of optimism—that you are going to achieve them. But it would be naïve to think you won’t encounter obstacles along the way. 

So how do we best anticipate and plan for those obstacles? By asking questions. These Sprint Questions serve as our compass as we progress through the week. Any time someone is confused or stuck, we look at our Sprint Questions to help guide us to our destination. 

Everyone wrote questions and cast their votes for the best ones. Then, we turned to one key person on the team. We hope it’s apparent that Design Sprints are collaborative. But there are times when a decision must be made by one person. This is one of those times. 

The Decider is the person, typically the CEO or owner of the company, who makes the final call that directs the next course of action. At this point, our Decider had to make their first key choice: picking key questions to focus on during the rest of the Design Sprint.

Our Decider asked for feedback before selecting the Sprint Questions. The Decider chose the following two Sprint Questions:

  • Can we make the benefit of our product clear to customers?
  • Will people know how to use our product?

Our Sprint Questions were set. All there was left to do was make a map and pick a target.
 

 

Make a Map

Next, we created a map of the key interactions stakeholders would have as they experienced our product. Creating a map helps narrow your challenge and focus your efforts, and provides valuable context for crafting your sketches and prototypes. 

To create our map, we identified key stakeholders, including a customer, a marketer, and a producer. Next, we identified the key steps each stakeholder took as they interacted with our product. 

Our client was working to develop both a new product and a new company. So we didn’t have the luxury of looking at how existing customers interacted with existing products. We had to imagine the steps our stakeholders would take as they learned about, researched, purchased, and experienced the product for the first time. 

But it’s not enough to just imagine it. We needed to map it out so it could serve as a guide. Illustrations are a big part of Design Sprints, and mapping the key interactions helped us visualize the experience in a powerful fashion.

Remember, our long term goal is to sell the product. Our map focused on customer interactions, while showing how the other stakeholders supported those interactions at key times. Below is a shot of our final map. 
 

 The map we created to narrow our challenge and focus our efforts provides valuable context for the remainder of the Design Sprint. 

The map we created to narrow our challenge and focus our efforts provides valuable context for the remainder of the Design Sprint. 

 

Create "How Might We" Questions

At this point we revisited our Sprint Questions. We re-framed them into "How Might We" statements—HMW for short. Rather than asking “Can we solve X,” which tends to lead to yes or no responses, we changed our Sprint Questions to “How might we solve for X.” It’s more than semantics. This framing tool is valuable because it opens you and your team up for exploration, which is perfect for generating ideas in the next phase of the Design Sprint. (For more about using “how might we” statements, check out our previous post: Meetings are terrible. Here’s how to fix them.)

 

Pick a Target

All these activities—defining a long-term goal, developing Sprint Questions, mapping stakeholder interactions, and asking HMW questions—led us to another key decision point. This time, it was picking a target we would focus on for the rest of the Design Sprint.

As shown below, this step includes selecting a stakeholder and key interactions on our map. We also placed our Sprint Questions next to the interactions they paired with on the map. The image below shows the target our Decider selected. We were now equipped with a clear direction for the rest of our Design Sprint.
 

 A shot of our map with target stakeholder and key interactions next to our Sprint Questions.

A shot of our map with target stakeholder and key interactions next to our Sprint Questions.

 

Conclusion

At the end of the first day, we established a long-term goal and uncovered the questions we’d have to answer on the path to achieving that goal. We created a map that showed the key interactions each stakeholder must take to achieve the goal. And we selected a target on that map that we would focus on for the rest of the Design Sprint. 

We were now ready to move into idea generation. Be sure to stay tuned for part two of our story, which will detail how we created solutions and decided on one to prototype and test with customers.

Want to see a Design Sprint in action? Check out our upcoming Design Sprint Bootcamp with Jake Knapp, the creator of Design Sprints and author of Sprint. Learn more about our Bootcamp at wilysprints.com.


Eric Gorman is owner and designer at Wily, an agency that makes design easy so people can unlock their genius. Eric has helped design and deliver Design Sprints for Fortune 100 and 500 firms, federal and city governments, and nonprofit institutions. Follow him on Facebook (fb.me/eric.j.gorman) and Twitter (twitter.com/ericjgorman).