Answering questions early with design sprints

By: Maria Matveeva

In this day and age, efficiency is crucial—we live in a world where the rate at which we progress is almost unsettling. In business, efficiency becomes essential in that we must keep up with our competitors, not waste anyone’s time, and operate economically and efficiently, all without sacrificing quality. While strategy is possible without an outside party, we’re often too close to a situation to see the drawbacks and obstacles.

We’re often sensitive about the things we know best, and that’s not a bad thing—it only makes sense that we should be so invested in our work. A new perspective is advantageous in that it allows for a number of unique observations, exposing potential pitfalls and eliminating assumptions. A design sprint can be a good way to enlist that outside perspective.

A while back, I explained what design sprints are for: >The purpose of a sprint is not to deliver a whole product, but a realistic model of a product experience. In a few cases a product experience may be small and focused enough to be encompassed entirely in the sprint. More likely, a design sprint focuses on a specific aspect of an application, and a single user story.

Action towards the implementation of a product may seem more favorable option than planning. However, strategizing and answering unknowns via a design sprint is an investment that will pay dividends by saving so much time and sparing a lot of frustration down the line. Further, involving all the different players (e.g. strategists, engineers, designers, potential users) allows us to brings realism to the project.

The best time for a sprint is not after a project has already started, but before any implementation work has begun. A design sprint early in the planning stages will go a long way to reduce uncertainty and validate the current project’s merit. That way, your team can confidently focus on the project’s success.

Harvard Business Review recommends sprints because they help “focus on what’s important.” To get an idea of how a design sprint could work for you, check out the open source Design Sprint Guide we’ve produced to explain how design sprints can reduce uncertainty by efficiently testing business ideas.