A few weeks ago I joined People Make’s design sprint training workshop.

What’s a design sprint?

A design sprint is a process for exploring a problem then proposing and validating a solution in one working week (or less).

The process is a strictly ordered checklist of activities divided into sections which will be familiar to any designer:

  • Find and define challenges
  • Create and vote on solutions
  • Design and build a prototype
  • Test and analyse results

It brings together people from diverse roles, and everyone contributes, so ownership of the outcome is shared. The outcome may be imperfect or incomplete, but it comes with a wealth of useful byproducts and lessons which can inform future work.

In short: it’s a microcosm of the design process which gives rapid results.

The People Make workshop

Calum & Penny distill the four-day Design Sprint 2.0 process (an evolution of Jake Knapp’s five-day process) into a hands-on two-day workshop.

Drawing crazy 8s, a design sprint brainstorming activity

In their words, “anyone can read the book, but often that’s not enough to feel able to confidently identify a challenge, influence teams and run a sprint.” Therefore the workshop is run as a mock sprint on a lightning schedule, where attendees get practical experience in every activity and insight from a pair of seasoned facilitators.

Usually I expect to leave a training session with my hand aching from furiously scribbling notes, but afterwards all attendees receive a comprehensive toolkit including document templates, checklists, and facilitator tips, so you can focus on the lesson at hand.

Takeaways

The key messages for me were:

  • Creativity isn’t required
    
Just bring your brain, the process leads to creative outcomes.
  • Keep to the schedule
    
The group will progress even if one person didn’t finish.
  • Don’t try to fill two roles
    
For example, it’s hard to be the facilitator and the designer, particularly in your first design sprint. Another pair of hands and eyes also brings another perspective.

Crucially I’ve come away with the confidence that I can guide a group to reach useful outcomes with this process. I’m looking forward to putting it into practice!

I’ll also be visiting Sprint Stories for more examples and inspiration, and now I have a time timer on my wishlist. Maybe I can use it in the kitchen…