Of all the discovery methods we use for designing and evaluating product or feature concepts, the 'Design Sprint' is particularly interesting.
Design Sprints have the tremendous advantage of delivering genuine customer feedback on a functional product or feature proposal within just five days. Traditional market research, on the other hand, is either very abstract, because it only takes into account general wishes and preferences, or it is not employed until late in the development cycle, once a product has been almost fully developed. The framework for Design Sprints originally developed by Google Ventures (among others), however, ensures that specific feedback on a prototype is collected at a very early stage. This feedback can be used to gauge an idea's chances of success and to clearly determine user preferences among a range of options for a feature.
Due to their speed, Design Sprints can also be especially helpful in phases where product development is under serious time pressure or has run into a design dead-end. After a professionally directed Design Sprint, further product or feature development can continue with considerably more focus and greater chances of success – providing, that is, that the idea's market potential is still regarded as sufficiently high. In any case, Design Sprints minimise the risk of failed strategic investments, making them a particularly valuable technique to use with more daring (or even disruptive) ideas. The five-day Design Sprint even includes the development of a prototype. This has enabled the format to establish itself as a highly efficient and productive approach which delivers major benefits and which, accordingly, has been implemented by a large number of product developers.
Application areas, examples and benefits
1.) Test of new approaches or strategies to resolving a problem or providing a service
- Example: Chatbot as a marketplace provider
- Advantage: A new approach's chances of success are indicated by genuine customer feedback within 5 days instead of 5 months
2.) Design of new features / products
- Example: Chatbot personality (informal vs. formal)
- Advantage: Indication of customer preferences when it comes to feature design
3.) Evaluation of potential further product developments or validation of suspected customer pains using real examples
- Example: Feature A vs. Feature B (which is more important to the customer?)
- Advantage: Feedback gathered from real customers on a real prototype
The Design Sprint Process
The five days of the Design Sprint are divided into the activities Map, Sketch, Decide, Prototype and Test. The sprint team uses this framework to design a solution within just one week. This solution is based on a common understanding of the customer problem and the main solution idea, both of which are defined on Day 1. Day 2 is spent developing a number of potential options, one of which is selected and designed on Day 3. A prototype for the proposed solution is implemented on Day 4, and tested on Day 5 in interviews with real customers. These five days are preceded by a preparation phase which serves to identify, refine and define the key challenge of the Design Sprint, to select the sprint team members, to engage the problem experts for the first day and perhaps even to identify the first customers for the final tests.
As practitioners of this technique, we can, of course, take on the usual role of facilitator for the whole sprint, as well as that of interviewer for the final day. As IT project specialists, however, we are also in a position to add particular value to this format by staffing our Design Sprint teams with selected IT experts who are thoroughly familiar with the implementation of digital products and services. Unlike single-function product development companies or creative agencies, we build practical implementation considerations into the creative process from the very outset, thus ensuring that all ideas and features are grounded in technical feasibility.
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Head of inovex Academy
Dr. Christoph Tempich I 24.04.2017
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