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Leveraging Design Sprints for Corporate Innovation

Delta Innovate Design Sprints
April 12, 2023
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VP Services, Delta Innovate

In the dynamic and competitive landscape of business today, innovation is not just a luxury—it's a necessity. However, the traditional approaches to innovation often lead to prolonged decision-making processes, siloed departments, and solutions that fail to resonate with customers.

This is where we have found design sprints can come into play, offering an accelerated innovation process that we leverage at Delta Innovate to give our partners the pace & agility of a startup.

What is it? 

The Design Sprint is a dynamic and collaborative 5 day workshop that involves ideation, streamlined prototyping, and swift user testing—all expertly compressed into a single exhilarating week. It can be used to:

  1. Design new products
  2. Enhance existing products
  3. Come up with and validate new ideas
  4. Solve big problems
  5. Prioritise big changes
  6. Align on strategies
  7. Support innovation

Originating from the ingenuity of Jake Knapp during his tenure at Google Ventures, the Design Sprint methodology combines principles from design thinking, gamification, and rapid software prototyping. Google Ventures today, still embraces this framework, consistently applying Design Sprints to their own portfolio companies.

While Design Sprints are often used within the startup product realm, they remain a relatively unexplored territory for many large-scale corporates, even though they are perfectly designed to solve many of the challenges that corporate teams often face within the innovation process.

Typical Innovation Challenges

One of the primary pain points in corporate innovation is the slow pace of decision-making, projects can go on for weeks with little progress and struggle to get alignment across all stakeholders.

Design sprints offer a solution by condensing weeks or even months of work into just a few intensive days. The process of running a design sprint can break down departmental silos, foster cross-functional collaboration and ensure that every voice is heard within the innovation process.

Another challenge we often see with our clients, is the disconnect they experience from customer needs. Traditional innovation methods often result in solutions that miss the mark when it comes to addressing real customer pain points. Design sprints take a customer-centered approach from the very beginning.

With a design sprint, you produce a tangible prototype within 1 week and test this with actual customers. By involving customers in the process, in structured user interviews, companies can ensure that their solutions align with genuine customer needs and preferences and can make decisions based off of real customer feedback.

“We’ve found that magic happens when we use big whiteboards to solve problems. As humans, our short-term memory is not all that good, but our spatial memory is awesome. A sprint room, plastered with notes, diagrams, printouts, and more, takes advantage of that spatial memory. The room itself becomes a sort of shared brain for the team.”
Jake Knapp

The Design Sprint Process: A Glimpse

The journey of a design sprint involves several key stages:

1. Understand and Define: The sprint kicks off by identifying the challenge at hand, gaining a deep understanding of customer pain points, and defining clear goals.

2. Ideate: Diverse teams come together to brainstorm ideas, allowing for a wide range of creative solutions to emerge.

3. Decide: Ideas are evaluated, and the most promising concepts are selected for further development. This decision-making is often guided by user-centered insights.

4. Prototype: A tangible prototype is created, providing a mock-up of the potential solution. This prototype is not just a visual representation—it could be a physical product, a digital interface, or a service experience.

5. Test: The prototype is put in front of real users, generating invaluable feedback that informs further refinements and iterations.

The Impact on Innovation

Design sprints create a space for teams to generate innovative solutions, which also allows teams to walk away with a new-found culture of rapid experimentation and learning. They provide attendees with a new and profound way of thinking that teams can apply to problems they face in other projects.‍

By compressing the innovation process into a focused timeframe, design sprints empower companies to pivot quickly, based on user feedback and emerging insights. This not only saves time and resources but also allows companies to stay agile and responsive to changing market dynamics.

In a world where the speed of innovation matters more than ever, design sprints provide a competitive edge. Their ability to address decision-making bottlenecks, bridge the gap between companies and customers, as well as foster a culture of customer-focused innovation, positions them as a cornerstone of modern corporate innovation.

If you'd like to learn more about how we facilitate the Design Sprint process, get in touch! 

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