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The Challenges Solved by Design Sprints

Delta Innovate Workshop
November 8, 2022
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VP Services, Delta Innovate

If you've worked with our team, you'll know that one of our favourite tools in our toolbox is the Design Sprint.

The Design Sprint is a powerful tool. Our team has found that it can address most challenges commonly faced by organisations during the innovation process.

It is a structured and time-constrained process used to solve complex problems, generate innovative ideas, and develop and test prototypes in a short period. Using a highly collaborative approach, the tool brings together cross-functional teams to work intensively on a specific challenge or project.

The typical duration of a Design Sprint is five consecutive days, however, we have often created custom variations of this process in order to fit the unique requirements of each partner we work with.

The process was designed by Jake Knapp and his team at Google Ventures (now known as GV) and is often associated with the book "Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days."

Here are some key challenges that we find Design Sprints can help tackle:

  1. Unclear Problem Definition: Design Sprints facilitate a clear understanding of the problem at hand. This tool brings stakeholders together to define the challenge, and its process is designed to help align everyone on the issue and its nuances.
  2. Lack of Alignment: Design Sprints involve cross-functional teams in a collaborative setting, yet it also assigns a decision maker within the process, with one of its principals being "getting started over being right". This helps align diverse perspectives, ensuring that everyone shares a common goal and approach.
  3. Slow Decision-Making: The tool accelerate decision-making by condensing the process into a short timeframe. Rapid prototyping and testing provide concrete insights, making decisions more data-driven. Another one of its principles supports this process - "Tangible outcomes over endless discussions" 
  4. Risk of Wasting Resources: Before investing significant time and resources into development, Design Sprints allow for quick validation of ideas through user testing. This minimises the risk of building something that users don't actually need or want - with the design sprint, you test your prototype with actual customers. 
  5. Limited User Input: Design Sprints involve users early in the process. This ensures that the final product is aligned with user needs and preferences, reducing the chances of building something that doesn't resonate.
  6. Innovation Stagnation: This tool injects innovation into the development process by encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and ideation - which helps break free from conventional solutions and fosters creativity.
  7. Complex Problem Solving: Design Sprints break down complex challenges into manageable steps. This simplifies the problem-solving process and allows teams to focus on specific aspects one at a time.
  8. Lack of User-Centricity: By incorporating user feedback throughout the sprint, Design Sprints ensure that the end product is user-centric. This prevents organisations from developing solutions that are detached from user needs. At Delta Innovate, we will often run 2-3 iterations on a design sprint before we get to the final solution - providing us ample opportunity to get customer feedback and iterate based off of this.
  9. Difficulty in Prioritisation: These sprints help teams prioritise features and solutions by allowing them to visualise and test different options. This way, teams can make informed decisions based on user feedback.
  10. Siloed Teams: Design Sprints encourage cross-functional collaboration, breaking down departmental silos. This fosters a holistic approach where different teams contribute their expertise to the solution.
  11. Resistance to Change: As an innovation tool - experimentation and risk-taking are encouraged in this setting. This helps overcome resistance to change by showing that innovation is a structured and manageable process.
  12. Time Constraints: When time is limited, a Design Sprint offers a structured approach to achieving significant progress within a short timeframe. This is especially beneficial when deadlines are tight.

These are just a few of the challenges that we have seen Design Sprints solve in the projects we have been a part of, which is why it is always one of our go-to tools in our Innovation Toolbox.

If you are interested in learning more about how we, at Delta Innovate, leverage Design Sprints, get in touch with one of our innovation experts today.

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