Still on the SXSW: Elastic Sprints Design
On March 14, CI&T's Agile Carnival lounge at SXSW 2017 in Austin provided a full day of lectures and discussions on topics such as Lean Thinking, DevOps, Machine Learning and Design Sprints. This last panel was led by Claire Shapiro, UX Program Manager and Sprint Master of Google and myself.
The Design Sprints technique was created by Google Ventures to help with critical business decisions through design, prototyping and testing with users. It is a five-day process with well-defined activities to achieve this goal.The panel introduced the concept of Elastic Design Sprints in order to shatter the myth that sprints work only for the creation of digital products for Silicon Valley startups. Practice shows that the technique can be used for various purposes and by companies of all sizes. Here are the main topics and conclusions covered in this presentation. and the interaction with the people who went to this session.
Clearly state the expectations of what will be produced in Sprint Design
The idea behind this process is to build and validate a prototype. In the end, there will be nothing in production or ready to be used by the end user. Especially in large companies, this can be perceived as a waste of time (even though the sprint lasts only five days), but the big breakthrough happens when you realize that this is actually an excellent tool to save time. If in five days you can significantly reduce the chance of producing something wrong that can consume your resources for months in vain, the math actually makes sense. Regardless of the outcome, you can be sure there will be at least one important benefit at the end of the sprint: consensus. The dynamic is super rich in making sure everyone is on the same page and understands the motivations of the direction taken.
Sprints can be run for various purposes
Google has formally named its sprints by type: Product Sprints, Process Sprints, Vision Sprints and Strategy Sprints. The main concern people have is around protoyping. How do you prototype a strategy? And a process? The answer is to always focus on a Design Sprint's goal: To validate your idea as quickly as possible. So during the prototyping phase, you can create presentations, workflows, web pages, process documents, reports or even put ribbons on the floor to simulate the creation of meeting rooms of the new office that will be built.
Invite the right people
As you think about who should be involved in your sprint, here are some tips:
- The correct Sprint Master (or facilitator). You need someone with a presence to lead the process - someone who does not let others "steal the scene,” who encourages the creative participation of all and who can ensure the process maintains a certain cadence. Without a good Sprint Master, your sprint will fail;
- Have the right decision maker in the room. You do not have to be the CEO of your company, but you need to be someone with autonomy and responsibility over the problem to be solved. The decision maker must decide, and this is not always a democratic process;
- Diversity of people. The more points of view, the greater the chance of the final solution being more interesting and less biased. Think about diverse views, backgrounds, gender and anything else that can help bring a wide range of views to your sprint;
- Representativeness: If your solution depends on a vision of security, infrastructure, etc., have representatives from these areas participating. They will become your advocates later. If they cannot attend every day, invite them to discuss specific points (e.g., ask the experts for validation) to maintain alignment.
Perform all phases (no shortcuts)
The recommendation is to always try to run the entire process, as described in Jake Knapp's book. If this is not possible, at least ensure that all five phases are performed: Understanding, draft, decision, prototyping and validation. It is possible and there are articles on how to adapt the process to three, two or even one day. But always ensure you go through the five phases.
The quickest way to kill the Sprint Design concept and to discourage everyone in your company is to run sprints and not follow through. Many people will undoubtedly consider it a sacrifice to invest five days of their time to discuss and validate an idea. So you run the risk that people will stop engaging in this process if the outcome of your sprint gets shelved or discarded because of a lack of follow through. Instead, try to connect Design Sprints to a program within your company, with teams allocated, a defined project portfolio strategy, budget, etc.
Remember: Design Sprints are elastic, and can be run for various purposes within companies of any size!