ScreenInteraction - innovation and design services

Why we're trying Google Design Sprints

3 May

Many companies have begun to discover the benefits of human-centered design. But some feel it’s a big step to start working with UX and customer-driven development in all parts of the company. In order to make our award-winning practices accessible to more customers, we’re looking at ways to divide a project into smaller steps ‒ and Google Design Sprints is one of the methods that are inspiring us right now.

At Screen Interaction, we live and breathe human-centered design. It’s reflected in how we do everything, from initial project brief through research, analysis, ideation, prototyping, testing, to final delivery of product.

However, if you’re new to customer-driven development, such a project that involves developing and launching a qualitative value creating service can be perceived as a hefty investment with uncertain results. To meet the needs of clients who want to try but start on a smaller scale, we’re looking at ways to divide a project into smaller steps. We have some experience from doing shorter sprints, but we’re now looking at a more structured and compressed method, with pre-defined steps, to include in our offering.

While researching the field, we encountered Google Venture’s (GV) Design Sprint, a quick and controlled way of working that has proven results (GV is the venture capital investment arm of Alphabet, Google’s parent company). A “Sprint” can be described as a very structured process made up of two major contributions to the area of product development: Lean Startup, a well-known method within the startup world which favors experimentation, customer feedback and iterative design, and a classic IDEO design thinking process, where human-centered design is the backbone of everything.

Not all processes fit all contexts and organizations, but the method matched our initial criteria, so we did some more research to see what kind of benefits this process might offer. First out, we read the newly released and highly recommended book “Sprint - how to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days”, but we also read lots of articles, blog posts and other people’s reviews, and even watched some of the most popular videos on the subject on Youtube. We really wanted to get to the core of what Google Design Sprints really is.

The Google Design Sprint

In future blog posts, when we’ve had the opportunity to test the method in action with our customers, we’ll put forth our own definition of Google Design Sprints. For now, the best description of the method that we’ve found so far is Google Venture’s own definition:

The sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. Developed at GV, it’s a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more — packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.

During the five-day sprint, a team of up to seven people from the company get together to work through an important challenge. The purpose is to be able to make informed decisions about what to focus on (or not to focus on) next, by validating the ideas with relevant customers ‒ and to do this within a structured, time-boxed approach.

If you want to dig further into the details of Google Design Sprints right away, this blog post explains most things you need to know.

The benefits of Google Design Sprints

Since Google Design Sprints are not essentially different from our regular way of working, many of the benefits of the method listed below are already part of our daily work at Screen Interaction. That said, these are the benefits experienced by those who tested Google Design Sprint:

 

  1. Validate your ideas in 5 days

    By validating prioritized and manifested ideas with users, a sprint is a good way to get an early indication of what your organization could focus on developing further.
     
  2. Alignment and positive mindset for problem solving

    Using Sprints, you’ll create alignment in your team and focus on one part of the agreed upon problem. Challenges are formulated as opportunities, with sentences always beginning “How might we”. This creates a great foundation for ideation due to its positive, opportunity-focused mindset ‒ an important ingredient when developing innovative solutions.
     
  3. Try out the concept of human-centered design

    With a sprint, you’ll go through the elementary steps of a customer-driven design process, and even though you might not be the one facilitating it, you’ll develop a deep understanding of why every step in the process is crucial. This in turn can be used in any of your future projects.
     
  4. Get to know your team

    Running a Google Design Sprint is intense. It takes commitment and focused work for 6 hours a day during a full work week. Every activity is time-bound and facilitated. To guard against losing focus, mobile phones and computers can’t be used in the sprint room. Working this way is a great means to get to know your colleagues, co-workers, client or agency (if you are an agency and work in a cross-disciplinary team with your client). By working together in a sprint, you’ll not only create great trust in each other and a solid bond for future co-operation, but also a common vision for the road ahead.
     
  5. Meet your customers

    If you typically work at your organization’s headquarters, you probably don’t  meet your actual customers very often. This is one of the things we love about Google Design Sprint; despite the tight schedule, you also get to test out your prototypes with real customers. Seeing your idea through the eyes of your customers is often a real eye opener!
     
  6. Create a real feel through “just enough” hi-fi prototyping

    During the prototyping day, all your thoughts and ideas will be visualized in a hi-fi prototype of “just enough” quality to evoke true reactions among the users who test it. You’ll add details to the level where it just feels real and stop there, without adding any extras. You’re now one step closer to a real project - if the user needs align with your prototype.

Summary

Overall, from our previous experience with running shorter and faster projects, short design processes are great when developing and validating new ideas in a short period of time. To run several short Google Design Sprints, with different focuses and clients in a row, is by some people described as an addictive way of working, and we can imagine it is ‒ especially during a time when we’re more than ever distracted by technology.

The next step for us is to actually do some sprints ourselves. Based on what works and what doesn’t, we’ll further analyze what can be adapted, improved and implemented in our own processes. More about this in a future blog post; in the meantime, we hope that you try it out too!

By Daniel Rönnlund & Sophie Uesson

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