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The Design Sprint: zero to launch in 5 working days

by  David Dwyer on  11/02/2015    1252 Reads

Taking startup thinking & brainstorming to a whole new level

Google pride themselves on their innovative approach to business, and not just online.  The latest offering from Google Ventures is the Design Sprint, a brainstorming workshop that achieves in a week what many start-ups take months to do.

It doesn't matter whether it's a business, a service or a product you're considering, the method is the same.  Basically you corral a team together and encourage them, in a structured way, to come up with ideas.  If you're already in business you get 4-8 people from relevant departments involved.  If you're launching a new one you get together 4-8 people you think can help.  Whatever the scenario, these people have to be able to be there all week, without distractions (no email or phones), not trying to do their normal job as well. 

On Day 1 you work out who already knows what about what you're trying to achieve.  Question of the day is "How might we -?".  Everything gets noted, in whatever medium works - whiteboards, Post-It notes, photos, the cloud, writing, sketches, video.
Day 2 is "sketch" day. Everyone draws their ideas, individually, without reference to other members of the team.  The idea is just to let all the ideas pour out, good and bad, from basic notes to complete storyboard.  Then you sift, keeping maybe a dozen.

On Day 3 you've got the remaining ideas from yesterday to choose from.  Once you've whittled the dozen down to one, you can decide who's going to help build your prototype on Day 4 and how you're going to do the market research on Day 5.

On Day 4 you create your prototype.  OK, it won't be exactly like the real thing - you've only got one day and you don't have all the factory facilities.  It may be just a PowerPoint presentation.  But it will be something to show your testers tomorrow, clear enough for them to understand the idea and respond to it.

Finally, on Day 5 you ask real potential clients what they think of your prototype, and take their feedback.  They may not like it - but at least you've tested the idea reasonably cheaply and quickly.  Or they may love it, in which case you can move into full production without wasting time on a lengthy development process.

As well as an answer, you'll have a group of people who've been through a lot together in a week, which is great for building team spirit.  They'll be proud of what they produced, which means they'll find it easy to promote and sell.  And their creative juices will be flowing, so you never know what other bright ideas they'll come up with in the days immediately after the sprint. 

The sprint process was developed by a team of bright guys at Google Ventures, and it's proved itself on a number of launches already.  Much of the info is freely shared online, both at www.gv.com/sprint/ and on Twitter (@gvdesignteam), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=http://gv.com/sprint) and, of course, on Google+.  There will even be a real book soon - now that's innovative!

David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David's academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.
 

Follow Inspire on Twitter @inspireltd and @developersos

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