The Ultimate Guide To Design Sprint 2.0

This is the ultimate guide for facilitators on how to run the Design Sprint in 2019.

The original design sprint was published in 2016 in the book “Sprint” by Jake Knapp from Google and then improved by AJ&Smart in 2018.

Design sprint gives your team a shortcut to learning without building and launching an actual product.

Startups usually get only one good shot at a successful product before they run out of money.

Design Sprint explained
Design Sprint explained

Sprints can help you find out if you’re on the right track before you commit to the risky business of building and launching your products.

There is money to be made, and saved, from running sprints, because you can bring vision to life in just 4 days, not 4 months!

Before you start:

Design Sprint 2.0 Schedule:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday


Don’t have time to read it now?



What is Design Sprint 2.0?

Jake Knapp designed this framework to bring design into Google in a way that was measurable, logical and more specific than design thinking.

To put it simply:

Design sprint is a 4 day system for building better products faster.

This is a great way of utilizing collective intellect together, to come up with design solution that everybody feel like they have some stake in it.

Design Sprint 2.0 Schedule
Design Sprint 2.0 Schedule

In 2018 Jake collaborated with AJ&Smart to make it even more effective – and that’s how Sprint 2.0 came out.

The main difference is that the original design sprint (described in the book) takes 5 days and now it’s contracted to 4 days – some exercises were reorganized, trimmed or changed for efficiency.

Who is this workshop for?

It works for all kind of customers, from investors to farmers, from oncologists to small-business owners.

It worked for websites, iPhone apps, paper medical reports and high-end hardware.

It’s not only used for developing products, but also for prioritization, marketing strategy, and even for naming companies.

In addition to Google, Design Sprints have been run by teams at Slack, Uber, Airbnb, Medium, Dropbox, Facebook, McKinsey, IDEO, LEGO, the United Nations, the New York Times, and many, many more.

Brands that run designs prints.
Brands that run designs prints.

Jake worked with clients like Anne Wojcicki (founder of 23andMe), Ev Williams (founder of Twitter, Blogger, and Medium), and Chad Hurley and Steve Chen (founders of YouTube).

Focus on what is truly important and make your time count!

Who needs to be in the room?

First, you need to assemble your team: you will need a leader and a set of diverse skills.

Sprints are most successful with a mix of people: engineers, designers, product managers and so on (max 7).

These are the people who will be in the room with you, all day, everyday during the design sprint.

The team for design sprint.
The team for design sprint.

Recruit a team of 7 or less:

  • CEO (Decider) – Who makes decisions for your team?
  • Finance – Who can explain where the money comes from and goes?
  • Tech – Who can understand what your company can build and deliver?
  • Marketing – Who crafts your company’s messages?
  • Design – Who designs the products your company makes?
  • Customer – Who regularly talks to customers one-on-one?

And of course you – the facilitator.

The process brings the team together in order to have them work on an idea at the same time.

What tools do you need

You will need whiteboards, at least 2 or 3 big whiteboards is a must.

You will also need some vary basic office supply that you probably already have in your office.

    • Dry erase marker
    • Sharpie marker
    • 3×5 Post-it
    • Square Post-it
    • Visual timer e.g. Time Timer
    • Avery color coding dots (2 sizes)

The room itself will become sort of a “shared brain” for the team with a lot of notes on whiteboards, post-its on the wall and concepts literally everywhere!

Design sprint supplies.
Design sprint supplies.

To make the best use of that time an attention, you need a good workspace.

Make sure you have all the necessary supplies before you start.

Check the full list of the design sprint supplies here.

Get some healthy snacks

Good snacks will help keep your team’s energy up thorough the day.

Get real food like apples, bananas, yogurt, cheese, and nuts.

For a boost, have dark chocolate, coffee, and tea.

Healthy Snacks for design sprint.
Healthy Snacks for design sprint.

Remember to get more than enough for everybody.

There will be a lunch break, but please avoid heavy meals, as this will make you sluggish.


Monday: Ask The Experts

This is the very first thing that happens in the design sprint on Monday.

You will basically interview people by acting as a reporter.

Ask the experts to share what they know about product/service.

While you interview the experts, other team member will take notes in form of questions.

Ask The Experts exercise.
Credit: Google Ventures (YouTube)

You ask everyone to write HMW (“How might we”) in the top left corner of a post-it.

While experts talk, have everyone take notes in the form of questions.

Start with the decision maker by asking her about the vision, customer research, how things work, and previous efforts, or how things would look like in 2 years.

How Might We - example.
Design Sprint: How Might We – example.

At the end of this exercise everyone should have multiple HMW notes.

Make people stick all their HMW notes on the wall.

Then get everyone up of their seats and have them stick their notes on the wall.

How Might We exercise.
Credit: Google Ventures (YouTube)

Once all of the notes are up on the wall, then you organize them.

Ask the team to organize HMWs into categories.

This is actually just a trick to make everyone read each other’s notes (categories are less important).

Organize HMW notes.
Organize HMW notes.

Once HMWs are categorized, then you hand out each participant 2 red dots, but the decider gets 4 dots.

Ask everyone to vote on the most important HMWs.

The voting exercise is there to prioritize the most important challenges.

Voting on HWMs.
Credit: Google Ventures (YouTube)

Once all the team members used all their dots, then you reorganize it into a voting tree.

Organize notes by putting those with the most dots at the top, and the rest below.

So that you end up with challenges prioritized according to importance.

The next exercise is defining the long-term goal.

Monday: Long-term goal

This exercise is about looking into the future of your company, app or whatever you’re working on.

Ask the team this questions:

In 2 years time, if everything worked out absolutely perfectly what would be the best case scenario?

Give participants rectangular post-it notes and ask everyone write “in 2 years time…” at the top.

Long-term Goal exercise.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Then ask them to write down their goals – just one per person is enough.

Ask the team to put their notes up on the wall.

As they do this one-by-one, you ask everyone to read aloud what they have written.

Long-term goal reading.
Long-term goal reading.

So that everyone will get a sense of what the team is thinking is the 2 year goal.

Next ask everyone to vote on the goals.

Give everyone on the team one red dot, and make the decider stay out of this voting round.

Voting on Long-term goals.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Once everyone has voted, you’re going to see what they’re leaning toward.

Ask the decider to pick the ultimate goal by placing the green dot.

Let the decider know that she can agree with the team or chose something different.

Monday: Sprint questions

Next you ask the whole team what could go wrong with the goal that the decider picked.

Ask the team: what could stop us from getting there?

Give everyone the block of rectangular post-its again and ask them to come up with 2 or 3 sprint questions that starts with “Can we…”

So that “can we…” will be in the top right corner of the block.

Sprint Questions exercise.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Get everybody to write down what the biggest challenges will be in reaching our long-term goal.

Next, get everyone to stand up one-by-one and put all these questions up on the wall reading each one aloud.

Once you have all the the sprint questions on the wall, you get the team to do the voting again.

This time give everyone 3 red dots and about 5-7 minutes to pick what they think the top 3 sprint questions are.

Voting on sprint questions.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Next, ask the decider to choose the top sprint question by giving her the green dot.

Then you write down the long term goal and the top 3 sprint questions on the whiteboard.

It’s important to keep these things on the whiteboard, because thorough the entire design sprint you gonna be always looking back at this.

Writing down Goals and Sprint questions.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Once you have the long term goal and the 3 sprint questions written on the whiteboard, it’s time to do the map.

Monday: Map Exercise

Your map will show customers moving through your service or product.

Start with those categories: “Discovery”, “Learning”, “Using”, “Goal”.

Building a MAP.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Once you have a table like that, then you add an actor on the left e.g. B2B customer.

Then you immediately jump to the end point – what’s the goal for this customer?

You create the map in major part to figure out your target, so that you now where your focus for the rest of the design sprint is going to be.

Don’t worry about getting all the steps of customer touch-points perfectly correct.

Start with the discovery by asking people “How these customers make their way to our website?”

Example of a MAP.
Example of a MAP.

Ask people what are the touch-points, how do these customers discover our product/service?

Don’t waste time on trying to get it perfect, e.g. if someone says “Web Search” – just write it down.

Then go to the learning column by asking participants: “How do the customers learn about our product/service?

Keep asking participants questions about customer journey to fill out the map.

This is a real example of the real design sprint from the book:

How to build a MAP.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Then you take the top 3 voted HMWs and ask the team: “Where on the map we can place this HMW?”

Then you choose a focal point on your map that you’re going to focus on for the rest of the sprint.

However, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to ignore the rest of the map, it just means we will give it more attention.

Finding the focal point on the MAP.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Once we have the map, the next exercise is “Lighting demo”.

Monday: Lightning demo

This exercise is going to sort of inspire the team – we’re searching for existing ideas you can use to inform your solutions.

We don’t have to come up with everything from scratch, so think of this exercise as a short research session.

  1. Come up with a list or products to review for inspiring solutions
  2. Show the team what’s cool about your inspiration (3min demos)
  3. Remember to capture all the big ideas on the whiteboard

Give your team 25 min to do the research, tell them to browse through the internet and come up with 3 examples (big ideas) that you like (inspirations).

Lightning Demo exercise
Design Sprint: Lightning demo.

Then you ask the each person to explain what was the “big idea” behind their inspiration.

While they explain, have someone on the team taking notes about those ideas/inspirations.

For example: “I love how Spotify lets you discover new music” – the note taker will write it down as “Spotify: discovery feature”.

Lightning demo - notes.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Next you put these notes up on the wall – this is going to serve as a reminder in the sketching phase.

The next exercise is the “4 Step Sketch”.

Monday: 4 Step Sketch

Now it’s time to come up with solutions, but you won’t be shouting over one another – you’ll work individually.

These sketches will become the fuel for the rest of the design sprint.

There are four parts to the 4 step sketch:

  1. Notes
  2. Ideas
  3. Crazy 8’s
  4. Solutions

Sketching is the fastest and easiest way to transform abstract ideas into concrete solutions.

4 Step Sketch exercise.
4 Step Sketch exercise.

Step one is to take notes in order to refresh your memory before you commit to a solution.

First, get everyone to take a clipboard and a blank piece of paper and have them walk around the room and copy things down.

Gathering information before sketching.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

This is just about collecting everything that we have on the wall and taking notes.

Everyone should end up with a couple pages of notes.

Then you look at the notes and make some of those ideas a little bit more tangible.

Draw sketches for the next 20 minutes

Use as many pages as you like and the ideas is just to get you started – it doesn’t have to be beautiful or super accurate.

Sketching ideas.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

In this step jot down rough ideas, filing a piece of paper with doodles, sample headlines, diagrams etc. (this won’t be shared with anyone).

The next exercise is the “Crazy 8’s” – this is a little bit more complicated.

Take ideas from your previous step and try a few iterations of them.

Take a piece of paper and fold t 3x so that when you unfold it you gonna have 8 squares.

How to do Crazy 8's exercise.
How to do Crazy 8’s exercise.

Then set a timer for 8 minutes.

Draw your idea eight different times (iterations)

So you spend 1 minute with each square to draw you idea.

The Crazy Eight's exercise.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

The moderator will let you know when your minute is up and you have to move to the next square no matter where you are.

Make sure to always keep writing and keep drawing.

Once everyone’s done, let’s move to the last part of this exercise – the “Solution Sketch”.

4. Solution Sketch

The solution sketch is each person’s best idea, put down on paper in detail.

Create a detailed, thought-out and easy to understand sketch.

These sketches will be looked over and judged by the rest of the team.

Solution Sketch.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Use 3 pieces of paper taped together and add some sticky notes on them.

Each person is responsible for creating one solution sketch.

Tips:

  • Focus on one idea and make it self explanatory
  • Ugly is OK – this is not a drawing competition
  • Words matter – pay extra attention to the writing
  • Your sketch will be anonymous, so give it a nickname

Keep in mind that you will not be able to explain your idea to the team tomorrow.

You can only describe it on your solution sketch in simple words.

Give everyone 30 minutes to finish one sketch.

Once everyone is finished, put the solution sketches in a pile, but don’t look at them.

You will see them tomorrow morning.

Tuesday: The Art Museum

On Tuesday morning, you will critique each solution and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal.

Put the solution sketches on the wall with masking tape.

Make sure you space them out nicely, just like the paintings in a museum.

The Art Museum.
The Art Museum.

You need a lot of space between them, because people will be walking around and sticking dots so you want this to be nice experience.

Step 1: Heat Maps

You give everyone a sheet of red dots and tell them to take their time and roam around the room to read the concepts.

Check the concepts and if you see something interesting – put dots on it.

In this exercise, we’re trying to create heat-maps here to see where interesting ideas are coming up.

Solution Sketch - heat maps.
Credit: Google Ventures (YouTube)

Instruct participants to not discuss concepts at this point, just stick as many dots as they feel by the concepts or parts of concepts they like.

If you have questions write it on a post-it and place below the concept.

Set time for 20 minutes and encourage people to use more dots than in previous exercises.

Step 3: Speed critique

Next facilitator will get together the team and describe each solution sketch in 3 minutes.

Walk around to discuss each concept, one at a time.

As a facilitator, you summarize each concept putting a lot of focus on where the dots are.

Solution Sketch - speed critique.
Solution Sketch – speed critique.

This might be challenging for you as a facilitator because you haven’t seen concepts yet, but try to be as concise as possible.

Appoint one team member to take notes about standout ideas and stick them above.

As a facilitator you will also read out the questions that are below concepts and try to answer them if you can.

Solution Sketch - taking notes.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Once you finished summarizing the concepts, you ask if there’s something that was discussed but you didn’t quite get it right.

Step 4: Straw Pool

Straw poll is a non-binding vote used to gauge a group’s opinion.

Give everyone 5 minutes and one green dot to vote on a solution to prototype.

Exclude the decider, because this voting is actually a way to give the Decider some advice.

Solution Sketch - voting.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Also as they vote ask them to write down on a post-it why they’re choosing this solution.

Then give everyone a minute to tell the decider why they should pick this concept.

Tip: as a facilitator remind the team that their choice should be based on the long-term goal and spring questions.

Step 5: The Super Vote

So far everyone has pitched and the decider was just listening to the team, but this step is the ultimate voting.

Ask the decider which concept we’re going to work on.

Give the decider 2 dots with little stars on them and 10 minutes to make a decision.

Solution Sketch - the super vote.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

The decider can either consult team members and ask questions, or just decide silently and put the dots on the final concepts we’re going to move forward with.

The Decider can select one concept or decide to combine one with features from another one.

Tuesday: The User Flow

At this point in the design sprint you’ve got a winning concept and you’re ready to embark on storyboarding.

Draw eight empty cells on the whiteboard.

The user will take steps in our prototype and these are represented by the cells.

The User Flow exercise.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Before we actually start drawing in those cells, we need to write action steps.

Step 1: Write 6 action steps

What are action steps? – think about clicks or movements that will take to get to the next scene.

Ask everyone to write down six action steps individually.

Give everyone a block of post-it and a sharpie to write one action on each post-it (individually).

The User Flow - Six action step.
The User Flow – Six action step.

Write down six action steps, each on a new post-it. For example: “User reads FB page and clicks on article”.

Tip: Write the first action step, then write the last action step. Then just fill in the blanks.

You can look at the Map to inspire your first step and also look at the Sprint questions to figure out what the last step could be.

Step 2: Put them up and read aloud

Once everyone wrote their six steps.

Ask everyone to take a minute to read them aloud while sticking on the board.

The decider should go either first, or last so that she can hear all of the other test flows.

The User Flow - putting it up.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Now that we have a few user flows (different ideas) – we’re up to voting.

The voting is similar as in previous exercises.

Step 3: Vote on user flows

Each team member gets 1 voting dot and the decider gets 2 dots.

Give the team 5 minutes to vote on the user flows.

You can vote on the whole flow, or just put the the dot on a step from another flow if you want to add it to the winning flow.

The User Flow - voting.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

The goals of this voting is to understand where your team is aligning on their understanding of the concept.

Step 4: Circle the winning flow

Now the team sees exactly what steps the user will be taking in the prototype.

Circle the winning flow (chosen by the decider’s vote).

The User Flow - selecting a winner.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

The decider may also like one of the action steps from another row, so you bring it to the winning flow.

This is going to save us a lot of time when looking at the empty cells in our storyboard.

Tuesday: Storyboarding Part 1

Step 1: Draw 8 cells

We’re going to translate those 6 steps from the user flow into what happens on each screen.

The first step is to draw 8 cells on the whiteboard.

It might me more depending on how many user flow steps you have (add a few more).

How to draw a Storyboard.
How to draw a Storyboard.

Step in the user flow might translate into more than one screen – that’s why we give ourselves some extra cells.

Step 2: Place steps inside the cells

Next you place those user flow steps inside the cells.

Once you have the user flow, you can begin your storyboarding session.

Place your action steps into the blank storyboard cells.

Now, everyone knows what’s gonna happens exactly in each step.

Storyboard - placing action steps.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

The storyboarding is one of the most difficult exercises in the design sprint.

But since we have the user flow done, it will be much easier and faster.

Step 3: Find drawings to reuse

Look around the room to find the concepts and see if you can find drawings that we can re-use.

It might be from the winning concept or from the other concepts.

Find parts of the concepts that we can place inside the cells.

That will allow us to have part of the storyboarding job done fast, without having to draw everything from scratch.

Storyboard - filling out.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

At this point don’t do anything unnecessary – no new ideas!

Just place whatever you can from the concepts into the storyboard cells.

The purpose of the storyboard is to leave no open questions for the prototypers in the next phase.

Tuesday: Storyboarding Part 2

Now is the time to fill in the missing pieces with drawings.

Start by drawing in the first cell, then jump to the last step.

Doing the 1st and then the last is a good idea to make it more efficient.

Drawing a storyboard.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Then you fill in the rest of the cells in-between.

Tip: Give people side tasks so that other team members can work on different screens and we move forward faster as a team.


Wednesday: Prototype

Just focus on building what already been sketched and divide the job to different team members.

Don’t add any new ideas, just execute the storyboard.

Remember that you’re building a prototype (a facade) just to test and validate the idea, so don’t get bugged down into details.

Prototyping day.
Credit: Google Ventures (YouTube)

How to divide jobs in sotryboarding session:

  • Writer – coming up with the copy
  • Asset collector – finding stock images, illustrations etc.
  • Stitcher – a person who make sense everything is consistent

Before we jump into this exercise, I have 5 tips for you:

  1. Have a quiet room – make sure people are not disturbed during the prototyping session
  2. Prioritize screens – take the storyboard and select the most important pieces to focus on
  3. Time boxing – make sure you allocate enough time to build the most important pieces
  4. Check-ins – e.g: have dedicated check-ins (2 or 3) when other team member can check on progress
  5. Prototype the idea – it’s only about key pieces of the idea that we want to test, not the whole thing

Which prototyping tools should you use?

  • You can’t go wrong with Sketch.
  • If it’s just a standard prototype, you will go with InVision.
  • If you need to have video or audio in it, you will go with something like Flinto.
  • If you must have some programmable actions in there, you will go with Axure or Framer.

Before the day is over make sure you run a test trial (around 3pm) to make sure the whole prototype make sense before you start testing it tomorrow with real users.


Thursday: User Test

This is the part where you will present your prototype to a real user.

There’s only the user and the interviewer in the room (not the whole team!)

Then you will watch the user’s reaction and break down the feedback to positives/negatives, so you need 2 different colors of post-its.

Conducting User Test.
Conducting User Test.

Pay attention to what people say e.g. “wow, I like that!” – you will want to write this down on the green post-its.

If someone didn’t understand or didn’t find it necessary – you will write it on the orange ones.

The whole group will be watching the interview live in the other room (use Skype or Zoom) and take notes.

User Test - taking notes.
Credit: Google Ventures (YouTube)

Keep in mind that you can conduct user testing in two ways: either in person, or remotely (e.g. using Google Hangouts).

Set aside about 45min up to an hour for the test and make sure the user is comfortable.

Run about 5 tests to get enough feedback to validate the idea.

Thursday: Feedback Wall

Now since we’ve got a lot of feedback from real users, we’re going to look for patterns.

Take the whiteboard and set up your testers into different columns.

Get the green and orange post-its and place the notes accordingly.

Then in the rows on the right you put all the questions that you want to get answered.

User Test - feedback wall.
Credit: AJ&Smart (YouTube)

Finally you look back at your sprint questions to see if they got answered.

The final step is to draw insights and make a plan.

Thursday: Make a plan

What can we learn from testing that prototype?

  • Overall concept – do users understand the overall concept? were they intrigued by it?
  • On-boarding – were they excited about on-boarding (first step)? Was it easy?
  • Other – what could we do to make it better? What parts can we improve?

Then you take all the data and put it into a succinct document to draw insights for the client.

The results might be twofold:

  • We’ve validated the product and now we can build it and we know what to improve.
  • We’ve learned that the users don’t understand our product and we just saved time on money.

In either case, even if the feedback tells you it’s a failure – you just learned something very valuable in just under a week.

Regardless of what happens, you probably want to run a follow-up sprint in a few weeks after you reflect on the feedback and learn from the insights.

Whatever the outcome is, you’ve got a concrete prototype and you got some immediate data, so that you can take the next steps.


Resources

I’ve written this article based on the original book by Jake Knapp and the AJ&Smart youtube channel.

Also check the Google Ventures youtube channel where Jake explains on these exercises.

Hope this guide will help you run your first design sprint successfully.

Let me know what you think in the comment below.