Why walk when you can sprint?

Design sprints. Agile. Scrum. You’ve heard the buzz words, you get the gist. It’s the language of tech startups and fast-moving, small organisations. It’s a great theory but it can’t work in big organisations, right?

Man pointing at whiteboard

There are a lot of benefits to applying lean startup methodologies such as design sprints in large organisations. In simple terms, design sprints are a fast and efficient tool for problem-solving. Teams engage with key issues, identify opportunities and turn these insights into solutions. So what makes this method so effective? Read on to discover the top 5 reasons to run a design sprint for your organisation.

Your people, your results

Traditional business sense says if you don’t have the resources to do something, you hire someone to do it for you. You bring your problem to a consultant and they provide a solution. Then they take their fee and ride off into the sunset. No accountability, no plan for a rollout and no lasting impact on your business.

Design sprints are different for 2 reasons. First, your people make up the project team. These are the folks keeping your business running every day which makes them the best people to work on your most pressing issues. This means that you get relevant solutions while also up-skilling your workforce. Your team will walk away with a toolkit of agile problem-solving skills they can apply time and time again. Did someone say return on investment?

Gotta go fast

Scope creep is the slow expansion of a project’s parameters until it becomes untenable. This is one of the key reasons that many projects fail. Action gives way to ever-shifting deadlines and unproductive meetings make progress slow. The worst part is that most of this time is lead time rather than actual work which is a tremendous waste.

Design sprints, as the name suggests, are all about speed. By confining the design process into a single week, teams literally have to sprint to the finish line. This gives your organisation actionable insights quicker than you could get a meeting in your CEO’s calendar. And the best news? If something changes, you’re only a week away from working out how to adapt to these new challenges.

One at a time, please

It is a seldom accepted fact that humans are terrible at multi-tasking. It diminishes results and productivity and makes for a stressful, dissatisfied workforce. We all have those important tasks in our inbox that we “haven’t had time to look at.” In truth, the problem isn’t a lack of time so much as a lack of mental space. Tasks that have a soft deadline somewhere in the future fail to make it to the top of our mental priority list. The result? Innovation gets placed in the too hard basket and the organisation fails to move forward.

A Design Sprint takes your team out of the pressure cooker of business-as-usual. This creates the mental space to dig into the issues and opportunities they are facing. This freedom enables greater creativity and helps to uncover brand new solutions. You’ll be scratching your head asking “why didn’t we think of that?”

Make it work

Many projects fall over at the implementation stage which can be for many reasons.  Research, brainstorming and procedure can overtake the problem that started the whole process. The result is an environment that is full of great ideas with little proof that any are better than the rest. Long, complicated design projects seldom keep things simple. By the time you have something to present to a user, your solution may be too bloated to understand. Even worse, it may not even address the issue you set out to resolve.

Design sprints encourage teams to take decisive action on the most promising ideas. The short time frame removes the ability to get bogged down in the details. This means that the outcome of the sprint is an actionable solution. No complex document that no one will ever read. No diverging solutions that favour features over function. The solution will focus on the most pressing issue first. Features, add ons and refinement can come later once the core purpose is met.

Proof pudding

Market testing often happens far too late in the process for traditional projects. There is a tendency to wait until the solution is near completion to take it to users. By the time this happens, huge amounts of time, money and effort have been expended.  Negative feedback at this stage can leave the project team scrambling to salvage their hard work.

The final step of a design sprint is to present the solution to the intended users. The idea is to create a prototype that communicates the solution in a clear and usable format. Users get a hands-on impression and can feedback on whether the solution has hit the mark.

Asking the right questions at the design phase can avoid unnecessary expenditure. If the feedback is negative, the project can pivot to better suit the user’s needs. If the feedback is positive, the project can proceed as planned. This provides confidence that your solution will provide value to your stakeholders. That’s the definition of a win-win!

Ready, set…

Done right, a design sprint is a great way to tap into the potential of your organisation. It saves time and money and bakes the experience of your team into the design process. The outcome speaks for itself. You can trust that the process has tested the idea against the opinion that matters; the end-users. It’s a better way to approach problem-solving, whatever your issues look like.

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