The design sprint begins by identifying a North Star. What is the direction we wish to go, regardless of how we get there? The goal is to get a result in less than 30 minutes! That is one characteristic of design sprints that is both exhilarating and terrifying – time boxing. There is no time to dither – results are accumulated fast.
Assemble the team
Assemble the experts. This will depend on the innovation you are seeking but ideally you have the “decider” present – the person who can fund or pull the plug on the innovation you hope to uncover. The rest of the group should have diverse knowledge, personalities and viewpoints – you don’t want the same ideas over and over. The size of the team should be fed by one or two pizzas. Google Ventures recommends a team no larger than 7 people.
“If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.”Jeff Bezos
Ask the experts
The facilitator (I’m going to assume that’s you, dear reader) then asks a series of provocative questions to get the team’s ideas out on the table. The goal is to find out where the team is and where it wants to go.
If the team has a hard time getting started, you can ask them to define their product, what the product is meant to solve, who uses the product and who else could benefit from it, and what would the idea product look like in two years.
These questions all assume that the design sprint is meant to help the team build upon the success of an existing product. I’ll stick with that frame in this summary of Design Sprint 2.0 and cover more transformative approaches soon.
The goal of this exercise is to uncover a sense of what the team feels about their product and its future. At the same time, it warms up the team and gives everybody a chance to contribute, which is something we need throughout the sprint.
How might we?
While the team expert interview is being conducted, each participant will be taking notes. This wouldn’t be related to design thinking if it didn’t involve Post It Notes and Sharpies. Make sure each person has a small stack of them and a pen.
Hopefully inspired by what they are hearing at the table, each participant will write out one question per sticky note, starting with, “How might we…”. This phrase helps reframe problems and challenges as opportunities to make improvements.
An example of a good How Might We question is, “How might we make a hand dryer easier to use?” (It’s my blog and yes I am introducing a pet peeve here. Why on earth does the air from a hand dryer come out from a different location than where you need to hold your hands for it to turn on? Tangent: How about lasers?) The reason this phrasing works is that it suggests a happy future without presupposing the solution.
Generally you will wind up with five or six HMWs per person. 20 or 30 minutes is generally plenty of time for this. Nothing focuses the mind (or the team) like a deadline. Start with a 20 minute timer and if the feeling in the room is that there is much more to cover, extend it by another 10. Beyond that and you have diminishing returns, and less time to focus on the remainder of the sprint.
And now we see why sticky notes are the preferred tool for recording the How Might We notes, as we will be asking the team to put them up on a wall or whiteboard for all to see. Penmanship counts, people!
Now it’s time to categorize all the notes. As the facilitator you’ll be working with the team to organize their notes and then writing out new sticky notes as headings to the categories identified. It’s possible to overthink this step. The primarily goal is to ensure that every participant engages with all the How Might We ideas the team came up with.
Finally it’s time to vote. The participants are given small sticky dots to place on their favourite How Might We notes. The Design Sprint 2.0 way is to give the decider four dots and the remaining participants two dots each. The decider can pull the plug later anyway, so they are given greater influence up front. Depending on the culture in your team, you may want to be more egalitarian than this, but don’t forget that the goal is an idea to actually pursue, not have shelved because the ultimate decision rests with someone who views the end result as coming from out of left field.
A handy way to organize the How Might We notes after the voting is to place the highest voted ones at the top and then lower voted ones in successive rows below. What you typically end up with is a pyramid of notes with the team’s priorities clearly rising to the top.
In the next part of Design Sprint 2.0 we will begin the mapping process.
AJ&Smart is the agency promoting Design Sprint 2.0 and this video informed a lot of this post. It’s worth a watch. Pay attention because the ten second musical loop in the background changes near the end.
No it doesn’t – it’s mind numbing.
How might we make a hand dryer easier to use?
The sensor is here, the hot air is there
It can’t be just me that experiences this with the automatic hand dryers, soap dispensers and faucets: you stick your hands where the air, soap or water will be dispensed and nothing happens. You hunt around with your hands until what you want is dispensed, missing your hands completely.
You then take on an Inspector Clouseau countenance chasing the air, soap and water around.
So easy a cat could use it
Instead of using an optical sensor that “notices” your hands, why not use a laser bounced off the floor or counter. Break the beam (which you can see clearly) and the dispensing begins. It’s so easy a cat could use it!
But not Catherine Zeta Jones, who would carefully avoid the lasers.