A Design Sprint is a five-phase framework, based on the principles of Design Thinking, that helps you solve problems through rapid prototyping and user testing.

Design Thinking is a people-first approach methodology, used to address complex and ambiguous problems. One of the main challenges in problem-solving is time. Luckily, Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz, from Google Ventures, came up with the idea to combine the methods and principles of Design Thinking into a five-day alert session called Design Sprint.

Why run a Design Sprint

  1. Pushes teams to move past the first idea and encourages a thorough selection of the best ideas;
  2. Speeds up decision making;
  3. Allows users to focus on the most pressing problems. Because it’s highly visual, it’s easier to see what the priorities are;
  4. It's a democratic process. Teams work on the ideas they like and believe in, even if they still have to be approved by the Product Owner;
  5. Instrumental when the stakes are high, and it’s expensive to test. The risk of trying new ideas is low. A potential failure can only cost you five days of work.
Design Sprint Opinno

What you need, according to the Sprint book

  • Whiteboard, sticky notes, markers;
  • A team of five to seven people and a decider (usually the CEO or the Product Owner);
  • Five days of full-time work;
  • Five people to test the prototype.

How it works

On Monday, you start by mapping the operations: what you want to achieve and how to get there. Get this map validated by an expert. Then think about it in perspective. Say your idea fails, in one year you look back and understand why it failed. Transform those answers into “how might we?” questions. Write them down and share them with your team.

Your team goes through all the questions and votes silently (to prevent groupthink). The most popular ideas are placed back on the map.

On Tuesday, team members give three-minute pitches on potential solutions (present the "how might we" questions that have been selected on Monday). The next step is idea sketching. Each participant receives four pieces of paper to first sketch the most promising ideas, then uniquely combine these ideas and finally create eight sketches. In one minute each team member has to create a storyboard with three stages needed for an idea to take shape.

Wednesday. Team members select the best sketches (the ideas most likely to take shape) in a quick decision-making session. It is up to the Decider to pick three solutions and a script (a step-by-step explanation of how to create the solutions) that go to the next stage.

Thursday is dedicated to prototyping. Don’t worry about your drawing skills, as long as you can get the point across.

On Friday, interview five people about the prototype. Find out what they think and how they feel about your product. Ask open-ended questions. Note down everything and find out as much as you can about their experience with the product. After the interview session, review your long-term goal. Did you find a solution to your problem? Can you put in practice? If not, try again.


Treat everything as a prototype, an open-ended problem, constantly evolving and needing new solutions. 

Find more resources about how to organize a Design Sprint here.

If you want to find out how Design thinking can help your company, read our article here.