The Design Sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. You take a small team, clear the schedule for a week, and rapidly progress from problem to tested solution using a proven step-by-step checklist—available in the doc below!
Working together in a sprint, you can shortcut the endless-debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week. Instead of launching a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, you’ll get clear data from a realistic prototype.
We think the Design Sprint gives you a superpower: You can fast-forward into the future and see how customers react before you invest all the time and expense of creating your new product, service, marketing campaign... or whatever!
But the Design Sprint is not just about efficiency. It's also an excellent way to stop the old defaults of office work and replace them with a smarter, more respectful, and more effective way of solving problems that brings out the best contributions of everyone on the team and helps you spend your time on work that really matters.
Originally created by
at Google, the Design Sprint was developed and refined by our team at GV, where we used sprints to help hundreds of startups solve problems and test new ideas. We ran sprints with companies like Slack, HubSpot, Blue Bottle Coffee, One Medical Group, Flatiron Health, and Gusto.
In 2016, we published
, the official step-by-step guide to running a Design Sprint. Since then, the method has been embraced by thousands of teams around the world, at organizations including Facebook, Pinterest, The United Nations, LEGO, and The New York Times.
Today, we use Design Sprints to help startups find and expand product-market fit at our VC firm
. And we work with a global network of Sprint Pros who run Design Sprints with all kinds of organizations. But at heart, the Design Sprint remains a DIY method. It’s not about us — it’s about empowering your team to quickly answer questions and move forward with confidence.
You can use this interactive doc as a guide and toolkit while running your sprint.
The Right Time to Run a Sprint
As a method for validating solutions and aligning your team, the Design Sprint works best when the stakes are high and the road is long. Small opportunities and quick fixes don't require new ways of working—you can just do them (or not) and move on.
But when you're faced with a big opportunity or problem, and you know the solution will take weeks or months to execute, that's the right time to run a sprint. And most importantly, when the stakes are high (and you don't know whether a risky bet is going to pay off) a Design Sprint can stack the deck in your favor.
We've used sprints to help teams working on:
Expansion into new markets
Run a Design Sprint in This Doc
If you want to run a Design Sprint with your team, this doc can help — it's a step-by-step interactive guide that enables you to learn the process and do the work all in one place. If you want to learn more, check out
The Design Sprint, Day by Day
On Monday, you make a map of the problem. On Tuesday, you sketch solutions. On Wednesday, you decide which sketches are strongest. On Thursday, you build a realistic prototype. And on Friday, you test that prototype with five target customers.
Continue reading for day-by-day instructions and tools.👇
Before the sprint begins, you've got to do some prep work. You need to have a big important challenge—something that's worth five days of focused work. You need to recruit a team with diverse skills. And, of course, you need to find the right room and get the right materials.
Monday is a series of structured conversations to build a foundation—and a focus—for the sprint week. The structure allows the team to "boot up" as much information as quickly as possible—while preventing the usual meandering conversations.
In the morning, you’ll define key questions and a long-term goal. Next, you’ll make a simple map of your product or service. In the afternoon, you’ll ask the experts on your team to share what they know. Finally, you’ll pick a target: the moment on the map that represents the greatest risk and/or opportunity.
Tuesday is all about solving the problem, using a method optimized for deep thinking. Instead of a typical group brainstorm, every individual will sketch their own detailed, opinionated solutions, following a four-step process that emphasizes critical thinking over artistry.
By Wednesday morning, you and your team will have a stack of solutions. Now, you have to decide which of those sketches should be prototyped and tested.
Instead of an endless debate or a watered-down group decision nobody's happy with, you'll use the four-step "Sticky Decision" method to identify the best solutions before turning the final decision over to your Decider. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take the winning scenes from your sketches and combine them into a
: a step-by-step plan for your prototype.
On Thursday, you'll build a realistic prototype of the solutions in your storyboard so you can simulate a finished product for your customers. Design Sprint prototyping is all about a "fake it till you make it" philosophy: With a realistic-looking prototype, you'll get the best possible data from Friday's test, and you'll learn whether you're on the right track.
It's time to put that prototype to the test! On Friday, you'll show your prototype to five customers in five separate, 1:1 interviews. Instead of waiting for a launch to get perfect data, you'll quick-and-dirty answers to your most pressing questions right away.
Want help from an expert sprint facilitator? We may be able to help.
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