Design sprints were conceptualized by Jake Knapp of Google Ventures, who guided such companies as Uber and Slack to global success. The concept is a framework that combines the best approaches within design thinking. Design sprints have continued in the meantime to be carried out with much success world-wide.
The biggest advantage is obvious: After only five days you have a design at hand that has already been customer tested. As such, the method is more efficient, faster and cheaper than the old-school approach. Moreover, there are multiple, positive side effects. Because the team so intensively grapples with the design requirements and collectively develops a solution, the energy and motivation for the implementation are significantly greater than in normally carried out projects. Decisions are made more quickly and since the development of the solution takes place in large part without the use of an computer or smartphone (detox!), the participants can concentrate fully on the solving the problem. This totally new experience binds the team together.
From the very beginning of the design sprint, the users, the contracting party and the technical professionals are all equally involved. First, the given situtation is analysed and all the participants contribute to a acquiring a clear, collective understanding. Subsequently, alternative solutions are individually worked out but in a collective setting. Moreover, throughout the process, any necessary decision-making is done swiftly.
During the first two to three days (depending upon the duration of the sprint) you, as project sponsor, are intensely involved. The team that will carry out the sprint is assembled collaboratively by you and us. The determination of who (representing the contracting party) fulfills the role of decision maker is especially important as it requires unwavering confidence. Once the team is established, since the initial phase of the sprint involves crystallizing the problem to be solved, it is necessary that each team participant receives all of the needed information and that all share the same understanding of it. To that end, user journeys are chronicled, problems discussed, reflected upon and evaluated. And the end of this phase, the team knows exactly how to begin its approach to solving the problem.
By this time, the team understands the context and problem that needs to be solved. Ideas are produced and sketched out. Everyone works in the same physical space, but individually. After a deliberately planned break, through which the participants acquire some objective distance from their own ideas, the suggestions are evaluated. Now there is decision to be made.
Once is decided upon which idea (indeed, occasionally more than one) will be carried forth, the UX specialists withdraw and prepare a prototype. The team has the opportunity once more to provide feedback before, in the last phase, testing by users to validate the idea takes place.