Tackling the Google Ventures Design Sprint

In August 2013 the Decoder team attended GROW, Canada’s largest startup and technology conference. One of the notable presentations was from Google Ventures’ Jay Knapp describing the Google “Product Design Sprint”.

The design sprint offered an innovative way to create a rapid prototype in five days. Knapp outlined the five days of the “sprint” and specific daily activities designed to make quick, effective decisions and allow the best ideas to rise to the top.

The “five-day recipe” is outlined as:

Before the sprint: Prepare 
Get the people and things you need.

Day 1: Understand 
Dig into the design problem through research, competitive review, and strategy exercises.

Day 2: Diverge 
Rapidly develop as many solutions as possible.

Day 3: Decide 
Choose the best ideas and hammer out a user story.

Day 4: Prototype 
Build something quick and dirty that can be shown to users.

Day 5: Validate 
Show the prototype to real humans (in other words, people outside your company) and learn what works and what doesn’t work.

As a company familiar with pitching and validating ideas, the process resonated with us. We saw this as a potential method for developing products and brands for our clients as well as developing and validating our own internal startups. (Our core agencies Uppercut and Decoder develop solutions for clients, while we also devote a portion of our time to internal projects like Fairgoods and Pop Quiz Show) We had already been exploring creating rapid prototypes and were keen to explore more effective ways of working. We decided to test the sprint out with a concept for a PR product being developed by Uppercut Senior Writer Anders Svensson.

We formed a team of eight developers, designers, project managers, business analyst, writers, and executives from Decoder and Uppercut. We focused on creating a balanced team including members not yet familiar with the product concept.

We aimed to stay as true to the Google process as possible, but some changes to the process were predetermined. Due to the need to complete client work we shortened the time period from 8 hours a day to 2-4 hours per day.

In preparation for our sprint we booked a meeting room for five days and made a shopping trip for the following items:

-3x5 post-it notes ($11)

-Coloured voting stickers ($4)

-Markers and pens for all 8 members ($4)

-Sticky tac for placing mockups on wall ($2)

-8.5x11 printer paper ($8)

-Whiteboard markets ($12)

-Keynote licenses for all members ($20/license)

-Keynotopia asset pack for wireframes ($100)

-Snacks, energy bars, and chocolate ($25)

-Apple TV to display screens (a projector would also work) ($100)

Well-prepared and well-researched on the design sprint process, we were excited to begin but unsure of what to expect. Stay tuned for our next blog post on day one of our design sprint.

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