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Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days Hardcover – March 8, 2016
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“Every business leader I know worries about the same thing: Are we moving fast enough? The genius of Jake Knapp’s Sprint is its step-by-step breakdown of what it takes to solve big problems and do work that matters with speed and urgency. A sprint is a cure for what ails companies in an ever faster world.”
—Beth Comstock, vice chair of GE
"The key to success, often, is building the right habits. But which habits work best? Sprint offers powerful methods for hatching ideas, solving problems, testing solutions—and finding those small, correct habits that make all the right behaviors fall in place."
– Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit
"To quote one of my colleagues, “don’t get ready, get started”. Through hard won experience Jake Knapp and the team at Google Ventures have refined an efficient, hands-on approach to solving your product, service and experience design challenges. Try the book and try a Sprint."
– Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO and author of Change By Design
"Read this book and do what it says if you want to build better products faster."
– Ev Williams, founder of Medium, Blogger, and Twitter
"Sprint teaches you a novel process for solving really thorny problems in just 5 days. It's full of helpful, entertaining stories that will make it easier for you to succeed. What more, exactly, would you demand from a book? I wish all business books were this useful."
– Dan Heath, co-author of Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive
About the Author
Jake Knapp created the Google Ventures sprint process and has run more than a hundred sprints with startups such as 23andme, Slack, Nest, and Foundation Medicine. Previously, Jake worked at Google, leading sprints for everything from Gmail to Google X. He is currently among the world’s tallest designers.
John Zeratsky has designed mobile apps, medical reports, and a daily newspaper (among other things). Before joining Google Ventures, he was a design lead at YouTube and an early employee of FeedBurner, which Google acquired in 2007. John writes about design and productivity for Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Wired. He studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin.
Braden Kowitz founded the Google Ventures design team in 2009 and pioneered the role of “design partner” at a venture capital firm. He has advised close to two hundred startups on product design, hiring, and team culture. Before joining Google Ventures, Braden led design for several Google products, including Gmail, Google Apps for Business, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Trends.
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In the preface, the author states he had his first child. When he returned to the office, he wanted his time on the job to be as meaningful as his time with his family. He took a hard look at his habits and saw that, "I wasn’t spending my effort on the most important work". He discussed how improving team processes became an obsession for him. Through his experience of working with teams to create new products at Google, and experimenting on improving the way teams work, he found that focusing on individual work, having time to prototype, and an inescapable deadline produced far better results.
Running the 5 day sprint described in the book enables a team to easily find out if they are on the right track before they commit to the risky business of building and launching their products. The sprint process however is just as applicable to teams launching internal products/solutions/services. This way of work is applicable to any company, not just startups.
The author shares how other Google Ventures team members added to the sprint process to make it better through the years. Braden Kowitz added story-centered design – which focuses on the whole customer experience instead of individual components or technologies. John Zeratsky helped to ensure that each sprint starts at the end, so the business's would be able to identify and answer their most important questions. Michael Margolis encouraged them to finish each sprint with a real world test. By putting your prototype in front of real customers/prospects, you didn't have to guess whether your solutions were good, at the end of the sprint you got answers.
Over the last 10 years, I have facilitated interactive workshops to help teams get a shared understanding of the business problem they are trying to solve, which is a precursor to a shared commitment to solve the problem. Having a solid understanding of the research behind collaborative approaches to work, and understanding the approach to use based on the problem domain you are in is critical to a successful outcome. Because of my background and real-world experience, I recognize how effective the sprint design is, and feel confident in using the process with any client I work with. The psychology behind the methods is real, the creativity of the design will engage all who participate, and you will build better products.
If you are passionate about helping teams work more effectively, if you care about making work a more engaging experience, if you have a burning desire to improve customers' lives, read this book and then USE this book to run sprints.
I'm going to use the Sprint checklists every time I run a workshop from now on.
This book is notable for the things it leaves out of the design process.
An example is brainstorming. At one point in history, every collaborative design activity had to involve brainstorming Jake and team actually discourage spending time brainstorming in Sprint. After some reflection, I'm starting to see the wisdom of leaving it out.
This doesn't mean they discourage creative or divergent thinking, only that classic brainstorming as a group can create unwanted digressions.
Another Design collaboration staple Jake leaves on the cutting room floor is creating exhaustive documentation and analysis of every step in the Design Sprint process. He promotes focusing the documentation work on the product prototypes, and user feedback which is very wise advice.
If you want to try running a Design Sprint I strongly recommend you do 2 things:
1. Read the The Design Sprint -- GV - Google Ventures [...] site thoroughly as well as
Michael Margolis -- Medium
[...] articles as there are a lot of IU important and helpful hints in there, E.g. Use Gotomeeting to stream and record the interviews on Friday and get the camera Michael recommends.
2. Make sure at least 2 of you read the entire book, ideally everyone should read it. The Sprint is a great process (I've used many and this is definitely one of the best) but there are many important steps day by day and it's hard for one person to stay on top of all of them.
Good luck, if you stick to the process I think you will have success.
It's a very detailed, practical guide and I just went for it and followed all the instructions in detail (down to buying the office supplies) - it gets you from big picture thinking to testing your ideas in a week. I found each person in our group seemed to excel at a different part of it: Introverts and Extroverts, techies and non techies. The hardest part was convincing people to spend five days in a meeting, but I found their timetable pretty generous -- we finished early some days. We found Monday the most meeting-heavy day so one tip might be to let the team know that it won't be as intensive after that. Some might be worried they'd be in for five full days of intense discussion -- they aren't.