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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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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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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.
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What usually takes months and months of hopeless meetings, emails and expenditure has been narrowed down to just 5 days of intensive work by all the KEY parties. Emphasis has been put on 'key' parties as most often businesses approach to answer their biggest questions with just 2 or 3 people from the top management involved.
I like how they advise startups to focus on most pressing questions. I can see how many founders and deciders can get lost in a web of questions during startup. They recommend an ideal size of the sprint to be seven people or less, I couldn't have agreed more. And this is only one of the many ingenious tips I liked. Another one is the 'no device rule'.
I've always been a fan of whiteboards but these guys have taken the idea to another level. I quote: " the simultaneous visibility of project material helps us identify patterns and encourages creative synthesis to occur more readily than when these resources are hidden away in file folders, notebooks, or PowerPoint decks."
Another key insight I got from the book is the reminder that 'nobody knows everything'. I can imagine many CEOs thinking this way due to hubris. I quote: "..the information is distributed asymmetrically across the team and across the company. In the sprint, you've got to gather it and make sense of it, and asking experts is the best and fastest way to do that."
The 'How might we' method was also a great light-bulb. Rephrasing business obstacles into helpful questions. Another helpful method is the 'lightning demos which involves finding inspirational ideas from both within your company and even outside your industry. I could imagine limiting myself to my competitors only, but stretching as far as other businesses who do nothing remotely similar is a revelation.
Another ingenious solution suggested by the authors is the 'mind reader' - a sketch of complex ideas as a simple drawing of boxes and text. This then forms a basis for a prototype.They emphasize on the quality of the solution as opposed to the artistry of the drawings - they really do give hope to people like us who wouldn't know what do with a brush :) They further elaborate on the usefulness of sketching, I quote, "once your ideas become concrete, they can be critically and fairly evaluated by the rest of the team - without any sales pitch. And perhaps, most important of all, sketching allows every person to develop those concrete ideas while working alone."
Crazy 8s is another brilliant idea introduced by the team. An 8 minute exercise of sketching 8 variations of your strongest ideas. I found it quite unconventional, and hence my belief that it will work. Basically the exercise helps you consider alternatives and also serves as an excellent warm up for the main event.
I found the 'prototype mindset' to be the best idea in the whole book. The authors suggest building a facade and testing it, this initially sounded uncomfortable to me, but I later saw the genius in it. I quote, "To prototype your solution, you'll need a temporary change of philosophy: from perfect to just enough, from long-term quality to temporary simulation." I can see how this idea can save a huge amount of time and money for a company down the line.
In the end the authors emphasize the best part about the sprint, which is the chance to learn whether you are on the right track with your ideas in just 5 days. "You can have efficient failures that are good news, flawed successes that need more work, and many other outcomes." I couldn't agree more.
The choice of examples used in the book was also great, not exactly Malcolm Gladwell level, but still inspiring nonetheless.
I recommend the book to Startup founders, top company management or any one looking for unconventional methods to improve productivity on any sphere of their lives.
Read this book!
If you've been following the GV website's articles about the sprint process, the book goes fills in all the gaps. The accompanying Facilitator Notes at the end of some chapters also go into further detail so you can develop an understanding that will allow your first sprints to run successfully.
It provides a comprehensive guide for running a sprint, accompanied by very vivid examples from well known startups.
Lots of useful tips, FAQs and checklists make it useful in running a sprint on your own, which I hope to do sometime soon.