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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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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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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.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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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.
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.
The Sprint book is easy read and could be dealt with as a story. The format of Sprint moving through the working week creates atmosphere that I was hearing Jake(the main author) telling me a story. Watching some videos on YouTube for Jake helped me better understand the book. As they say, our writing is kind of reflection of who we are beyond the subject of the book.
While it is simple read, the underlying concepts have roots in Human Centered Design, Anthropology, Prototyping, UX, Innovation, App Design, Software Development, Agile Management, ….. The book stitches these concepts in a simple 5 days intuitive road-map for any organization that wants to solve big challenge in 5 days. No bluff, no extended plans, not procrastination, no top-down solutions, and no naysayers. By solving a challenge, I mean ‘learning’ what to do about it.
Design Sprint is about learning what we need to do about the challenge. The bigger the challenge the higher the applicability of Design Sprint and the bigger the reward can be.
I am familiar with Human Centered Design from IDEO. For me Design Sprint cuts to the chase if we want to apply the whole Design Thinking process in a week. There could be follow-up after the Sprint to iterate on the feedback from users on Friday, but that followup will be shorter. In days , it is like 5+3+2; 5 days for the first Sprint. And every segment has definitive outcomes that provides concrete learning to the organization.
Having key stakeholders in the Design Sprint team, would help having timely feedback and decisions on the progress of the Sprint. Meaning, those stakeholders will bring us to the reality about the aspects of the business applicability of the solution. For me this reduces the risk of implementing a solution which despite of being desirable by users, is non-implementable due technical feasibility or business sustainability.
The book includes examples of companies from diverse industries including healthcare, software development, hotels, coffee-shops, and fitness. I am more comfortable applying Sprint process to design services that primarily utilize digital solutions. However, the author mentioned he implemented the same process for designing non-digital solutions. Again, this is a Design Thinking mentality where we start from complete uncertainty about what we need to do and go through a discovery process for learning about the context and what probably can work. What probably works is based on user testing of a facade solution (prototype).
Sprint book is complete and can be the main source for anyone who wants to facilitate Design Sprint, like me:) Like any other process, learning can happen only through practicing using the right process. and mindset. Based on the lessons learned from tens of Sprints the author facilitated, I believe this book can be valuable for team facilitators.
It is about time for organizations to be transparent about their challenges and empower their employees to help ‘learning’ about what to do regarding them. Historically, organizations provide top-down solutions without engaging the right people who understand the complexity of the existing situation. Meaningful learning can be done in 5 days using the Sprint process detailed in this book and with the right skill-mix of team members. Design Sprint can be incorporated as habitual process for ‘learning’ about challenges and designing solutions/services using Design Thinking mentality. It is all in one week!
Similar to Design Thinking and Learn Startup which focus on learning, Design Sprint aims to reduce the risk of having wrong a product/ solution. Although customer usage of solutions is the final judge, Design Sprint can reduce the risk of developing the wrong feature in the first place. In Agile language, before adding a feature into the product backlog, we need to ensure first that it was tested earlier with the target audience using tangible prototype rather than words. Design Sprint can enable that!