How To Develop and Test New Ideas (Google Inspired Design Sprint Process)
Read time: 6 minutes
Holiday breaks are energizing.
But returning to work can result in a lull of energy, enthusiasm, and activity.
To counter the lull, I like to run a creative workshop to boost team energy.
Google's design sprint process inspires the workshop I’m sharing today.
It's a fun and fast way for teams to develop new ideas, prototype and test them.
Plus, it’s great for your team to work together creatively and efficiently.
This rapid prototyping technique is based on the Sprint book by Google—kudos to Jake Knapp and the team at Google Ventures for creating it.
I recommend getting the book if you want more detailed information on any sections.
Introduction - Setting the challenge
Before starting this process, ensure you clearly understand the challenge you want to solve.
The full Sprint process usually takes 5 days to complete. I've redesigned it to be more flexible.
There are 6 sections in the sprint process, each with a percentage of time assigned.
Whether you have 1 day or 5 days for the sprint, try to divide your time according to these percentages:
Here’s a table to help you with the timings:
Total Sprint Time →
I recommend going with at least the 1 Day version of this process. Anything less is a rush.
Get yourself a quiet open space to work that’s free of distractions.
Step 1 - Map
Step 1 is about creating a Map visually representing what you're trying to change or improve.
It could be a user experience, a new product or service.
Use a big wall or whiteboard and write a brief using these prompt questions:
Then, come up with some questions you’d like answers to. This adds detail to the brief and goal:
Finally, map out how your team currently tackles the challenge you're working on.
Start with the challenge on the left and move towards the goal on the right. Use post-its, boxes, and arrows to bring it to life.
Step 2 - Deepening
Step 2 is where you Deepen your understanding of the challenge by talking with some experts.
Make sure you get a mix of people with different perspectives.
Spend about 30 minutes with each expert.
Ask them to give their take on your mission for 10-15 minutes.
Then spend 10-15 minutes asking them questions.
When writing down their ideas, use "How might we...?" questions and write one on each Post-it note.
After you've talked to your experts, stick all the Post-it notes on a wall. Group the notes into categories.
Now decide which part of your project to focus on for your prototype.
You might decide to make a prototype for the whole project or just a part.
But ensure you know what you're focussed on before moving to Step 3.
Step 3 - Sketching
Step 3 involves each person Sketching out potential solutions.
This is where the fun starts, and the group comes alive.
Before you start sketching, spend a few minutes as a group discussing examples of other products or services that solve your challenge well.
Write them up on your wall as they’re discussed.
Now it’s time for sketching.
Each person should grab a pen and block of paper (A4 size) and start drawing solutions referring to everything you’ve captured so far on the wall in the previous steps.
Everyone should develop 6-10 ideas with as much detail as possible.
Make them self-explanatory so they can be understood if you’re not there to explain them.
Put them up on the wall for the next step.
Step 4 - Decision & Storyboard
Step 4 is Decision time, when your team picks their favourite to take through to the prototype phase.
Ask your team to look at the solutions on the wall. If they have questions, they can add Post-it notes underneath.
Each person then answers the clarification questions for their solutions so all understand every solution.
To decide which idea to take forward, give each team member 5 sticky dots to place on their favourite ideas.
The idea with the most dots wins.
Turn the winning idea into a Storyboard by sticking 10-15 A4 pieces of paper on the wall and map out the solution in detail.
Storyboarding is about bringing everyone behind the solution so they each feel ownership so make sure all play a role here.
Step 5 - Prototype
Step 5 is about bringing your solution to life with a Prototype.
This process phase aims to have something concrete you can show people so they can give you feedback.
So, for example:
Step 6 - Test
Step 6 is about Testing your prototype with real people from inside and outside the company so you can get real, detailed, unbiased feedback.
I’ve found using a new meeting room works best for this.
Bring people in one at a time and spend approx 15 minutes showing them your solution. Allow them to play and experience it and ask open questions like:
Step 7 - Evaluate
Finish the sprint process with a comprehensive Evaluation.
Collate the notes from the testing phase and note down patterns and insights.
Ask yourselves these questions:
Well, there you have it. My favourite workshop process for injecting energy, excitement and creativity into any team.
Using this sprint process, I never have to spend hours scratching my head to develop an end-to-end creative prototyping workshop.
Instead, all the work has been done for me. Thanks Google!
Give it a shot and see what amazing ideas your team comes up with.
Let me know your results.
Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you: