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  • Writer's pictureLonneke Boonzaaijer

Why the classic 5 day Google ‘Design Sprint’ is not applicable to every company

Updated: Mar 6, 2019

(*And how to pick 1 of the 5 new Sprint programs that will work for your company)

Design Sprints evolved!

The last 1.5 years I have fully dedicated my professional life to facilitating Design Sprints, as developed by Google Ventures and described in their book; ‘Sprint’. 

With much excitement and pleasure I am now looking back on an amazing period in my life, where we have had such great weeks, creating new business propositions, concepts and validated -and tested assumptions with the coolest prototypes. 

However, it has also been a great learning curve during this time as I have found out that it is rarely a ‘one-size-fits-all’ process or program. There are so many different kinds of companies, who are all in their own phase of development or digital transformation. This therefore always asks for a personal approach on how to help companies best with a custom program, to get the most value for them out of the 5 day sprint week we have. (Or sometimes even less). 

Due to the experiences I’ve had, I have distinguished 4 variations on the classic Design Sprint program and have created 4 different Design Sprint programs, applicable to the specific situation and phase a company is in; 

1. The validation sprint

'Already created solutions in search of a problem and customer segment'

This happens when companies know pretty sure what they want to create and develop, but ‘just need to create it in a sprint’ to come up with a fast prototype. In most cases it is at that point not clear what the actual problem is we’re going to solve and for which specific customer segment, but it is mainly focused on the companies ambitions and goals. There is nothing wrong with that, but it creates an unnecessary potential risk for failure, since the actual user, client or customer, has not been involved in the process. Therefore a validation phase is included in the program to determine how this new proposition is actually going to help customers and pin-point the product-market fit and business model. Elements or the Lean Startup methodology are integrated in this sprint program, to make sure we create something based on the customer needs and problems they experience, but also fits the company ambitions. 

2. The strategy sprint

‘Internal or external challenge on how to execute strategy & future vision’ 

In this sprint we focus on the future product proposition, company strategy, target group, communication and the story that is appealing to the user, or employee. This can be for internal company use when rolling out a company wide strategy for international (large) corporates for example, or when entering a new market in unchartered territories. Elements of the methodology of Alexander Osterwalder and the business model canvas are used in this sprint. 

3. The campaign & branding sprint

‘Sales and traction focused with a commercial challenge’ 

This is a sprint for companies who are already in the phase where they have figured out their new business proposition, tested and validated the prototype or MVP, target group, and are now in the phase to attract the user to their new product or service. The entire sprint is focussed on creating a creative (viral) branding campaign, in order to reach the highest success and conversion when launching their new product or service online (or offline). 

4. The circular economy sprint

‘Focused on reinventing the entire cycle of chain partners in order to create a 100% circular process'

As the word already says; circular, it might be obvious that a linear map for example won’t work in this sprint. Circular sprints are focused on zooming in on the entire cycle of the operational business and chain partners that are involved. It is focused on how to involve, recreate or eliminate links in the entire chain to innovate the process in order to create a circular chain and thereby innovate the industry from the inside out. 

5. The classic design sprint

The classic design sprint, in my opinion, fits only to companies who are in a specific situation who tick the following boxes; 

1. They have validated a specific market problem without a current good fit. 

2. They have a good understanding of their customers and their needs & wants. 

3. They are willing to listen to their customers and have an open mind to the solution or prototype that will come out of the sprint.

4. They are willing to follow up on the learnings and insights that come out of the sprint to iterate and evolve further on. 

Furthermore, due to stressed personal business schedules within organizations, all formats have a 3 -or 5 day program that we offer. 

As I am a strong believer in the power of visualization I have made a decision tree to make it easier to determine which sprint format fits your company best: 

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