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5 Key Benefits of Design Sprints

Our contributors:
Kayla Cartwright, Inaya Dsouza, Yi Jin, Benny Ko, Mamta Mehra, Fiona Royall, Jeffrey von Drehnen


What is a Design Sprint?

A Design Sprint rapidly answers critical business questions in a highly collaborative, 5-day workshop. We are looking at the key benefits of design sprints in this article.

Design Sprint vs Design Thinking

It’s important to understand the difference between design thinking and a design sprint. Simply put, Design Thinking (originating in the 50s and 60s) helps define the challenge or problem.   Design Sprints (originating only recently in the 2000’s) are the problem solving methodology.   In fact, the Design Sprint Methodology originated at Google in 2010.

Design Sprints allow organisations to consolidate the decision making and market research time, from months to a week.  They can allow organisations to save thousands of hours & dollars while ALSO adding value to the top line by driving the speed and quality of solutions.

Teams deliver viable business outcomes with reduced risk by designing, prototyping, and testing solutions with a customer-centric lens. Used correctly, design sprints find solutions to known, well-defined problems. They are not implementations of known solutions.

“Design sprints are an exciting and fun way to solve a problem with a customer-centric mindset. The advantage of a design sprint is the ability to generate a solution that has been customer tested within 5 days,” explains Benny Ko, a consultant in Melbourne.

In the five days of a Design Sprint, you will:

  1. Agree on the targeted problem
  2. Ideate solutions
  3. Decide and test ideas
  4. Pull together a minimum protype
  5. Test prototype and get user feedback
Cross-functional teams

Design Sprints are great if the team has a challenge that needs to be solved and no one single person holds the answer. They make an otherwise dry work process energetic and fun, by bringing people together to solve a challenge.

“A key benefit I’ve seen from design sprints is bringing that cross-functional team together,” says Fiona Royall, a senior consultant in Melbourne.  “Taking them out of their usual headspace for a week is invigorating, and being able to creatively collaborate, ideate and do focused work brings huge value,” she says.

Because of how they are structured, design sprints are perfect for ensuring a diversity of perspectives.  Jeffery von Drehnen, a senior consultant in Sydney says, “It really democratises the process, so every idea is heard, and people move through the decision-making process together. We all speak at the same volume when we use post-its!” The value of this is that it unlocks ideas and strengthens them through a diversity of views and experiences.

“The best feature of a design sprint is that it creates buy-in and ownership. There is no one telling you what to do. Together you make the choice on what needs to be solved, what information you need to make a decision and what the solution might look like. Together you test and refine,” says Jeffery.

This is a team outcome driven by team perspectives and decisions. This co-creation really drives engagement and makes people feel ownership over the work going forward.

Design sprints are always a success, if done right. Whether the idea is a winner or a flop, at least you know and you know within about a week. There’s no back and forth and months of indecision.

Kayla Cartwright, a project lead in our US team, says, “Design Sprints also make the ideas and their impacts on the user clear, and give organisations time and space to see if customers would use the solution. Or use the solution in the way it was intended. Doing customer testing quickly allows organisations to iterate and adjust course quickly. This enhances speed to market AND the quality of the offering in parallel.”

How does a Design Sprint fit with broader business methodologies?

ADAPTOVATE specialises in new ways of working, and we use agile principles to help develop many new transformations and implement business models in organisations. Teams that work in agile can use Design Sprints or carry forward using agile methods.

“Agile, with its focus on cross-functional teams, iterative delivery and regular feedback allows that momentum to continue and build upon the outcomes of the design sprint,” explains Fiona Royall.

Our design sprint facilitators are trained to help unearth assumptions. They push the team to ideate and iterate on solutions that they may have never even thought possible in their industry or context.


Summary – What are the 5 key benefits of Design Sprints?

  1. alignment between a group of executives on what is a good product and the right product for a disrupted and dynamic market which allows for fast tracking of the business case.

  2. Helps build innovation in a team, while delivering better products to market, faster than before (as fast as 4 days)

  3. Allows organisations to launch the right product with an aligned cross functional team and an approved business case in 1 week

  4. Design Sprints allow you to start prototyping quickly, and test your ideas with real users as fast as possible. They collect immediate user feedback, and make small mistakes early, thereby delivering the right products to market, ones that customers genuinely want and need.

  5. Design Sprints are not only fast but also cost effective. You do not commit time and budget to an initiative or go in a direction which may not be the right one should a prototype not resonate with customers in the first few days.

ADAPTOVATE facilitates Design Sprints for clients across industries and sectors, from leading financial institutions to global resource companies. We have proven experience coaching diverse teams to address a variety of complex business conditions. We use customer journey maps, functional models, user interviews, human-centered design principles, and more. Please reach out below for more.

Design Sprint Case Study


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