Purpose-driven brand building.


How about a design sprint?


The clock is ticking. And you’re stuck. You know something isn’t working, but you don’t know how to tackle it. Even worse, your team doesn’t agree on the underlying issue. Whether it’s an existing product or an initiative that you just can’t get off the ground, the impact can be significant. Conversion drop-offs, audience apathy, a decaying brand—these things can’t wait.


What to do? You could hand it off to an outside agency and hope for the best. That’ll mean meetings and presentations and more meetings. Consensus will be near impossible. Good luck with momentum. A plan will slowly emerge.

A Design Sprint cuts through all that. Sprints are often associated with the build cycle within Agile Web Development. This isn’t that. A Design Sprint is an immersive 5-day workshop targeted at quickly agreeing on a goal, prototyping a solution and soliciting focus group feedback. It sounds quick and it is. It’s also a well-structured series of activities focused on results.

In the book Sprint, Jake Knapp walks through the process that he and his colleagues at Google Ventures have dialed in from hundreds of workshops with their continually expanding roster of start-ups. The book provides a day-by-day, hour-by-hour breakdown of a Design Sprint along with real-world examples of everything from using “How might we … ?” statements to ensure that you’re tackling the right challenge to using Craigslist to recruit for focus groups.


Team dynamics play a major role in the week-long workshop. Your Design Sprint should include a consistent group of six to seven people. One person will be the Decider. This person should be the internal project owner. She will have the final say on decisions made throughout the week and will ultimately own adopting the outcome of the sprint. Another person will be the Facilitator. This should be an out-of-house consultant that maintains a neutral point of view while teasing out information and leading the team through the series of activities. The remainder of the team should be made of internal subject matter experts that have insights specific to the sprint’s focus.

Already have another approach in mind? Consider these key concepts for any workshop scenario.

Brainstorming is overrated.

Brainstorming only works for the loudest voice in the room. Consider the notion of “working together but independently” instead. Each participant is given room to think, sketch and share.

Technology often gets in the way.

Design Sprints are a device-free zone. Don’t let quick texts and constant email monitoring get in the way of your shared time together.

We all get hungry.

Ever decide to power through lunch? Don’t. Take snack breaks. Stay hydrated. If one person starts to crash, it can bring the whole team down.

A Design Sprint won't solve all of your problems but it will provide actionable insights for the path forward. What might seem like an impossible time commitment will be invaluable to getting your team on the same page in short order.

Ready to discuss how we might tackle your current communications challenge? Let’s chat.

James Early