Design

7 Reasons Why We Begin Projects with a Design Sprint

New ideas — especially innovative ones — have a lot of unknowns and uncertainties at the start. Investing time, money, and resources on a new project can come with the pressure and anxiety of creating something incredible. Through the design sprint process, teams address the biggest and scariest uncertainties first, so you can achieve the business value with the least amount of investment.

Remember 2010? Apple released the first iPad, the world's tallest building opened in Dubai, and Lady Gaga wore her infamous meat dress. More relevantly, the design sprint was born by a team working out of Google Ventures.

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The initial brain child was drawn up by Jake Knapp as a tool to get away from inefficient meetings and sinuous product cycles. Design sprints cut away the vague approach to innovating and give structure to solving any problem. The condensed process brings out the best contributions of everyone on the team and helps you spend your time on work that really matters.

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The design sprint methodology has gained popularity among thousands of businesses and startups to solve difficult problems. Here's seven reasons why you should start your project with a design sprint.

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Why your product team should consider a design sprint

1. De-risk initiatives

New ideas — especially innovative ones — have a lot of unknowns and uncertainties at the start. Investing time, money, and resources on a new project can come with the pressure and anxiety of creating something incredible. Through the design sprint process, teams address the biggest and scariest uncertainties first, so you can achieve the business value with the least amount of investment.

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This agile approach puts user research and product-market fit at the forefront to deliver hiccups early and often. This helps alleviate the effect of the sunk cost fallacy, known for leading teams down rabbit holes they can't admit are wrong because of the time and money they've invested. By quickly raising red flags, teams can adapt a new product direction.

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2. Discovery mindset

Design sprints use engaging exercises to identify the core challenges, map out the problem, and test the solutions with real users. This structure is just enough to guide the team through the time-constrained sequence, while fostering creativity in every individual to explore a wide range of ideas. Tapping into the discovery mindset opens up endless possibilities to overcome barriers to innovation, ultimately building the best product for the end user.

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3. Build trust

The intense, full-day experience of collaborating towards a shared goal creates bonds of trust. Taking part in the process and understanding the why behind decisions improves communication, alleviates many challenges in development, and fosters real conversations around the roadmap and strategy beyond the design sprint.

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4. Entrepreneurial focus

Teams struggle with capturing the full attention of each member on a single problem. Running a design sprint demands total focus of teams for a set amount of time to find solutions. We’ve found that magic happens when creative people are concentrated, leading to ideas that may not otherwise make their way into the design. The undivided attention also encourages building upon ideas to elevate the design.

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5. Set time frame

Design sprints provide a structured time frame for the project. Typically, a design sprint lasts five days, with each day having a specific focus and set of tasks. This time frame helps teams focus and achieve a common goal within a specific timeline. By having a clear deadline, it also helps prevent scope creep and ensures the team stays on track towards achieving the objectives.

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6. Versatility

Design sprints can be used in various contexts, not just for product development. They can be used for developing marketing strategies, improving internal processes, or even testing business ideas. The versatile nature of design sprints makes them a useful tool for any team looking to tackle complex challenges and innovate.

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7. Next steps

At the end of a design sprint, teams have tackled hard questions and found alignment around a strategic solution. With a high-fidelity prototype of a new or improved technology, already tested with end-users, teams have a clear picture of the product roadmap. Using the momentum from the design sprint, teams can define the next steps, allocate resources, and assign tasks to iterate upon the insights that were gained.

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Your innovation partner

At Differential, we deliver product strategy, design, and software development solutions that make real impact. We’ve partnered with brands such as Big Ass Fans, Proctor & Gamble, Lexmark, TaylorMade, and Whirpool to build and launch new digital products and serve as their outsourced digital-innovation team to test new ideas. Reach out today to unlock value for your team.

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