Swing for the Damn Fences: The Design Sprint

We are in the home run business. Incremental features might eat up most of your time, but you need to be swinging for the fences! Tweet This!

You need to be taking risks on crazy ideas. And you need to be doing it often.

Anyone who understands baseball knows that home run hitters strike out a lot. It is just a part of baseball…and it’s a part of new product and feature development. So to make sure you are hitting home runs every year, you need a lot of at bats. And there is only one way to get more at bats…rapid prototype testing.

The Solution:

Our good friends at Google have given us a great solution for rapid prototype testing…the Design Sprint. What’s a Design Sprint? It is a 1-week sprint that helps you swing for the fences. Tweet this.

You can read more about it here, but here is an overview:

  • MONDAY: UNPACK On the first day of the sprint, your team will “unpack” everything they know. Expertise and knowledge on most teams is asymmetrical: Sales knows things engineering doesn’t, customer support knows things design doesn’t, and so on.
  • TUESDAY: SKETCH During Sketch day, your team will work individually to draw detailed solutions on paper. After sketching, you’ll use a structured critique and weighted voting to select the best ideas from the field of possibilities.
  • WEDNESDAY: DECIDE By Wednesday, you’ll have over a dozen solutions to choose from. That’s great, but it’s also a problem, because you can’t prototype and test a dozen solutions. You’ll have to narrow down and make tough decisions.
  • THURSDAY: PROTOTYPE You’ll spend Thursday in the flow, being ridiculously productive. We show you our systematic plan for doing the impossible: build an entire realistic-looking prototype in just eight hours.
  • FRIDAY: TEST On Friday, you’ll show your prototype to real customers. By the end of the day, your ideas have all been exposed to oxygen — some will be smash hits, while others will meet an early end.

A combination of rapid prototyping tools and Validately make this tactic very easy to execute. You just need to allocate the time.

Common Objection:

I can already hear some objecting…”sounds good, but how the hell can we carve out a week to do this? We have a tight deadline to hit!”

My response: Honestly, what would happen if you paused adding incremental features for a week and invested in finding a home run? Seriously…what would happen? Tweet this!

Would your business collapse? Doubt it. Unless you are currently building a potential home run, then not much would happen. Certainly nothing that would move the needle…so swing for the damn fences!

Your Team Will Love It!

I will tell you one thing for sure that would happen, your team would be jacked up! You would see a unique energy. Creative ideas would dominate office talk in between the Design Sprints. Employee morale will go up. And your team comradery will improve…so swing for the damn fences!

Your Customers Will Love It!

Customers love to be “in the know” about your innovation. Not all customers, but a lot of customers. I have seen it over and over. They love that you are thinking creatively about how to solve their problems or bring new features/products to market. It will build a trusting relationship with them. They too will get excited about the upcoming Design Sprints…so swing for the damn fences!

Oh, by the way..it Works!

Google puts its money where it’s mouth is. Google’s famous 20% Rule enables employees to spend considerable time swinging for the fences. The result was AdSense (which is about 25% of revenues), Gmail, Google Transit, Google Talk, and Google News, among other projects. Google also trains all companies it invests in on the Design Sprint. If it works for a company growing as fast as Google, it can work for you…so swing for the damn fences!

Want Help?

Think this sounds cool, but want help getting started? Email me, I am happy to work with you to launch your first Design Sprint.

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