"Sprint" Book Writeup

March 21, 2016

What’s the point?
This is the playbook for running a Google Venture-brand “design sprint”. The idea is to design, prototype, and test a business idea through 5 days of structured activities.

How was it?
With more than 100 sprints under their belt, the team at Google Ventures has refined their process into an easily digestible set of activities. I appreciated the detailed examples in each section; not only did the book outline how to run each activity, but they included specific examples (including images of real whiteboards and sticky notes) to help understand the expected outputs.

The book has 3-4 main case studies that are carried through each of the five days. My major complaint was that I wanted more case studies. I wanted to know 25 different ways that people prototyped their varied ideas. The inclusion of a complicated hardware startup (robot bellhops at a hotel) gave me ammo to combat mental hangups that prototyping “won’t work for our problem”. I liked to try to predict what the teams would do to validate their ideas (without building a bunch of software) and then “check my work” as the book revealed what they did during the sprint.

Sections on the final day (user testing) helped me make a large mental shift. The realization that you could recruit a targeted group of users and conduct a test with only a laptop was enlightening. I’ve experienced perceived friction that we need a fancy, one-way mirror or weeks (not hours) to organize participants; the book explains how the constrained time frame can spur you to act and not fret so much about the logistics and making everything perfect.

Who should read it?
I’ve done several of the design sprint activities individually – story mapping, dot-voting, collaborative sketching, etc – but putting them all together for an intensive 5-day period is something that I would like to try.

Those looking for a structured way to kick start a new product (or feature) will find value in this book – provided that they actually try running a sprint after reading. Doing a design sprint seems like a great way to rapidly build momentum and shared understanding of a project, something that anyone creating products or solving business problems should be interested in exploring.

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