Design sprints are all the rage but they need great facilitators. Sometimes that responsibility falls to you.
This is a difficult role, made harder when the participants have never done this before. It can be daunting to run your first (or fiftieth) workshop, but some good prep and getting into a good headspace can make all the difference.
Before we dive in: Design sprints aren’t magic. They’re just a framework for assembling a handful of classic design-thinking (read: problem-solving) techniques. And while they don’t solve every problem, when used efficiently they can help you get a lot done in a short amount of time.
If you work in technology and you’re unaware of design sprints or design thinking, let me help you out from under that rock.
- “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Design Thinking” is an excellent primer by Christina Wodtke on what “design thinking” really is and why it’s so powerful.
- Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days from the Google Ventures team is the text everyone recommends. You’ll find some good case studies and a structure in here.
- Design Sprint: A Practical Guidebook for Building Great Digital Products is the book I recommend to everyone who is wondering how to facilitate a sprint. Whereas Sprint (above) provides case studies and a framework, this text offers more of a recipe-book approach so you can mix and match exercises based on the team and time available.
You can learn a lot of basics from the above resources, especially the last one. Below, I’ve listed my top tips that books won’t necessarily teach you. These will help you run design sprints of varying lengths—I’ve done everything from one-hour prioritization workshops to multi-day efforts—with minimal stage fright.
Several days before the sprint: general prep
Set your workshop up for success by preparing well.
- Gather your materials well in advance. My basic sprint kit contains 2-inch by 2-inch Post-It notes in many colors…