FINDING Yu Shigematsu 2018.03.07

Super-short-term intensive project technique:
5 steps of "Design Sprint."

The continuous spread of the “design” field.

Communication designer, UX designer, interaction designer- The times when there was very few occupations with “designer” in the job title is already a thing of the past. Nowadays, there are numerous design fields and designers working in them.

The ever-increasing number of players taking on a roll in "design"

Furthermore, not only products, but our experiences and the exhilaration gained from them are also subject to “design,” and the occupation, position and role of members involved in the process are becoming diverse. Having diversity will be an initiator for creating new ideas that go beyond the unconscious bias of the group.

Having said that, it is also true that differences in position become obstacles in making a project run smoothly. Perhaps you have experienced the lack of trust or cultural differences across departments.

Among these obstacles, “Design Sprint” attracts attention as an attempt to overcome time and communication constraints. This finding explains concrete steps on the project method incorporating the elements of Design Sprint based on the presentation on January 29th, 2018 ” ‘Design Camp’for a faster discovery and verification.”

Challenge to Diversity - What is Design Sprint?

5 Steps of Design Sprint: Understanding, Divergence, Decision making, Prototyping and Testing

To put it simply, Design Sprint is to promote a project on a short-term intensive basis, which does not go smoothly as the task gets fragmented with each passing day.

In our daily work, multiple tasks are promoted simultaneously.
Design Sprint engages in the same challenge on a short-term intensive basis.

While various companies have already put it in practice, there is no established framework yet, and there are variations in time span from five days to six weeks. However, five processes to verify ideas such as understanding, divergence, decision making, prototyping, and testing for a given period of time share a common ground in every process.

Today, we will explain the points to incorporate the elements into the project based on the 5-day Design Sprint method proposed by GV.

GV’s Design Sprint is a 5-day cycle from Monday through Friday.

A common clear goal and objective

Design Sprint has a clear goal and objective. The goal is to get real evaluation from real users.

Please note that getting a good evaluation is not the goal. The purpose is to turn the intentions of the team in the same direction quickly in a limited time, as well as verifying the generated idea through prototype.

Process of individual “deepening” is the cornerstone

There is a big difference in the role expected between a workshop and individual work. Workshops are suitable for the process of spreading ideas and diverging with multiple members. On the other hand, individual work is suitable for in-depth thinking of an idea to generate high-quality projects.

Within the 5 days, the proportion of group work is merely 1/5 of the total time.

Many often imagine Design Sprint to be like a training camp workshop. However, only about 1/5 of the entire workshop is spent for group work in a workshop format, as shown in the figure in yellow.

The remaining red area is individual work. Though it is individual work, team members work on the same work in the same place, and then discuss the individual ideas with the team during the time shown in yellow.

How to proceed with one week sprint

Now we will share the concrete process during the five days. We won’t go over every content specified in the two books we referred to: “SPRINT How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days” and “Design Sprint: A Practical Guidebook for Building Great Digital Products.” We rather share with you the essence we noticed when I worked on projects which is not written in the books.

Day 1: Understanding

Prerequisites / Background

On Day 1, your work is to fully understand and input the following: premise and background, the past cases, and what your targeted goal will be/ will not be. The most important thing here is to understand the premise and background of the project which will be the key for judgment of decision-making.

Understanding the premise and background may sound obvious, but is the most important part. Often times, understanding the premise and background seem to end superficially. The reason why this is important is because it clarifies where you place the core of judgment of all team members. It may be easy to understand with an example of comparing two questions with different premises.

The prerequisite changes the way the problem is viewed and the solution derived. The premise on the left may conclude with “Cotton will not grow in the UK”; while the premise on the right may not necessarily reach the same conclusion mentioned above, but instead, it may be “It cannot be said that it is cold and humid in the entire UK.”

Goal of Sprint and other boundaries

In making decisions smoothly, it is very effective not only to lay out the goal through the 5-day sprint but also to decide on things you do not aim for. Tasks to be addressed within a limited time of 5 days will be explicit, strengthening the criteria for making choices.

Users’ real voices

Finally, regarding how to listen to the users’ voices- Since problem solving is an important factor in design, it is necessary to clarify the problem to be solved by design.

There are various quantitative research methods to clarify the “what” and “how” such as questionnaires and data analysis. However, the only research that can deeply explore “why (why people do it)” to find the problem to be solved is qualitative research known as depth interview.

By deepening the question of “why,” you will see expectations and desires behind people’s behavior that cannot be seen from quantitative research.

For example, while you suppose the issue of the media site is to “enhance the search function,” through digging deeper to question, “Why do users wish for an enhanced search function?” you may find the deep desires are actually to read articles that match their own interests. And you should notice that it is not merely a question of simple search function enhancement, but the true task is to deliver contents according to individual users.

On Day 1, the following two things should be mentioned through the above understanding. Also, the target people for the user-test interview to be conducted on Day 5 will be narrowed down.

Things to be clarified on Day 1 of Sprint

・ Clear target user
・ Business opportunity area

What is important here is to clearly define the challenges (opportunities) to be solved after inputting various tasks. We often call it “How Might We Question,” but on Day 1 we define “How can we ◯◯ (resolve) ◯◯ (task)?”

Day 2: Divergence

Inputting ideas from different fields/ environments

On Day 2, we will let off the ideas on ​​problem solving methods based on user image and opportunity area arisen on Day 1. In the morning, we will individually search ideas for each problem from existing services, products and projects, and share it with the team at lunchtime, and draw idea sketches in the afternoon.

When searching for sample cases, we recommend picking up similar problem solving methods in different environments.

Let’s take the case of buying a ballpoint pen at a stationery store as an example. How do you think the users can choose what they want from a whole bunch of ballpoint pens that do not have much difference in appearance or function?

Observing the experiences at a coffee shop dealing completely different coffee beans for example may derive unexpected discoveries and ideas.

The coffee beans sold in coffee shops look pretty much the same, but come in various species and flavors. Compared with choosing a ballpoint pen at the stationery shop, the structure of the experience is the same in terms of choosing what you want out of similar products.

It is about quantity, not quality- Mandatory divergence and idea sketch

In the afternoon, we will make some idea sketches individually. As it is important to obtain quantity rather than quality, using a Mandal-Art technique will make divergence smooth.

After concentrating on letting out a lot of ideas, we will make some idea sketches based on them. Each idea does not necessarily have to be sketched; try sketching combining what interests you.

On this day, working in a framework like, “let’s do 3 sets of Mandal-Art to idea sketches” in a certain time frame may be an efficient way of working.

Day 3: Decision-making

Mandatory participation for final decision makers

From multiple idea sketches made on Day 2, we will decide which one will be tested on the last day. This step of decision-making is the most difficult phase.

After letting out a lot of ideas, do some idea sketches based on the ideas. You do not have to sketch each idea, but try making sketches combining some of the ideas that interest you.

On this day, working in a framework like, “let’s do 3 sets of Mandal-Art to idea sketches” in a certain time frame may be an efficient way of working.

Speed and users’ feedback is key

Nonetheless, the final decision maker is a human being, too, therefore he/she may make a wrong decision. But the selling point of Design Sprint is its speediness—as its name suggests. There is no need to fear wrong decision. We must not forget that the objective is to “get real feedback from users through determined ideas.”

Having made a decision in the morning, make a storyboard with about fifteen frames in the afternoon based on that decision.

Day 4: Prototyping

A paper prototype is not a completion of work

On Day 4, the day before the test, we will make a prototype based on the storyboard created in afternoon on Day 3. The important thing here is to make the prototype with the same media as the completed form. If you end up with paper prototype though a digital device is assumed as a completed form, you are won’t be able to see the interaction to conduct a valid test.

Prototyping tool

While we often use AdobeXD or InVision to create prototypes of digital devices in Japan, people abroad often use an interesting service called “keynotepia,” which we are going to introduce below.

At the end of Day 4, the prototype should be finished along with an interview guide indicating “such and such interview is intended to be carried out.”

Day 5: Test

Interview at least five users

As the final day concludes with a test using the prototype, the following two points are very important for the interview.

· Interview at least five people
· Interview the correct users

According to the survey by Nielsen Norman Group, the statistics say that “85% of the problem is found from an interview with five people.”

It might be more efficient to focus on collecting five people first, rather than collecting more than six people to increase the remaining 15%, as the request will be of short notice for interviewees.

What is the value of Design Sprint?

Because Design Sprint is based on the fact that all team members experience five processes, it is possible to prevent “Reckless HiPPO (Highest paid person’s opinion; boss, leader)” such as overturning or inappropriate feedback.

Moreover, we think this is a program that enables you to notice an error quickly, rather than a method to get to a quick answer. The sooner you notice errors, the faster you improve it; perhaps that is the biggest merit of Design Sprint.

Bear in mind, Design Sprint is only a “cycle.” It does not come to a close after five days, but the starting point is set after running for five days. From there, you will see what you should do next. We believe that is the best advantage of incorporating Design Sprint.

Yu Shigematsu

AuthorYu Shigematsu(Creative Director)

After graduating from Cinema Department, College of Art of Nihon University, Yu Shigematsu started his career in the film and TV industry and moved into the web industry as a director, where he was involved in a broad range of production services, such as corporate website production, smartphone design and application design. In 2012, he joined Loftwork Inc. He is a proposal director who excels in developing proposals ranging from project and coverage proposals to workshop designing. He is also active (on an occasional basis) as a video producer of music content and others. His hobby is travelling. His favorite film director is Maya Deren.


For super-short-term intensive project

A diversifying user needs, a market and business environment that changes at tremendous speed – Now, from large companies to individuals, everyone keeps on producing new services and products with speed and puts excessive time and resources on the process It is an era when itself becomes a big risk.

Loftwork also works on short-term intensive project that incorporate the design sprint method, and has a dedicated project room.

Inquiries and consultation of short-term intensive project

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