How to run Google Sprints

👋 A trusty guide from Polyform

What the heck’s a Sprint?

The Design Sprint (or Google Sprint) is an agile product and experience design process combining business, technology and your customers. It’s a super structured way to brainstorm answers around critical business questions and issues through the use of design, prototyping and testing new ideas with customers throughout the workshop’s five days. The methodology originates from the team at Google Ventures, who describe it as:

We read the Sprint book and created this simple and streamline workshop so any startup or organization can run Design Sprints in a repeatable way to get results fast, every time.

👏 If you’re still interested in the book, click here to get it 👏

How to use the Guide:

  1. Download all of the resources, templates, and workbooks here.
  2. Watch the video for the day.
  3. Complete any and all activities and deliverables for that day.
  4. Repeat until the week is done!

Introduction

Before you kick off your Sprint, there are a few orders of business you’ll need to attend to. Get started with the intro video (👆) and complete the workbooks to be fully prepared for the upcoming week.

Intro Resources

  • Set the Stage (Checklist)
  • Sprint Supplies (Checklist)

Additional Reading

Monday

Welcome to the Sprint! To start things off, we’ll agree to our team’s long-term goal. Afterward, we’re going to make a map of our challenge. Later in the afternoon, we’ll ask the experts at our company to share their knowledge before we pick an ambitious but manageable target for the week.

Monday Resources

  • Monday Schedule (Checklist)
  • 🔮 Make a Map (Tutorial)
  • 🗞 Ask the Experts (Script Template)
  • 🔮 How Might We (Tutorial)

Additional Reading

Tuesday

Now that we’ve understood the problem we’re choosing to solve, we get to focus on solutions. We’ll start the day off with some inspiration and review some existing ideas before we try and remix and improve them. In the afternoon each person on our sprint team is going to sketch out some solutions via our four-step process. We’ll also begin recruiting customers that fit our target profile!

Tuesday Resources

  • Tuesday Schedule (Checklist)
  • 🗞 Four-Step Sketch (Templates)

Additional Reading

Wednesday

As we roll into Wednesday, we’re going to have a list of possible solutions. It’s an awesome place to be, but also problematic — we can’t prototype and test all the possibilities. We need to decide on one. In the morning, we’ll critique each of the solutions and decide which has the best chance of achieving that long-term goal. In the afternoon, we’ll take some of the winning scenes from our sketching, and turn those into our storyboard. This storyboard will become a step by step plan for our prototype!

Wednesday Resources

  • Wednesday Schedule (Checklist)
  • 🔮 Heat Mapping (Tutorial)

Additional Reading

Thursday

Yesterday we created a storyboard, and now we’ll need to turn that storyboard into a prototype. That'll be a realistic facade that we’ll use to test on customers, done in one day. Today we’ll also make sure everything is ready for Friday’s test through confirming schedules, reviewing the prototype, and creating an interview script.

Thursday Resources

  • ✅ Thursday Schedule (Checklist)
  • 🔮 Prototyping 101 (Tutorial)
  • 🗞 Working Prototype Samples (Templates)

Additional Reading

Friday

Your sprint began with a big challenge, an excellent team — and not much else. By Friday, you’ve created promising solutions, chosen the best, and built a realistic prototype. That alone would make for an impressively productive week. But you’ll take it one step further as you interview customers and learn by watching them react to your prototype. This test makes the entire sprint worthwhile: At the end of the day, you’ll know how far you have to go, and you’ll know just what to do next.

Friday Resources

  • ✅ Friday Schedule (Checklist)
  • 🔮 The Five-Act Interview (Tutorial)
  • 🗞 Interview Script (Template)
  • 🗞 Sample Schedule (Template)

Additional Reading

Outro

Give yourself and your team a huge pat on the back and a round of applause for everyone. There’s no doubt everyone must be feeling flustered, excited, burned out, ecstatic, or in best-case scenarios — a little of each. The process only gets easier, the more often you do it. Experts recommend taking time to run Sprints and tackle a big problem once per Quarter. However, we’ve worked with startups who run them more frequently, and others who run them less frequently. It all depends on the needs and prerogative of your startup or organization.

Final Thoughts

If after running your first or second Sprint your team is feeling dissatisfied with progress or findings, we implore you not to be discouraged. All good things take time, and it’s really rare than an organization perfects the Design Sprint after their first time. In working with more than 50+ startups, we’ve yet to see it.

If you’re interested in learning more about Polyform, please check us out. Or feel free to drop us a line at hello@polyform.co.

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Special Thanks to:

  • Julia Lianos
  • Spaces Offices (Vancouver)
  • Jake Knapp & Google Ventures