Sprint: how to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days… by designer Jake Knapp, who created the 5-day process at Google Ventures in order to help Google initiatives and investments prototype and validate ideas as rapidly and effectively as possible.
Entrepreneurs constantly face tough decisions, and their outcome won’t be realized until months of effort have passed.
The 5-day sprint is designed to iterate through these decisions and test different alternatives in a very compressed timeframe. Before even building a minimum viable product, the Sprint methodology shortcuts months of debate and development.
An example from the book is when Blue Bottle coffee wanted to build its online store – a project that would take a long time and require years of refinement. But the initial direction would be crucial, and that’s where the 5-day spring came in.
First, the Blue Bottle coffee team mapped out the online purchase process of a customer and refined it with the feedback from experts. Then, they came up with 3 competing designs, prototyped all of them using Keynote, and presented them to potential customers. Based on the feedback, the team actually eliminated the most-favored design!
Here’s how it works
A 5-day sprint starts on Monday. The team maps out in great detail the customer journey, then invites experts to provide their input, and finally decides on one well-defined objective for the week – one thing that’s critical and can be tested.
On Tuesday, the team sketches out possible solutions without criticizing or making any decisions. All ideas are sketched out and considered, like a brainstorming session.
On Wednesday, the team decides: each member goes around and votes with a sticker on the ideas whiteboarded around the room. The winning idea gets carefully storyboarded in even greater detail.
On Thursday, the storyboard gets converted into a prototype in the most efficient way possible. You don’t need to code or manufacture anything. Figure out the absolute minimum that will give your customers an accurate representation of the idea so they can provide feedback.
Finally, on Friday, the idea and any competing versions are put to the test. A good interviewer guides customers through the idea without imposing any biases. All while the team watches the reactions through a camera feed, taking notes. At the end of the day, they compare notes and boil them down to the lessons of the sprint.
The 5-day sprint applies to pretty much any type of project. And its success is predicated on getting the right team in place, identifying the right challenge so it’s not too broad, and setting aside the time and effort to focus on the problem. Obviously you can’t run every decision through a 5-day sprint because you need to run a business, but it can accelerate the key decisions and set your company on the right path.