With a focus on effectiveness and “cutting out the middle man” in everyday business, sprints and agile methodologies are taking the business world by storm.
A five-day process made famous by Google Ventures for solving complex design problems, sprints are like the 100m for your product, helping teams move from idea to tested prototype within a fraction of the time. Imagine being able to fast forward through the stages of a project to see how customers react before you invest in producing a real product that doesn’t actually work.
Want to know how to carry out a successful sprint? Then hold onto your seats as we speed through the most productive working week ever.
The first stage is all about mapping the problem. Create a goal – in an ideal world what would this product/service look like? Then list all the problems or risks that could threaten this. Using a map to show how a customer moves through your service, get everyone to take notes starting with “how might we”, a handy tip for ensuring all notes are in the same format. Then the designated leader will choose the most relevant/reoccurring “how might we”s to focus the sprint on and hey presto you’ve got your big question to answer.
Tuesday is time to sketch your way to a solution. To lay the foundations, it’s useful to start off with lightening demos in which you review successful solutions that other companies have come up with. Individuals will then create their own design sketch, thus avoiding the typical brainstorm that more often than not ends up with everyone shouting in a desperate frenzy of creativity. It’s important to add that finished sketches don’t need to be a beautiful masterpiece, just something with a clear purpose that everybody can understand.
You can’t prototype and test all the solutions so it’s time to implement the “Sticky Decision” method. To start, everyone reviews the sketches in silence using sticky notes then altogether the team gets to suggest which aspects to take into the prototype. You’ll either be able to see a clear prototype or there will be competing design ideas that equally all have promise; either way, you’re heading in the right direction. Finally, using the chosen sketches from earlier, take the main elements and create a storyboard to demonstrate how the product/service prototypes will be carried out, avoiding the temptation to add new ideas.
Now it’s time to build a realistic prototype to simulate what the customers could eventually get their hands on. Choosing the correct tools to make your prototype is essential; following the sprint principles it needs to be able to develop your product quickly yet effectively. Once you’ve chosen, divide the prototype up to ensure that one person isn’t responsible for the mammoth task of creating it from beginning to end. At the end, an elected individual aptly known as the “stitcher”, needs to take all the pieces of the prototype and make sure they flow cohesively, ready for a trial run on the final day.
The final stretch is crucial for ironing out any small errors that may have previously slipped under the radar. This involves 5 1-1 interviews from customers who match the target profile for the product, allowing the team to gage the customer’s immediate reaction and better understand what went well or not so well. Then, once all these notes are amassed, you’ll quietly look for patterns in the feedback. Armed with this key insight, you’ll probably want to run a quicker follow up sprint which simply involves updating the prototype, finding a new set of customers and testing it again.
In using this method, you´ll have the answers to your most urgent questions almost immediately instead of waiting until a product launch.
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