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Having run nearly one hundred Design Sprints, mostly at corporate organisations, you can say we’re either slightly mad or in love with the process at Orange Minds. Having run so many Design Sprints I have seen its power time and time again. So what has been the magic since Sprint was published 4 years ago, and why did it take off in many companies? I believe it’s the urgency to do something and the simple and easy to follow recipe.
“When I read the book I thought: ‘This is the sh*t. This is what we need as a company’”. Helen (Tetra Pak)
Reflecting now she says it has been greatly rewarding working this way. Why exactly? Read on.
I think the Design Sprint has the power to transform the way you work. However what are other companies’ (corporates) experience with this statement? To answer this question, I set out to talk to people who are at the heart of transformations and have used Design Sprints to get there. In this article I’ll share my lessons learned from conversations with IBM, PwC, Tetra Pak, and Pearson about Design Sprints at scale and how they impacted their organisation and company culture.
Note: Design Sprints at scale in this article refers to organisations who have run 50–200+ Design Sprints internally.
For those who don’t know the Design Sprint, in short the Design Sprint is a 5-day process to solve complex challenges through prototyping and testing with your customer (or end-user). The Design Sprint helps teams to save time, money and discussions. It is a tool to stop talking and start doing. It is a recipe you can follow so that you can get moving much faster and more directed than before. I love it because it combines both tangible output and progress as a team, ánd it’s a learning-by-doing-week to experience a customer-centric and prototyping mindset.
“Design Sprint is a tool to stop talking and start doing.”
Many companies we work with wonder: How might we reimagine business in the digital age? This is a challenge on many people’s minds for the past 10+ years. If not more.
Although there are enough success cases of digital transformation, there are also enough companies still struggling with the question ‘where to start?’ or perhaps, ‘how to continue’. Not knowing this is stressful for managers who have to reach digital transformation KPIs and stressful for teams who are told to transform faster without the proper tools and know how.
Let’s be agile, let’s scrum, let’s change, let’s innovate, let’s transform. Let’s do it faster, leaner, more efficient. All wonderful terms without any guidance on how to start and what to do.
Digital transformation is such a huge undertaking as it effects the entire organisation from business processes, customer experiences, to culture itself, in order to meet changing business and market needs. Since Design Sprints focus on decision making, collaboration, creativity, prototyping, customer-centricity, just to name a few, I wondered if Design Sprints could be a useful tool to use in this digital transformations. It’s an easy to follow recipe that changes the mindset as much as the results. Giving teams tools in the process and solving challenges as they go.
I wanted to understand from companies who ran 50+ Design Sprints, what this did to their results and company culture. I have split my learnings on 5 themes listed below.
How did they start? Why Design Sprints? None of the companies that I spoke with (Tetra Pak, IBM, Pearson and PwC) started to run Design Sprints with a big picture in mind to transform their organisation. They wanted to bring design (thinking) into the business in the way of talking to, and testing with customers & end-users, challenging assumptions, and asking the question “should we build this” instead of the old, “can we build this?”
In short, change the mindset, change the result.
You don’t need to be a Design agency to run Design Sprints.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Just start, and start small. Let people get a taste of what Design Sprints can do and let them come back for more.
“We are amazed by how solid the framework is.” Helen (Tetra Pak)
Once you have sneaked in and camouflaged the Design Sprint to get started, make it theirs by solving their problems. Show that you come to help, not take over their project.
At IBM the cultural impact of running Design Sprints was larger than the result of the Sprints themselves. This was not an expected result or even goal when starting to run Design Sprints.
The magic is in a dedicated team, one week, one room.
“Culture and trust are equally important as the method.” Lee (IBM)
The Design Sprint is a powerful framework. It is a recipe that once understood well can be adjusted to what works even for you/your organisation.
The people I spoke to did not set out on a digital transformation. The transformation came with the work done. And the work is not done, it’s ongoing. But even with their vast size, IBM, PwC, Pearson & Tetra Pak started. They iterated and learned. The power of the Design Sprint is that it brings people together, humanises a project, creates results and lets you experience a different way of working. Everyone said “there is still so much to be done” but I applaud the steps already taken and thank them for sharing their lessons!
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Beverly Sills
Start with one Design Sprint. It might lead to 2, then 5, 20 and 50.
If you want to know more about what the Design Sprint can mean for you, do not hesitate to get in touch. We can also guid you to build your own Design Sprint capability in house. We’ll run Design Sprints together and transfer all our knowledge and experience as start the change in your organisation.
Helen Bjorkman — Head of Design Sprints at Tetra Pak, Lee Duncan — Enterprise Design Sprint Leader at IBM, Joe Lalley — Experience Design Leader & Organizational Transformation at PwC, Mike Caskey — Product Exploration UX Design & Facilitation at Pearson for sharing all your stories. Also thanks to Frank de Wit — former Head UX at ANWB, Sabrina Goerlich — founder Design Sprint Studio and Robert Skrobe — founder of Dallas Design Sprints and GVDS. You’re all awesome to help me along.
I am Margriet Buseman. Together with Robert Westerhuis we’re Orange Minds. We use Design Sprints to change the way you work. We help big companies scale innovation mindsets and skillsets. We’re adventurous out-of-the-box do-ers, engaged facilitators, challenging the status quo with humor, energy and years of innovation practice. We have run 90+ Design Sprints globally and countless innovation mindset workshops to get companies moving and adapt a growth mindset. #stoptalking #startdoing