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The Design Sprint Note-n-Map

How to get started with the dreaded Map creation on Day 1

I am a Design Sprint facilitator, and a couple of months ago, I was lucky to attend a great workshop with Jake Knapp in Copenhagen.

It’s the end of the morning and Jake introduces one of the key exercises of Sprint. “We’re gonna make a simple map of the end-to-end experience and draw it on the whiteboard. It should look a bit like that. No worry, it’s a messy process, but you just need to get started…

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While Jake was speaking, I was watching the other participants, some were seasoned designers and I saw FEAR in their eyes. I started to grin.

We had just reached what is probably the trickiest part of the Design Sprint process, and where a lot of teams feel unsure. “How to beat that Blank Page Syndrome?” It’s always a real challenge for the Sprintmaster.

Don’t get me wrong; I think Jake and GV got the Sprint 99% right in the first place, and what is in the book does work if you are experienced, but over time, We’ve created the following little trick to ease-up the Map creation, by breaking down the complexity and get things started:


0. Before you start

Agree on 3 important elements before starting the mapping process:

  1. Who is the Target Client / User? If we detect a lack of alignment within the team, we start with a quick Persona exercice (don’t go in too much details, just to define a priority target)
  2. Beginning of the story: when does the target customer experience begin?
  3. End of the story: what is the goal we are trying to reach?

1. Map alone, together

This starts with a 10-minutes individual exercise. Everyone gets horizontal post-it notes and is asked to create a simple user journey, mapping the User’s experience (from his initial problem to the ‘goal,’ such as buying a product on the website). This looks like a horizontal timeline of 10 post-its max. One action per post-it:

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2. Everyone sticks their timelines on the wall

One above the other. (5 min)

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3. Tell your story

The team gathers in front of the wall and each tells his story in 2 minutes max. (Use a pen or your finger to scroll through your story, while you narrate).

4. Highlight

After each presentation ask everyone to stick a little dot sticker on the steps they find really interesting or important. (The number they want).

Take 1 minute to discuss each story and to answer questions, if needed.

5. Clean up and laugh

When everyone is finished, suddenly ask the Team to remove and throw away all the post-it without dots, with an evil laugh. Some will start to protest, which is always fun.

6. One big story

Then you’ll have to merge the stories together. It sounds hard but it’s not, as you’ll normally see converging patterns and you should have all the bricks to reconstitute one big story. (10 min max)

The Map starts to appear clearly. At this point, we are where we were supposed to be and in sync with the book.

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That’s it

We can then discuss the Map with experts and get it right for everyone.
Time for a drink🍸

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