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Prudential Insurance

How We Ran a Design Sprint at an Insurance Company

Caryn Gallis

When I was hired at Prudential, I told my new boss about the Design Sprint and he seemed interested.

“Have you ever led a Design Sprint?” he asked.

“No, but if you’re willing to take the chance, I would love to try.”

I love the concept. Soup-to-nuts one week to solve a big problem! That’s amazing. “This could change the world,” I thought.

But… is it possible within a traditional company? Would it work for us? Idea to prototype so fast… at an insurance company like Prudential? We saw this process as a stepping stone to shift our culture to a more user centric one and the Design Sprint fit the bill for our needs.

We had our doubts about conducting a Design Sprint… but the book built our confidence that we could take on an innovative process here too.

We were nervous that we would not have participation or senior leadership buy in… but the process quickly proved its worth to everyone with streamlined and efficient thought process.

We dove into the Design Sprint armed with a plethora of sticky notes, colored markers, and ample coffee.

What question did you want to answer in your sprint?

Since this work would be under a NDA, I cannot say what we were building but I can say that we were living up to our mission:

Benefit experiences that help create and protect financial wellness.

As a designer, it’s important to tie back to the bigger picture of the organization, even when trying new methodologies.

We chose to conduct a Design Sprint for this particular project for a number of reasons. Another area of our business was already working on giving our problem a “face lift” but not addressing some of the underlining design issues. We would be to quickly able to address those here and give our findings to support the other part of the business in their efforts.

Who was on the Sprint team?

Our Sprint team was made of a cross section of the organization. As the UX designer, I also doubled as the Sprint Master (this is me). John Consigli is the site owner and acted as the Decider. Also featured on the All-Star Team: a graphic designer, a copywriter, a developer, a SME, and web specialist. We had additional support in making the prototype from another graphic designer.

Our fearless Design Sprint team

How did you make your prototype?

Since our design was digital, we made our prototype using Sketch and InVision. I was teaching three people the basics of Sketch while working simultaneously!

Our team slightly disbanded at this point. We worked on the prototype on Friday and Monday. The extra time slowed the progression of the prototype.

What did you learn from the test?

Our finding showed that many people would use the tool we designed! We also found that we slightly over thought the process and our users explained how we could simplify it. We validated our hypothesis that our tool would assist our users to make more informed decisions and thus lead to better financial wellness.

Ready to watch the customer test

What’s next for your project?

The findings from the usability sessions showed we need to simplify the prototype. I held smaller design sessions to quickly create two more versions. Since everyone now had deep knowledge of the subject matter area, round two of design work went very fast. We are currently testing these with a remote testing service.

What worked (and didn’t work) about the sprint process?

Fortunately for us, the Sprint really was a success. The biggest win was the use of the space. We set the room up differently for each activity in the Sprint.

It is amazing how many different combinations one table and seven chairs we came up with as well as how much our work environment affected our outcomes.

When we put all the chairs along the walls, the conversation was much harder to get flowing vs. when we had the chairs closer together. The sheer size of the room kept us together!

The one aspect that did not work for us was not keeping the full team together for prototyping and pushing off the usability sessions. We also did not have a proper debriefing post usability testing. We lost momentum in doing this and potentially good ideas.

Did you make any modifications to the process?

Yes, we did modify the timeline. We started right after July 4th holiday since this is typically a slower week. We only had four days to work with as a team. We moved usability testing to the following Friday. This allowed enough time for the prototype to finish and for more people to view the testing sessions. I would not recommend altering the schedule too much as well as to keep the team together as much as possible on a first try at the Sprint.

Will your team sprint again?

Yes! It is possible to create big change in just one week. And Design Sprint is a way to do just that. The cost saving potential is enormous as well as deepening understanding of what users need. All Sprint Team members stated how many meeting, emails, time, etc the Sprint would save and how quickly decisions were made with ease.

“This would have been at least six months of meetings,” remarked many team members.

All areas of the business benefit by talking to real users in usability sessions. The value in learning from our users has far reach; from marketing campaigns to software development that resonate with our customers. I believe the affect of the Sprint will reach far and wide in the organization.

Sign of a good Design Sprint: Every surface covered in sticky notes and no coffee left!

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