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You can still run able Design Sprints accidentally – here’s how

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You can still run able Design Sprints accidentally – here’s how

Raz Burciu
Story by
Raz Burciu


Among artefact teams, a Design Sprint is one of the many accepted design methodologies that vie for their attention. A “Sprint”—in artist jargon—is a time-constrained, five-phase action that uses design thinking to reduce risk when designing a new product. As a artefact design approach, it’s accepting ground among designers, artefact managers, and others alive in the realm of analytic and artefact innovation. Why?

It works.

A Design Sprint’s goal is to focus on a specific problem, accomplish assorted solutions, build prototypes, and get rapid acknowledgment from users. It can help companies make better cardinal decisions and innovate more quickly.

A Sprint is run with a group of people and takes place over several days with many moving parts. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but if aggregate goes to plan, it can prove highly rewarding. With anybody in the same location, a Design Sprint is arduous to run, and when teams shift to working remotely, it can become even more demanding.

The Design Sprint methodology

Ever since its birth at Google Ventures and the absolution of Sprint, the book by Jake Knapp, many companies and agencies have picked up Design Sprints as a action and made it part of their design methodology. Google, Airbnb, Uber, and LEGO are just a few big players that have chip Design Sprints into their artefact development workflow.

This was my acknowledgment the first time I read “Sprint: How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days.” Wow!

My admiration at the design sprint process
(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)

Anyone who has spent years in product design knows that the same analytical questions keep coming up during the artefact design process:

  • How can we get from an idea to a accurate ancestor faster?
  • How can we make sure we’re designing the right thing before spending a lot of money architecture it?
  • How can we make more assured artefact decisions?

The Sprint was my answer, and it felt like a game-changer.

Except for one aspect, aggregate was active calmly in my design practice: 90% of my audience were remote, spanning the globe from San Francisco to Melbourne, Australia. As a Europe-based artefact designer, I lacked a action to work with broadcast teams and advantage the magic of Design Sprints.

The analytic thing to do was to find a client and a acceptable design challenge, agenda a remote Design Sprint, go by the books, and hope for the best.

It was a disaster.

I didn’t know how to prepare, people were disengaged, and there were issues with accord and communication.

When a remote design sprint goes wrong
(Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash)

The challenges of active Design Sprints remotely

  • Timezone differences and team availability. It’s hard to agenda and align broadcast teams for long periods as the Sprint requires acute work sessions.
  • Low engagement. In a approved Sprint, your team is alive calm in the same concrete space, and befitting them focused and on point is easy. When alive remotely, your team is one Alt-Tab away from Slack or Netflix.
  • Tech-related issues. A poor internet connection, low-battery AirPods, and capricious microphones can hijack your remote session.
  • Ineffective collaboration. In a Sprint room, you have a whiteboard as your single workspace. Remotely, things can get messy more bound than you can say “sticky note.”

I was captivated by the idea of active Design Sprints, and I enjoyed remote work. It was part of my DNA. I had to find a way to amalgamate the two.

I looked at abeyant solutions, experimented a lot, and accordingly made mistakes. Eventually, I found the right blend of tools and techniques to make remote Design Sprints work. Here are my key takeaways.

The key to active acknowledged remote Design Sprints: Break it up!

The better claiming when active remote Sprints is the Sprint anatomy itself.

In a regular, in-person Sprint, there is a group of people accommodating and going through contest based on the afterward schedule:

The multi-day design sprint process

Monday and Tuesday are for workshops. The team goes through assorted contest for a whole day, bushing up whiteboards and accession sticky notes. The prototyping team comes on Wednesday, and then user tests are run to validate ideas on Thursday.

Monday and Tuesday are the most acute days and crave the most effort to adapt and facilitate the Sprint. Team associates must clear and sync calendars and stay calm for a fairly long time, potentially arch to fatigue.

While the acceptable Design Sprint framework works great for in-person sessions, a few adjustments are needed to fit remote, broadcast teams. After many iterations (and truthfully, a few mistakes), a acceptable band-aid was developed.

The updated, remote adaptation of the Design Sprint appearance a aggregate of ancillary and asynchronous sessions, which allow for better flexibility.

Here’s our remote Design Sprint schedule:

The design sprint framework and schedule

Days 1 and 2 are branch days including the full team; sessions are broken into parts, alternating amid online and offline. Day 3 is for the remote prototyping team to ancestor the solutions the team came up with, and Day 4 is for user testing.

(For a abundant outline of Sprint exercises, timing, and instructions, check out our Miro arrangement below.)

Note that we didn’t label the days Monday, Tuesday, etc. This was done advisedly because when doing a remote Sprint, the agenda depends on the team’s availability, and a Monday start may not be possible.

A simple, three-step action for active and facilitating an able remote Design Sprint

There are three elements that will make a remote Sprint run smoothly:

  • Rigorous preparation
  • The right choice of tools
  • Proper facilitation
The best remote design sprint tools

Step 1: Adapt for the Remote Design Sprint

The best way to abort a Design Sprint before it starts is to not be able enough, abnormally when facilitating a remote session. While some may accede pre-Sprint work counterintuitive because it’s advised to empower free-flowing anticipation and prototyping, it still needs to run under controlled circumstances; therefore, accurate alertness is key.

Define the Problem

Once the Design Sprint is planned, acceptable abreast with the botheration to be solved is essential. Key stakeholders need to be consulted, and it needs to be clear what aftereffect each team member will be amenable for on a given challenge. This exercise will help choose the right people for the Sprint as well as adapt the affair more effectively.

Build the Design Sprint Team

Building the right team is vital and will assure the success of the Design Sprint. A team of five to seven people is ideal.

The remote design sprint team

The Sprint’s goal is to get the right people to focus on a specific botheration and accomplish solutions. The above team is an ideal mix; the roles can be adapted depending on needs.

Schedule the Sprint

It’s best to agenda participants within a nine-hour window across timezones. It’s also capital to let people know when they’ll be needed and for how long. Doodle is an accomplished tool for this.

Design sprint activities need to be appointed across timezones in a 9-hour window

Pro tip: Use World Time Buddy to review timezones and check overlaps.

Here are some examples of alpha time combinations we use frequently:

  • 6 PM Berlin/9 AM San Francisco
  • 3 PM Perth/9 AM Berlin
  • 5 PM San Francisco/8 AM Perth

But what if your team is added apart, beyond the 9-hour window? If a few people are in San Francisco and the rest are in Mumbai, two abstracted sessions would be required, and the after-effects compiled. There will be a time, however, when an important accommodation is to be made, so addition will have to make a small cede to be on the call at a less than optimal hour.

Create a Design Sprint brief

Once the team is set, create a brief using this template. It’s the core certificate advised to align all participants on what to expect from the accessible Design Sprint. It includes an outline of the challenge, the schedule, the time frame, and a account of things to do.

The remote design sprint brief

Frame the problem

Problem-framing is a acute basic of Design Sprint preparation. It involves doing enough analysis around the botheration to be solved. This means talking to key people, attractive at analytics—and depending on the botheration type—conducting audits or interviews to find out as much as accessible about the problem. This action will help set the stage and get anybody accumbent before the Design Sprint starts.

Set up basic calls with the sprint team

It’s capital to give anybody an overview of what’s going to happen during a Design Sprint. The action is intense, and it’s best to make sure people are on the same page and are aware of what will happen. They need to accept the claiming and what is accepted of them. It might sound obvious, but it’s also a good idea to make sure the team knows how to accomplish all the remote tools and tech that will be used.

Step 2: The tools

Lucky for us, many accomplished remote tools and technologies are already in place for advice and collaboration. Here are my admired tools:

  • Zoom: Connect, chat, share screens, and record sessions seamlessly.
  • Notion: Keep aggregate in one place, from notes and tasks to prototypes.
  • Figma: Ancestor and coact across timezones online.
  • UserTesting: Get rapid acknowledgment on prototypes.
  • Doodle: Agenda meetings.
  • Miro: Build and advance ideas with a collaborative whiteboarding platform.
  • Asana: Easily manage team projects and tasks.

Step 3: Active seamless remote Design Sprints using our Miro template

We created a complete Remote Design Sprint Template (signup with Miro is required) to help run a seamless Sprint. Here are a few elements from the template:

Independent work areas for each participant

Creating alone workspaces for each team member increases all-embracing efficiency. It lets people stay focused on their tasks and gives a clear view of their progress, acceptance the facilitator to bound see if anyone is having trouble.

Clear explanations and instructions

Instead of again asking how to do the exercises, each actor is given clear steps and examples associated with their work area. In this way, confusing conversations are minimized, abnormally midway through the silent tasks.

Built-in tools that make life easier

Miro was chosen for assorted reasons. It’s a band-aid that provides all the tools and widgets to kickstart a Sprint, such as a timer, area voting, and a presentation mode.

Grab the Miro arrangement here.

The remote design sprint template

Advanced remote Design Sprint abetment tips

Here are a few useful tips to help facilitate active remote Design Sprints:

  • A quiet call environment. Nothing is worse than a whirring espresso apparatus in the accomplishments while trying to run a Sprint. Work in a quiet affair room.
  • Live video is mandatory. It’s a good idea to be strict with this because as a facilitator, it will come in handy. It’s easy to spot if addition is able if you can see anybody on a live video feed. For example, light is bouncing off of their face when tab-switching or attractive confused, accouterment an befalling for the facilitator to help them.
  • Managing expectations. Managing the team’s expectations is crucial, abnormally if active a remote Design Sprint for the first time. After all, the team’s agenda is blocked for a few days, and they need to see an ROI. Team associates must be aware of the adapted outcome, which is a accurate (or invalidated) ancestor for the claiming at hand. In a Design Sprint, the team is not architecture an entire product. It’s about acceptance a administration and accepting the aplomb to move forward.
  • Staying organized. Having a single source of truth for all the Design Sprint assets will save a lot of time. It’s a good idea to set up a activity in a tool like Asana or Notion where updates can be provided and all accordant abstracts can be uploaded, so the entire team is affiliated and understands where to find everything. Feel free to use other tools like Basecamp or Trello.
  • Dealing with conflict. Situations may arise when troublemakers and skeptics who are analytic the Sprint’s capability will need to be managed. The Sprint has its peculiarities that are unlike a approved workday. Being able to acutely set expectations before and during the Sprint will save headaches down the line.

How to kickstart the next remote Design Sprint

  • Once the Sprint is on its way, get up to speed with the claiming and talk to key people on the team.
  • Build the dream Design Sprint team (see above).
  • Schedule the sessions and affirm the team’s commitment.
  • Use this arrangement to create a Design Sprint Brief.
  • Set up a activity in a admired activity administration tool.
  • Prepare the basic “Sprint room” by using our exclusive Remote Design Sprint Template on Miro.

Published April 17, 2020 — 10:17 UTC

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