Design Sprints: The Shortcut to Insightful Innovation

An interior office lobby.

Our society is continually inspired by innovation. As we seek new trends, brands strive to stay ahead of the game and offer the next “big thing.” Design sprints give brands the opportunity to test ideas with consumers before development, ensuring the final product achieves the greatest impact.

The challenge with designing a new product often lies in understanding. A brand may seize on a potential opportunity, launching into a full product development project without having a full grasp on the problem they are trying to solve or on the needs of their consumers. Utilizing sprints can help fill this gap.

The Solution: Design Sprints

The traditional strategy for launching a new product or service is a siloed process that can span across several months. In this method, each new phase is addressed only upon the completion of the previous phase. The challenge with this approach is that the inflexible structure doesn’t allow you to go back for quick adjustments. By the time of launch, the brand may discover that the product or service is flawed or ineffective. All that time and effort can potentially be spent on a fruitless endeavor.

By contrast, sprints give your design team the ability to address all phases of a project simultaneously. They can circle back to make any necessary adjustments right at the moment they discover an issue. Your team can essentially sidestep the traditional lengthy process by building and testing their ideas in quick succession. By condensing a full project into a shorter amount of time, the team is better able to determine the most productive path forward.

The sprint process is broken down into five basic steps (as shown below): Map out the problem, ideate all possible solutions, select the best solution to run with, build a quick prototype, and test with real people. A business can accomplish these steps within as short as a five-day span, and they can repeat them several times over until they find the best solution. This process enables businesses to test big problems before fully investing in a development project that may not be profitable. In doing so, businesses can gain a better perspective of both the problem and the most effective solution for their target consumer.

An Impactful Strategy

In order to keep pace with society’s rapid momentum, brands need to be adaptable. An agile brand strategy fixed on innovation and fluidity allows businesses to pivot more successfully when faced with disruptions or complications.

Design sprints fit perfectly into this agile approach. At the outset of a sprint, the team knows that concepts don’t have to be perfectly thought-out or executed. It’s more of an experiment, which leads them to feel more confident in expressing unique ideas. As the process ends by testing with real people, the team can immediately see the results of their efforts. If an idea doesn’t work, it’s not a big deal; back to the drawing board. But through the process, your team has gained valuable insight that propels them forward. The sprint gives your business the flexibility to adjust your strategy based on the feedback.

In addition to the resulting adaptability, sprints are also highly cost-efficient for business. Brands are often hesitant to invest in new initiatives due to uncertainty. They don’t want to invest resources into something that proves unsuccessful. This cautiousness is, of course, understandable. After all, businesses need to make a profit in order to be successful. However, this hesitation can hinder progress and innovative thinking. Design sprints can open the door new possibilities because you can test ideas without being tied to them. The prototypes are disposable creations, merely intended as a tool to gain a deeper understanding about your ideas and your consumers. Once you have landed on a successful idea, you can confidently invest in its full development.

Businesses need to offer products or services that add value in order to stay relevant. Prioritizing a culture of innovation is an essential starting point, but understanding what problem you are trying to solve is also key. The design sprint process can help achieve both of these goals by giving your brand the right perspective to move forward with confidence.