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Critical Path

Supplies needed: Whiteboard, Markers

Estimated time: 15 min

Best to use when

The Critical Path should be discussed after a Problem Statement has been agreed upon. Once completed, the Critical Path should give a step-by-step map of the user's most critical experience, from having the problem to solving the problem, and every step in-between.

How do you know which user story is most important? It depends on the problem you are solving in the sprint. For example:

  • Helping people understand and get started with your product — you probably want to focus on the experience of a user encountering your product for the first time.
  • Creating a new product concept — you probably want to look into the future and imagine the value proposition and core features for an engaged user.
  • Improving conversion rate from a landing page — you probably want to understand why people land on your page and what their goals are.
  • This step can be difficult and time-consuming, but it's critical!

From The product design sprint: understand (day 1)


  1. Starting with the Problem Statement as the first step, as a group, use your understanding of the Problem Statement to map out the steps of the user's journey through solving that problem
  2. The Facilitator should stand at the whiteboard and draw the flow.
  3. Keep adding steps until you've reached a solution.


The end result often looks like the map of a bus or subway line: Galen's Critical Path From The Product Design Sprint

Example Critical Path

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