Gather Research, set roles and expections, set up room and supplies.


In order to run a successful sprint, it’s important to do some upfront preparation. Whether you’re running the sprint for your own organization or for a client, it’s important to prepare with the following:

Set roles for the sprint

Facilitator: Leads the design sprint. Guides the sprint from start to completion.

Recorder: Takes notes, photographs and is in charge of the documentation for the sprint.

Product Owner: Typically the client and the person

with the initial product vision. This person has final say in the product.

Define Expectations

Sometimes, design sprints converge on solutions that are partially or completely invalidated. Some things will have worked, and others won’t. Make sure everyone understands that the outcome falls in one of three buckets:

Most stuff worked

This often doesn’t happen during the first sprint on a project, but if it happens to you, everyone on the team is probably on the same page about the fixes and tweaks you need to make. What to do next: Take a week to tune your existing prototype. Create a backlog for developers to start implementation of the most important features or API integrations.

Some big questions

A common outcome after a user study is a mixed bag: a few hits, a few tweaks, and a couple of real head-scratchers. Fortunately Keynote prototypes are easy to change, and as long as some parts of your design are solid, you can probably build on what you have. What to do next: You can move fast on the tweaks, but you’ll want to come up with multiple solutions for the bigger problems. Start your next sprint at step 2 (diverge).

Everything exploded

We’ve seen a lot of designs go up in flames, and that’s OK. You learned that something didn’t work, and it only took you a few hours to build it. This is great progress, and very cheap relative to building and launching a full product. Think what would have happened if you’d spent weeks or months implementing this solution! What to do next: Start your next sprint back at the drawing board with step 1 (understand). (Hint: the results of this study are perfect fodder for reviewing and building understanding as a group.)

Capture existing competition

Any potential competition that solves the same or similar problem that the sprint is trying to solve. This should include lowest common denominator competitors such as email and offline tools. Typically done by the Product Owner.

Set up room

Make sure you have a room big enough to fit all of the people in the sprint. The room would have a whiteboard and a place to pin or tape up sketches. Typically done by Facilitator.

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