Want to solve big challenges in just 5 days? That was the tempting premise of a book by Jake Knapp, that enticed me in under the simple banner of Sprint. When I first picked up the book back in March 2016 I hadn’t quite realised how much it would change the way I approached much of my work – nor did I realise how big a deal it would become in the circles I move in.
Why am I telling you this? Well Since reading the book and trying some of the techniques in Sprint I wanted to share some of the fire that this lit under me. I also wanted to show you how with a bit of commitment and clarity it is possible to do amazing things in a short period of time.
Skeptical? You may be, but here at KMP we ran a sprint with a client that more than doubled their conversion rate within 3 weeks of starting the sprint. Wait what? That is right, and the brilliant thing about it is that all of this comes from collaboration, clarity and focus.
So what is Sprint?
Sprint is a concept developed by Google Ventures, and I’m not going to cover the detail here, you’ll find plenty of blog posts about it and of course you could also read the book. Incidentally, if you are a client of ours – you will be receiving an offer to get you the book for free. Anyway as a brief overview Sprint gets you from challenge to tested solution in just five days following the format below:
Monday – Pick a target
On Monday we get together as a team and set a long term goal, map out journeys, understand the audiences and interview experts from around the company. The day ends with us picking a target – a piece of the challenge that we’ll solve over the next few days.
Tuesday – Solution Sketching
Tuesday starts with inspiration and culminates in a process led sketching session that will deliver the foundations for a solution.
Wednesday – Plan
Wednesday gives a point to decide on what to prototype, we storyboard and plan the prototype that we’ll deliver on Thursday.
Thursday – Prototype
At this point we create a ‘ fake it’ prototype that is good enough for our testers to test as though it were real. We only create the façade, just enough to test the solution.
Friday – Test
A facilitator led testing day, we invite real customers in to try the prototype and gain the insight we need to decide what next.
Each day requires a dedicated team to work together and by the end of it results in some seriously interesting results. The early focus of the week is around understanding, this then runs into solutions and testing. The focus and pace may seem a bit daunting, but actually that is part of the draw of this. It creates focus and momentum that can often be lost in a larger discovery and design process.
Whenever I invite clients to work with us in this fashion, there are a few things that I always find myself saying. Firstly, this reduces risk, OK the process is intensive and can be challenging, there will be friction and debate and there can be some uncomfortable truths, but within this process assumptions are called out and validated, theories are tested and then a solution is tested with actual customers and all of this before any build has taken place – we go into a project knowing that what we are creating is validate with customers and valuable to your organisation. Low Risk.
The other thing I find myself saying, is that this is an enlightening process that often delivers a sense of involvement and ownership within an organisation, Day 1 for example involves a wide range of people from across the organisation and gets them to help validate the though process – you’ll learn stuff and there will be people in your organisation who come away pleased that their point of view had been heard for a change.
Most importantly - It works, the fact of the matter is that wherever we have used sprint with a client the results have been impressive and include innovative solutions with real commercial impact – like the timeline we developed with Aberdeen Airport that increase conversion and revenue or the new nursery pages we developed for a leading nursery chain that encouraged record numbers of parents to ask for a visit.
Plus, the process is actually a lot of fun – and don’t worry you don’t need to be a creative to solutions sketch.
What have we learned with sprints?
There are few things we have discovered along the way with this, the 5 day sprint is the ideal, we’ve managed to carry the momentum by splitting up the sprint to accommodate diaries and workloads, but there are key parts of the sprint that need to be kept together.
Everyone needs to see the test – this is key, as a team you need to make notes and interpret the trends from the test, it is vital that all of the team commit to doing this as the results are far better.
Brainstorming doesn’t work, we found it alien working ‘alone together at first and it can be pretty easy to fall back into debate, but I can assure you the results of not going back to the group brainstorm are compelling – we have had much more creative and innovative solutions without the noise of a brainstorm.
And, we sort of already knew this, there is nothing more compelling than the voice of your customer in this process.
Fancy giving one a go? Then get in touch and we can talk about how our take on google sprints can help you. You'll discover a business changing way to solve problems and you might even get a free book out of it.
Head of Client Services