Design Sprint Mistakes: How to spot and avoid them

Design Sprint Mistakes

Last updated on March 22nd, 2018 at 04:01 pm

A Design Sprint is a powerful tool for Product Managers to produce a lot of valuable output and insights within a very compressed period. It’s especially useful in an involved stakeholder or client constellation. But to succeed with it, I want to point out some Design Sprint mistakes you should pay attention to:

  1. Staying in your usual environment
    To remain efficient (and cheap), we’re tempted to stay within the building and only to book one room for the whole week. Resist that temptation – Otherwise, most of your participants have an easy excuse to hop-in and -out.
  2. Only choosing participants from one department
    While it’s more comfortable just to discuss complicated product decisions with your close peer group, you’ll notice the quality of the output getting increased with a more diverse group of participants.
  3. Not paying enough attention to timeboxing
    While you shouldn’t cut-off every lively discussion in the very minute your schedule suggests, it’s important to visualize the time spent on a particular topic and to remain strict with set time boundaries – They’re valuable! An excellent device for helping here is a Time Timer.
  4. Interviewing users without a guide
    I can see that writing user interview guides are not precisely a Product Managers favorite task. But as you have pretty limited time to talk to users at the end of the week, meticulous preparation is essential!
  5. Not recapping what has been achieved/learned every day
    Just because you’re experience, Product Manager/Sprint Master doesn’t mean that you can’t pull your way off throughout the entire sprint. It’s important to get your team onboard again every day – by recapping the past day and integrating learnings into what’s ahead.

Design Sprint Mistakes on Day 1

  • “Nah, let’s just use a meeting room inside the office – Should be fine.”
  • “I assume you all read my memo upfront, so we’re all pretty much on the same page by now, right?”
  • “Sure, let’s just start with your daily stand-ups. A Design Sprint is not about timeboxing.”
  • “Vision? Well, let’s wait for Jim to arrive. Maybe he has written something about that on Confluence.”
  • “Has anybody his login credentials for Google Analytics at hand?”
  • “Don’t worry, I have a pretty clear picture of the product in my head, already.”
  • “Let me just quickly print this one thing out – Oh, we only have b/w printing in here?”
  • “I didn’t want to have someone from the other departments joining us this week, so we can do ‘our thing.'”
  • “Of course you can leave anytime for your meeting.”
  • “Does anybody have an idea, where we can get more stickies? I want to squeeze in more Design Thinking.”
  • “You can probably share this pen just between the 4 of you.”
  • “In the end, this should result in the product our CEO wants to see live.”
  • “No need to worry, we’ll just grab test users in Starbucks on Friday – Lean Startup Style.”
  • “Alright folks, the interesting first day of the Design Sprint. Max, could you put together the photo protocol and send it around?”
  • “Let’s meet tomorrow 60 minutes later – I have to take care of some stuff before we continue.”

Design Sprint Mistakes on Day 2

  • “Good morning everybody. Did anybody not enjoy yesterday?- Let’s dive right into sketching.”
  • “Don’t worry; I have my prepared sketches with me!”
  • “Shit, did anybody remember to forward the Design Sprint invitation to our designer?”
  • “Jim, did you work on this vision statement think as I asked you to? The group with our CEO is asking for it.”
  • “Ok, sketching time. I suggest we just do it in one group – Not seeing a problem with 15 people discussing each other’s ideas at the same time.”
  • “Can anybody recall what the actual user problem was? I think I missed this part because of my meeting yesterday.”
  • “How dare you to say that about my idea? It’s better than yours! Leave alone my contribution to the whole product discovery – What’s your job title anyways?!”
  • “Alright, let’s do a critique of each other’s work. But – you know – the polite way.”
  • “Nice looks like we already nailed it after one iteration.”
  • “Why I added this feature to my sketch? Well because all the other fancy apps are doing it.”
  • “Very happy about our velocity so far – Maybe we can squeeze this Design Sprint thing through in only three days.”
  • “Our Marketing VP wants to drop by this afternoon so let’s try to have some final visual designs ready until 3 PM.”
  • “Great day, everybody. I can’t wait to show our solutions to the Director of Product tomorrow in the morning.”

Design Sprint Mistakes on Day 3

  • “Good morning everybody – Did you enjoy this week so far as I did?”
  • “I have great news: Our head of product is very pleased with the ideas we’ve developed so far in the Design Sprint…he even added another one in our jour fixe this morning. And he wants us to prepare the next product discovery while we’re at it anyway…”
  • “Let’s have a look at our output from yesterday. I already cleaned up some of the not so good ideas last evening.”
  • “Alright, let’s dot vote for what to pursue…everybody has one dot to spare. Except for management level, which gets three.”
  • “Why did you vote for Marc’s idea? I don’t think this is the solution we should pursue.”
  • “Has anybody seen Jim?”
  • “Oh btw, I talked to Janet from the marketing during lunch – She had some great ideas for a new ad format we could add right here in the user journey.”
  • “Ok, looks like we have some ideas – let’s split this up into some user story artboards. Who brought the personas?”
  • “Puh looks like Alyssa has quite some prototyping to do tomorrow. Would you mind me taking some time off then while you’re busy?”
  • “Alright, that’s a wrap for today’s part of the Design Sprint. Who volunteers to prepare the user testing guide overnight?”

Design Sprint Mistakes on Day 4

  • “Good morning everybody – Who brought pen and paper?”
  • “I think it’s important to nail the color palette with this prototype.”
  • “I don’t care which tool you want to use as long as I can run the prototype smoothly on my Galaxy S II.”
  • “Jim, do you want to maybe collect the requirements for the checkout screen from the legal department?”
  • “Look, I sketched another idea I had this morning just very quickly for our design sprint. Maybe you can add this to the prototype variants?”
  • “Interview guide? That’s way too bureaucratic, let’s just shoot the questions we have in our head at them.”
  • “We should aim for a clear opinion on which version the users like best.”
  • “I don’t think we should document the interview results. The most critical quotes stick in our head anyways.
  • “Just go to a noisy and crowded space with lots of people for the interviews. This way, we can talk to as many people as possible.”
  • “Good job, team. Can’t wait to see you talking to those people at Starbucks for the valid feedback!”

Design Sprint Mistakes on Day 5

  • “Good morning, you ready to talk to some douchebag users?”
  • “No no, we just keep the order of product variants. They won’t have a bias.”
  • “You go ahead for the first interviews, Jim. I’ll just chill with the girls in the observation room aka kitchen.”
  • “Why should I switch-off my iPhone in the interview room? What if I miss an important Snap?”
  • “Wait, the users didn’t get a briefing about the product idea upfront?”
  • “Here’s the user interview guide – It all fits on this one sticky.”
  • “Yes, we’ll directly dive into the product. We don’t care about their background or usual habits.”
  • “Dear user, would you buy this product?”
  • “Please tell us which features you like to see in here.”
  • “I think we have all we need. Iterating on this idea doesn’t seem to be necessary.”
  • “Nah, I’ll just drop my notes on Confluence. No need for a retrospective of the Design Sprint.”
  • “Nailed it.”

One thought on “Design Sprint Mistakes: How to spot and avoid them”

  1. Hi Tim,

    let me fill in one more point: “Not inviting key stakeholders for recapping at the end of a sprint day”! I’ve made the experience that it’s very important to invite (top) management or other key stakeholders at the end of the day to show them what the team has done and achieved, so that they can give feedback or valuable input. And the most important point: You include them into the process!

    Sure, sometimes you will hear meanings or informations that might be more confusing for the team but that’s not a real problem because you can handle this afterwards.

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