The world is changing faster than ever before. New technologies bring new possibilities for businesses, startups, and individuals alike. In this fast-paced environment, it’s more important than ever to have a process for testing ideas quickly and effectively.
An effective innovation process doesn’t just happen overnight (or after reading this blog post). It requires a lot of trial and error to get things right.
Sprinting is one of the most effective ways to create an innovative culture that is ready to tackle big problems and test new ideas at a moment’s notice. The sprint methodology has been adopted by leading companies like Google and Facebook as a way to accelerate their innovation process.
Whether you’re an individual looking to break out of your routine or an organization ready to commit to the process, we can help you get started with sprinting right away!
What is a Sprint?
The sprint methodology is a process for testing ideas quickly and effectively. Sprints are particularly useful for addressing big problems that require creative solutions.
A sprint begins with a prompt — usually, a problem that needs solving. Participants form teams and dedicate five days to solving the prompt by diving headfirst into research, ideation, prototyping, and testing.
At the end of the sprint, the team reflects on what worked and what didn’t. They then take away concrete insights and action items based on their findings. The end goal is to produce a prototype that shows what the solution could look like.
Sprints are a great way to get creative juices flowing. They encourage people to explore angles they may not have considered before and take a structured, but flexible, approach to finding solutions.
Step 1: Define the Problem
When you have a big problem to solve, the first step is to clearly define the problem that needs to be solved. This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to get bogged down by solutions before you’ve fully explored the scope of the problem.
The first step of the sprint process is to create a problem statement (in the form of a question and an issue). Once you have identified the problem, you can start to explore potential solutions.
Step 2: Sketching
Next, the team sketches out potential solutions. This is a creative exercise that can help you evaluate different scenarios and ideas that could solve the problem. There are no constraints on how you approach this phase — sketching can be done verbally, visually, or through a mix of both.
If you don’t know how to approach this exercise, think about how you would explain the problem to a 5-year-old.
- What are the main points?
- What are the key issues?
- What do you think the solution could look like?
Step 3: Choose Your Team
Once you have an idea of how you want to approach the solution, it’s time to choose your team. The best teams are flexible, have mixed skill sets and are balanced between senior and junior members.
A sprint requires a significant time commitment — five days isn’t a lot of time to create something meaningful. While you don’t want a team that is too large, you also want a diverse make-up so that a variety of perspectives and skill sets are represented.
Step 4: Build the Thing
After the team has ideated and sketched out a potential solution, it’s time to move on to building the prototype.
Building the prototype doesn’t mean building an end product that could be sold or used by customers. It simply means creating something to prove the idea can work.
This can be done in a variety of ways, depending on the desired outcome. You may want to build a visual or digital prototype to show how the solution could look and feel. You may also want to build a functional prototype that could be tested with real customers.
Whatever path you choose, the goal is to build something that gives the team something to show for their work.
Step 5: Determine success
The final step of the sprint process is to determine how you will measure the success of the project. This is referred to as the “retrospective,” and it’s a critical component of the sprint process.
A successful sprint project doesn’t end after the prototype has been built — it ends with a full analysis of what went well, what didn’t go so well, and how you can improve the process in the future. All of these decisions can be applied to future projects, and they can be tracked and measured over time to see how the process is improving.
We recommend making an “after” picture, where you take a photo of what you built at the end of the sprint. This way, you have something tangible to refer to in the future.
The sprint methodology is a proven process for testing ideas quickly and effectively. It begins with a problem that needs solving, followed by sketching out potential solutions, choosing a team, building a prototype, and determining success. There are no set rules as to when you should employ the sprint methodology — it’s something that can be applied to all types of projects.