Good solutions through Design Sprints

Martina Steinröder has thought about innovation management on the website Her article deals with Design Sprints and how you can quickly achieve innovative solutions with the help of these Design Sprints. Google developed the Design Sprint method, which is now used by media companies and publishers to achieve an innovative result within one working week with seven team members. Martina Steinröder has already held seminars on the topic and also a webinar. She also explains in an interview on how she thinks about Design Sprints and what tips she has. Below we summarize her article for you.
Woman speaking to several people in the background.

Design Sprints - when, for what and for whom?

Who needs Design Sprints and why? To explain this, it's worth first clarifying what a Design Sprint is in the first place. After all, it is something industry-specific. Classically, a design sprint is a structured method with which a team can answer and work on a precisely defined question and develop a creative, innovative solution within five working days. This involves very concrete questions and also very concrete solutions. These design sprints are mainly used in product development. They have established themselves in the new development of platforms, apps and programs, but also in their relaunch. Digital offerings are just as suitable as magazines, books or book series, and new marketing solutions. However, if there is no concrete question or it is very difficult to summarize the task at hand in a concrete question, the design sprint method is not suitable. Design sprints also tend not to be seen in the context of strategy development.

What is the composition of the team?

Martina Steinröder emphasizes that the composition of the team is crucial for success. She is convinced that a team of about seven people is the perfect size. An ideal team should be heterogeneous and as versatile as possible. Ideally, experts from marketing and sales, the development department and target group management should be part of the team and support the product owner or product manager in his or her work. The team must also include one or two people who can make decisions. This reduces coordination times enormously and ensures accelerated processing as well as better chances of success. It is also important that the team members know the customer and his needs. The more familiar they are with the customer's wishes and business, the more goal-oriented the work can be. In addition, various experts can be temporarily assigned to the team. These experts then accompany individual stages of the design sprints, but not the entire sprint.

Structure of Design Sprints

The preparation of each Design Sprint must be done carefully. After all, the sprint only lasts five days. From Monday to Friday, all members of the sprint team are busy and will not have time to think again about whether one or the other should not be done differently. For each of the five days, a plan is drawn up in advance to determine what needs to be done, when, by whom, and how much time is available. In a publishing or media company, design sprints are the ideal method for achieving the best results quickly. However, both the requirements and the goals must be precisely defined in advance. Ms. Steinröder is also familiar with design sprints that are shortened to two days. In this case, the tasks that would otherwise take five days to complete in compressed form are shrunk to just two days. She is convinced that the shortened sprints can answer concrete questions even more efficiently. This solution of two-day sprints is ideal for those who are involved in the day-to-day business of a publishing house and cannot afford to spend an entire week focusing on a single topic. Compared to the classic five-day sprint, the activities that take place in the two-day sprint are usually those that take place on the second and third days of the five-day sprint. They can be organized in the same way as a workshop. Ms. Steinröder advises scheduling a day or two for prototyping and testing about two or four weeks later, following a shortened design sprint. In this stage, the customer is closely involved. This optimizes the results of the sprint.

Error prevention during Design Sprints

In the last section of her article, Martina Steinröder discusses possible mistakes that often occur when organizing and running Design Sprints. Preparation is essential. If you have not prepared sufficiently and comprehensively, it is better to cancel your Design Sprint. All indispensable information must be available, such as the customer's needs, the situation on the market, the situation of the competitors and some more. Most importantly, the question to be addressed in the sprint must be clearly outlined and unambiguously formulated. A mistake can also be made in the composition of the team. At least one person in the team should have experience with design sprints or at least be a really talented facilitator. In this way, it can be avoided that too much is discussed and too little is worked on during the sprint.
Author: IAPM internal

Keywords: Agile project management, project structuring, workflow, innovation management

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