While at New York Life, I organized and led a number of Design Sprints–a service whose purpose was to help business owners brainstorm innovative solutions to problems. Based loosely on Google Venture’s Design Sprint, the workshop consisted of five full working days and brought together Business Leaders, Subject Matter Experts, Developers, Designers and End Users to understand each other’s perspectives and work towards an answer.
Day one was spent understanding the current state, looking at usage metrics, studying competitors, and listening to each group explain their pain points.
Day two is spent brainstorming, sketching and exploring. A mix of fun group exercises combined with time for solo work gets everyone involved and leads to some creative ideas.
Day three we decide on the solutions to pursue. While everyone on the team gets a voice in narrowing down the field, the ultimate decision is in the hands of the real world Stake Holder. After a decision is reached, the idea (or ideas if we decide to test two or three) are fleshed out further with workflows, journey maps and additional sketching.
Day four is all about building! The team pulls together to create simple prototypes of the idea. Everyone pitches in, from designing to prototyping to writing copy to planning test sessions, because tomorrow…
We test! Day five we have at least five users come in and try to break our idea. UX Researchers lead the session while the rest of the team observes and takes notes.
I began offering these sessions in response to a few organizational issues I’d observed: before this, business owners would frequently pitch projects to stakeholders without taking design and user feedback into account–as a result, the company would sometimes waste money pursuing a solution that didn’t actually solve the real problem. Business owners were often confused about how UX could help, and so we would be contacted too late to offer meaningful guidance. Lastly, stakeholders were more likely to grant budgets to projects that already had research, project plans and visuals to go along with the idea; most business owners at the company didn’t come from a Project Management background and struggled to put these things together–until they went through one of our Design Sprints, that is!
The initiative was a great success, receiving praise and recognition from Senior Management, Business Owners and the UX team alike. The only problem was balancing Sprint time with project time and deciding which Business Owner to help next.