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Sell design, not design sprints

Design Sprint is by far the hottest technique in the field of problem-solving. I’m personally a big fan because of its strict no BS policies including NOT having the conventional brainstorming session and its impressive lets-get-muddy-now attitude.

Still, there are legitimate concerns regarding the technique. First and foremost, it requires a huge upfront commitment by the organization – cost and timewise. This incites stakeholders to put so much faith in the technique and to expect magical results.

Design Sprint is branded as a powerful technique for solving big problems. However, what’s often neglected from this understanding is the iterative nature of the method. Given running a Design Sprint workshop is costly, we often hope to get what we want (or better, what we think we want) from the first iteration.

Well? Not really! Nothing is guaranteed. There may be the possibility that after a week of solemn commitment to the process, we only negate a BIG assumption. Yes, itself it is a valuable result. It’s grandiose (if you ask me) knowing why a project wouldn’t work.

When it comes to solving complex problems, there are no quick answers. It can require months of elaborate researches to find a solution (as an example) for engaging kids in the school curriculum.

To recap:

The problem is that we have unrealistic expectations of the technique and we seek by using it to find THE answer fast. This is primarily because of the high upfront costs that come with Design Sprint.

The solution to this situation is to acknowledge that there are no quick answers. If your organization is committed to integrating Design Sprint in its problem-solving processes, you must also be ready to have rounds of iteration in case the response from the first round is tepid and not reliable enough.

If you seek to gain more insights on the topic, please read Michael’s article that initially sparked in me the excitement to write about it.