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  • Scott Clee

Pulling a rabbit out of the smallest Design Sprint hat

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

At times we all felt that we may have bitten off more than we can chew. But with the right mixture of people, commitment and belief we made it through the week... and magic happened.

Back in December we collaborated for the first time with our partners at The SIX on a “compressed” Design Sprint. This involved taking the standard format of a Design Sprint (5 full days) and squeezing it into 5 x 60-90 minute sessions.

The experiment didn’t stop there however. We also bolted on 30 minutes of ThoughtForma training for the first 3 days with the goal of getting everyone skilled up in app building for Day 4 of the Design Sprint.

If you’ve ever participated in a Design Sprint you’ll know how full on they are. They require a huge amount of focus, time & energy. So imagine squeezing something the size of a suitcase into a match box. It was never going to be easy! And don’t forget the context switching required to learn an app building tool at the end of each session. The effort required would be monumental.

Why would you want to do this?

Well, for those of you who are aware of the value that a design sprint gives you, it makes sense to offer this experience to those who may not be able to find 5 full days to “test one out”.

Additionally, we really wanted to try and get everyone being part of the building phase, which meant training on an app building tool. This is where our easy to learn ThoughtForma platform came into play. With its minimal learning curve we knew we could get everyone ready for building an app.

Was it hard getting a 5 day Design Sprint down to a matter of hours?

Yes, and we definitely couldn’t have done it without the experience and knowledge that The SIX bring to the table. With Kandis O’Brien as the driving force at the front of the Design Sprint, she kept everyone motivated and got things moving at a pace necessary to stay on track with the tight agenda. Diana Ying Liu was silently (and sometimes not so silently) pulling levers in the back end to ensure the logistical aspects of the Design Sprint were seamlessly executed.

How did the app building go on Day 4?

Phenomenally well. In all truth it was the first time we’d managed to see our ThoughtForma platform in the hands of a large group of people using it in anger. Aside from a few bugs (hey we’re still in Beta!) our platform held up wonderfully. It gave us some amazing app results along with feedback on usability and capability.

Team A’s app:

What happened next?

Well, following the Christmas break we collectively agreed to run another session in February, this time with more experimentation.

In the last Design Sprint we explored a Nickel & Dimes idea (a fictitious company looking to improve the saving behaviours of millennials, which works really well!). This time we thought we’d ask people what idea they’d like to explore. Ideas were submitted, and then voted on, and we settled on the concept of Innovation Team Resourcing.

On top of this, given the successful app building in the last event we wanted to challenge the team to a fast feedback iteration on Testing Day (Friday). This would mean performing the client testing, processing the feedback, prioritising the most impactful suggestions, and then making updates directly in ThoughtForma before coming back for a second round of testing. All this in the space of a few hours!!

How did the evolved Design Sprint #2 go?

The event started on the Monday where we met face-to-face (well, over Zoom) with the global participants of our Design Sprint. We had attendees from North America, South America, Asia & Europe, so the time zone differences were wild!

The sheer amount of items that needed to be compressed into the first day proved to be a challenging task given the amount of time that was allocated. It was hard, but we did it.

The bulk of the participants returned for the next day (respect to them!) and the Design Sprint continued with its ferocious pace. As ideas started to solidify, all participants were getting into their stride. At the end of the day, we saw our first sign of magic. We had the quickest completion of our ThoughtForma training exercises ever!!

A sample of Day 2 idea sketches:

Wednesday was full of voting dots. They were everywhere!

The dots are beautifully represented here:

When Thursday arrived, everyone used their ThoughtForma app building skills to collaborate on the app. The team self-organised wonderfully. They shared sections of the design to be built individually and then brought them back into a single app.

By the end of Thursday, which was a slightly longer session of 4 hours, the app was ready for Client Testing the next day.

At the start of the last day of a Design Sprint you can, and absolutely should, feel a sense of satisfaction in the achievements of the week. However, that certainly doesn’t mean the job is complete. In fact, in this case we were far from it, as we had decided to go for a fast feedback iteration with a second round of testing.

The first round of testing went very well. To the degree that I’d like to highlight the outstanding job that the two volunteer interviewers performed. It truly showed the calibre of the participants in this Design Sprint.

The next step was to discuss and prioritise the feedback prior to jumping back into ThoughtForma and making updates. The team completed all this within the space of an hour!!

After performing a second round interview and getting feedback on the iterated app, everyone felt they’d achieved something special. This successful Design Sprint had come to an end.

As everybody said goodbye to each other there were smiles and compliments abound. The effort through the week had paid off and everyone was buzzing (even those where it was now in the early hours of the morning!).

Putting it all in perspective. This was a collection of people from around the world. Who came together to learn about Design Sprints. To fully participate in a real Design Sprint. To learn an app building tool. To successfully build an app using the new tool. To turnaround a feedback iteration within an hour. AND to collaboratively deliver an app that looks like this:

Yes. They created this:

To me, that’s pure magic.

Bring on the next event!

Scott Clee

Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer at ThoughtForma

To close out this article here’s 3 Do’s and a Don’t for you.

Do join in with the Design Sprint communities, they’re full of the calibre of people who participated above. After each of these events there’s always at least one attendee who becomes part of the organisation team for the next one. Huge shout out to Melanie Biton for helping with our latest one! That’s the kind of community this is.

Do look up The SIX and consider what they can offer you. They are world class at what they do and you should really experience that for yourself.

Do give our easy to learn app building platform ThoughtForma a go. If you’re short of ideas to build then please join our social media channels where we encourage ideas to be shared.

Don’t stop creating, learning and sharing. These are the things that keep us all going.

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