The best creativity tools to try today – #4: Google Design Sprint

The best creativity tools to try today – #4: Google Design Sprint

Our monthly look at the tools you can try when in search of creative ideas puts an awesome freebie from Google under the spotlight.

What is it?
Google’s Design Sprint is a process based around six key steps that sees a team of around 5-7 people – often from different departments – working to a set time-frame to try and solve a problem. When it works, it means that teams can rapidly speed up the thinking/testing/prototyping phases of a new idea.

What is it for?
A Design Sprint leans on design thinking principles and a well-defined structure to help find solutions to a problem. You start by understanding the users and defining the goal; next you look at possible solutions, decide on the best one and then, after building a simple prototype, you test it on real users.

How does it work?
Participants are assigned specific roles – commonly these include a Facilitator and a Decider, the latter being the person who has final say when a team starts to flounder. Sprints work at the start of a new project to define a product; at an impasse or roadblock when a product team needs to get unstuck; or when you’ve uncovered new insights about your market. Once you’ve assembled the right team and agreed on a timeframe, the Google Design Sprint website will steer you through the process.

Who is it for?
This is how Google describe it: “The Design Sprint Kit is an open-source resource for design leaders, product owners, developers or anyone who is learning about or running Design Sprints.” It’s pretty adaptable, and apparently the United Nations have used Sprints to increase usage of their ShareTheMeal app, while KLM put them to good use to improve their airport experience.

How long does it take?
The recommended time is from 1-5 days, which can vary according to the complexity of the issue, your resources and so on. The main point, though, is that it helps you to race through a problem in a thorough, efficient way, covering all important bases. One important point: Google state that organisers of the Sprint should expect to spend a day planning for each day it will last.

Difficulty rating
3/5. Definitely not a quick-fix that can be done in a lunchbreak, a Design Sprint needs plenty of prep and a good team behind it to achieve significant outcomes.

Why we love it
Precisely because of its clear process, with each section broken down into manageable chunks. Smaller businesses in particular can find themselves running around like headless chickens when trying to solve a problem; a Design Sprint will steer them through the entire process and, if diligently pursued and applied to the right problem, almost guarantees usable results at the end. Google make it all pretty straightforward and throw in some top-notch templates for free. Check it out here.

See some of our other tool recommendations here (empathy map) and here (trend canvas)

If you’re interested in finding out about more creativity tools and processes and practicing them, join our Creative Ninja training.

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