At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Making ideas work

Design Sprints: Not just solving problems faster.

Track shoe

The pace of change has been increasing every year for most businesses and the criticality of making those changes has equally increased. In fact, there is bound to be some algorithm that perfectly represents the rate of that change — but who has time to work it out. Right?

Being in the business of helping organisations address some of these change related problems and opportunities, we have seen the organisation grapple with the significant impact on time, resource and budgets that change related projects bring.  Often times the projects aren't just fast and big, they are also very complex.

To help, we have successfully applied an increasing array of tools, methodologies, models and frameworks to these challenges. You have probably heard of some them before: Lean, Agile, Personas, UX, Design Thinking, Disruption, Customer Experience and Human-Centred.

We often accuse businesses of the overuse of buzz words  — and designers are just as bad it seems — but the point is that there are many ways you can implement design thinking in helping to solve business problems and maximise opportunities.

One effective tool for solving problems, and making the most of opportunities quickly and effectively, is the Design Sprint.

What is a Design Sprint?

Sprints are typically time-constrained projects that get a collaborative team together from the client to define the challenge, come up with a lot of ideas, build the best ideas and test them for effect. Popularised recently by Google Ventures for small start-ups, Design Sprints can be successfully applied to a wide variety of problems experienced by businesses and enterprises.

One area where Sprints works very well is in the Enterprise — where business critical problems can be challenging to solve because of constraints of time, resource and commitment from multiple areas of the business.

For example DNA recently ran a 10-Day Design Sprint, for a large private sector organisation, with the purpose of understanding how we could rationalise and simplify the proliferation of digital channels across their multiple business units.

We started out by developing a strong alignment with the client project team around the organisational and user context. Interrogating user needs led to scenarios and solutions that pushed the client team to think differently.

In a few short days we had together developed a number of working prototypes — and had tested these for desirability, viability and feasibility.

The outcomes of the testing, and subsequent iteration were a shared understanding of the priority problems and prototype solutions that could be implemented for quick wins and ongoing roadmaps.

The value of a Design Sprint

Design Sprints help build a balanced view of user goals, business opportunities and context. This context is then leveraged to create and iterate solutions in the form of prototypes that can be implemented quickly by the business.

Design Sprints are used to solve a wide range of problems in a wide variety of contexts. We have applied them to the design of innovative new user experiences, improving existing customer experiences, development of new products, business model and strategy definition, channel optimisation and core enterprise services.

They can’t solve everything — as some problems are just too big to be solved in a few short days — but they can significantly increase the rate at which problems can be solved and solutions implemented. Not only can they be turned around quickly — because of the robust processes and methods followed — the solutions are often better. This can only be a good thing for businesses trying to keep up with the pace of change.

Follow up articles will include a detailed overview of the Design Sprint process, the tools and methodologies used and where they can be applied for most effect.

If you want to know more about how Design Sprints can make a difference for your business then get in touch with either Steve Maskell - Auckland, Josh Burt - Wellington, Grenville Main - Wellington.


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