Design sprints are rapidly gaining steam within organizations (including my own), and have driven considerable demand for design sprint training tools and resources.
Google Venture’s 5-day design sprint approach, popularized and democratized by Jake Knapp in his best-selling book ‘Sprint’, has quickly become a hot commodity in innovative organizations ranging from start-ups to massive Fortune 500 companies.
Over the past few years, I’ve become a strong advocate for design sprints. Design sprints fuse components of design thinking and agile, into a human-centric innovation approach that can quickly deliver tangible results with minimal upfront investment.
One of the biggest draws of design sprints is the ability to quickly frame problems and develop solutions to place in front of potential users, without having to spend weeks/months/years going down the wrong development path.
However, despite growing awareness and appreciation for design sprints, many people do not understand the foundations of the sprint, and far fewer know how to facilitate them.
I’ve recently received an influx of interest from my readers on the topic of design sprints. The questions I receive most frequently include:
- What is a design sprint? How does it relate to design thinking?
- Can design sprints be used to more rapidly develop organizational support for design thinking?
- What is the best training for facilitating design sprints?
- Are there ways to become a “certified” sprint master?
- How do I secure leadership buy-in for design sprints and create an organizational culture that embraces them?
- What kind of tools and templates are available to help me facilitate a sprint?
- How do I develop an organizational design sprint capability?
- Where can I find other design sprinters to collaborate with?
- Is there any way to modify or shorten a design sprint without negatively impacting the output?
I’ve recently spoken with a handful of my peers from other organizations on the topic of design sprints and have discovered a reoccurring theme: Strong curiosity and/or appreciation for design sprints, but a dearth of employees who actually know how to facilitate them.
It’s a shame, as design sprints can be an incredibly powerful component of the innovator/design thinker toolkit. The result in the situation above, is often an organization never taking that critical first step in conducting its first sprint.
Alternatively, organizations may accumulate a backlog of sprints due to a lack of sprint masters within the organization to facilitate them.
Missed opportunities. Swirl and inertia while competitors sprint.
It doesn’t have to be so difficult.
There’s plenty of readily available information for aspiring design sprinters to utilize. I’ve also found the design sprint community to be wonderful at sharing best practices and tools. As such, I wanted to share a compilation of my favorite design sprint tools and resources.
I’ve also included some of my research on design sprint training programs and events. While I’m familiar with design sprints from participating in them and through what I’ve read, I’ve never actually received any formal design sprint training.
I’m very interested in receiving professional design sprint training to build the skill-set and confidence to facilitate my first design sprint (and “sell it in” to my executive team).
Without further adieu, my compilation of design sprint training tools and resources
NOTE – tools and resources below are segmented by cost (in USD). Costs for formalized training programs ($$-$$$$) are for comprehensive design sprint training courses/bootcamps that cover the entire sprint process.
ARTICLES & TOOLKITS
- Google Design Sprint Kit
- Good introductory resource for planning and running a design sprint. Also includes some detailed case studies.
- Link to Design Sprint Kit
- 23 Design Sprint Tips from Jake Knapp
- Very practical facilitation tips from the guy who literally wrote the book on design sprints.
- Link to Jake’s article
- 3 Day Product Design Sprint
- Interested in conducting a Google Ventures style design sprint but looking to spend less than the standard 5 days? Here’s how.
- Step-by-step approach for a 3 day design sprint
- Good case example of the sprint process being shortened to 3 days
- Running a Remote Design Sprint
- This designer facilitated a full design sprint remotely, with participants across 4 time zones. Ambitious! Fascinating to see how his team accomplished this.
- Click to read the details on how to achieve such an ambitious feat
- How to Pick the Most Important Challenges for Your Design Sprint
- Great article on the InVision App blog discussing arguably the most important step of the design sprint process, picking the right challenge.
- Link to article
- Scaling Design Sprints Within an Organization
- Inspiring story of how LEGO has successfully been able to run design sprints at scale.
- Click the link if you want to scale up design sprints or need help with business case building
- Digital Playbook for Design Sprints
- Telepathy developed a free design sprint playbook on a Trello board. It breaks down each day of the sprint, by the hour, and includes links, visuals, and checklists.
- Link to the Digital Design Sprint Playbook
- Design Sprint Facilitator Guide from Design Sprint Academy
- Free design sprint facilitator guide from Design Sprint Academy. In addition to some design sprint basics, it has some great pro tips for sprint facilitation based on their experience running sprints.
- Link to download the guide – you need to provide your e-mail address but they won’t spam you and it’s worth the download
- nearForm’s Design Sprint Playbook
- Ireland-based nearForm created a handy, easy to follow handbook on how to run design sprints.
- Link to nearForm’s 29 page design sprint handbook pdf
- Collection of Design Sprint Articles from New Haircut
- Jay Melone, one of the partners at New Haircut, and his colleagues frequently post quick reads on a range of interesting design sprint related topics.
- Link to New Haircut’s design sprints articles
- Collection of Design Sprint Articles from AJ&Smart
- In addition to having some great videos, AJ&Smart has a wonderful collection of design sprint articles on its website.
- Link to AJ&Smart design sprint articles – look towards the bottom of the page
- Duco App
- Digital product design agency New Haircut created a free iOS App that’s simple but quite handy for first-time sprinters. The app serves as a useful checklist for what you need to know/have/do before and during a sprint.
- Link to Duco App
- AJ&Smart YouTube Channel
- Search for “design sprint” on YouTube and you’ll certainly find design sprint videos from AJ&Smart. They have SIGNIFICANT experience running design sprints and partner very closely with Jake Knapp. Their videos are super informative and entertaining!
- Link to AJ&Smart YouTube Channel
- Google I/O 2014 Design Sprint Presentation
- Daniel Burka, Jake Knapp, and Nadya Direkova gave a great talk on design sprints that’s well worth watching in it’s entirety.
- Link to their talk on design sprints
- The Product Breakfast Club
- Jake Knapp and Jonathan Courtney (co-founder of AJ&Smart) have a great weekly podcast where they discuss innovation, design sprints, and lots of other stuff.
- Link to podcast available via iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher (and YouTube)
- Google Ventures Design Sprint Podcast at London School of Economics
- Good 1.5 hour conversation with Sprint authors and former Google Ventures design partners Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky.
- Click to hear Jake & John talk about the design sprint process
- ‘Sprint’ Book by Jake Knapp
- If you can only choose one design sprint resource, buy this book.
- Design Sprints Slack Channel
- If you enjoy reading ‘Sprint’ and want to continue the discussion with a fantastic design sprint community, invest $49 for lifetime access to the official Design Sprint Slack community. Trust me, it’s worth it.
- Link to Design Sprint Slack Community
DESIGN SPRINT TRAINING PROGRAMS
- Udacity + AJ&Smart Partnership (Design Sprint Foundations Nanodegree)
- What I Find Noteworthy: Well-known MOOC provider partnering with one of the world’s most respected design sprint firms, to deliver a crash course on design sprints. I’ve strongly considered taking this class as I already enjoy watching AJ&Smart’s videos on YouTube. In addition to providing a good baseline knowledge of design sprints, the class seems like a great way to get in some “practice reps” before attempting to facilitate an actual sprint.
- Format: Online via Udacity’s learning platform. Class has been offered since late 2017.
- Duration: 4 weeks (estimated 10 hour time commitment per week)
- Cost: $299
- Udacity’s Design Sprint Foundations Homepage
- Link to Very Thorough Review of Udacity’s Design Sprint Foundations program
- Design Sprint School – (Design Sprint Bootcamp Mentor Track)
- What I Find Noteworthy: They have a certification program and a mentor program. If you pass their Sprint Master certification exam, you can serve as a mentor to other students in future classes, and join their online community of Sprint Masters. Students learn not one, but two different approaches to design sprints (Jake Knapp’s sprint model and Tenny Pinheiro’s MVS service start-up model).
- Format: Online. Students run their own design sprint, while also playing the role of user for another student.
- Jake Knapp Training Workshops
- What I Find Noteworthy: Although I’ve never met or seen Jake live, I’ve heard from others and seen on YouTube that he is a very engaging speaker and a wonderful educator. You can also rest assured that he’s always on the cutting-edge of design sprints and has accumulated a wealth of useful stories and experiences that aren’t in his book. This has been a bit of a bucket-list experience for me; just need him to come to my city.
- Duration: 1 day
- Cost: ~$800-$900 for 1 day class in US. NOTE: Jake travel’s all over the world and I’ve seen his pricing (in USD equivalent) vary by country. He frequently has early-bird specials if you purchase tickets a bit in advance. Most tickets I’ve seen have cost less than $1,000.
- Format: Public workshop, in-person.
- Insightful Review of One of Jake’s Workshops
- Calendar of Upcoming Workshops Led by Jake
DESIGN SPRINT TRAINING PROGRAMS
- AJ&Smart – (Design Sprint Masterclass)
- What I Find Noteworthy: This appears to be AJ&Smart’s live in-person training ($3,500+) with all the tools, templates, and slides, but at half the price. The class teaches the latest 2018 version of the design sprint — the 4 day Design Sprint 2.0 created by AJ&Smart in partnership with Jake Knapp. This class just launched in May 2018 and seems perfect for anyone looking to get the full design sprint training experience from a top-tier design sprint firm, without having to travel or take time away from work. The training is very comprehensive, covering not only fundamentals of the design sprint, but also best practices/tools for selling-in sprints, advanced facilitation, and delivery of sprint results to leadership/clients. VERY compelling offering.
- Format: Online.
- Duration: Self-paced. They estimate “you can complete the course and be ready to facilitate your first sprint within 2 weekends, without stress”
- Cost: ~$1,750 for certification and lifetime access to all materials (including any future updates)
- 8/12 Update: I took the course and loved it! Click here for my review of the course.
AJ&Smart Design Sprint Masterclass Overview
$$$$ – ($2000+)
IN-PERSON DESIGN SPRINT TRAINING
No matter how good a book or online course is, it’s difficult to beat an expert conducted in-person training, practicing under the watchful eye of a trained professional. Trade-offs for in-person training as is often the case, include greater costs and time commitment.
- AJ&Smart is a small Berlin-based digital product design studio with a blue-chip client list, founded in 2011. As mentioned above, they have a very close partnership with Jake Knapp (who often helps with their bootcamps). They have very deep expertise in design sprints and I love the energy and personality of their team.
- AJS offers a 1 day design sprint foundations and 2 day design sprint bootcamp. The 2 day bootcamp is ~$4,700 USD. Classes mostly seem to be held in Berlin, where they are based.
- Sample Client List: Bain, Deutsche Telekom, Lufthansa, Red Bull, Daimler, HSBC, LEGO
- Link to AJ&Smart Design Sprint Training Homepage
Design Sprint Training Session at AJ&Smart
- Design Sprint Academy (New Haircut)
- They are the design sprint training arm of New Haircut, one of the leading firms in design sprint driven product development.
- While Design Sprint Academy has only been around for about a year, their team has been conducting sprints for much longer through their work at New Haircut.
- Their one week bootcamp looks like it could be a pretty amazing experience, although I don’t know anyone personally who’s participated.
- Most of their bootcamps/workshops are in London, Berlin, or New York. Cost for the 1 week bootcamp is ~4,500-$5,000 USD.
- Sample Client List: Google, Experian, Bank of Ireland, HSBC
- Design Sprint Academy Bootcamp Page
XYZ Innovation Firm (your long-standing innovation/design firm of choice)
- Of course, you can also always consult your innovation or design firm of choice to either help administer design sprint training or facilitate a sprint.
- Pros: They presumably already know your business, strategy, and people. It can be easier to justify the expense to your leadership, investing in services from an existing partner relationship.
- Cons: They likely haven’t facilitated nearly as many design sprints or training workshops compared to the firms listed above. As a result, it’s quite possible that you get a lesser design sprint experience at a higher cost. If you are trying to get organizational buy-in for the design sprint process and your innovation/design firm doesn’t have the expertise to deliver a great experience, you may leave your organization with a bad impression of design sprints, making it much more difficult to secure leadership buy-in for future sprints.
OTHER (COST UNKNOWN)
- Sprint Conference – October 2nd – 3rd (San Francisco at Google)
- While I’ve become quite familiar with design thinking conferences, there have been very few conferences dedicated to design sprints. The biggest one I’m aware of is Sprint Conference hosted by Google. Last November was their first conference and I hear it was an amazing experience. Attendance to the conference is via invitation only.
- Link to the inaugural conference in 2017
- Great recap of the conference from Jay Melone
- E-mail contact for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
- DucoPlus by New Haircut
- New Haircut has something called Duco+ coming out. Not to be confused with the free Duco app, this appears to be a compelling design sprint training kit. Not much info exists on the kit but I’ll share more as details emerge.
- Link to Duco Plus
As always, please do let me know what other great design sprint resources I am missing! Also, check out my separate collection of design thinking tools & resources.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve made the decision to make a big investment in myself and have slated dedicated time to “go back to school” for design sprints training in the very near future. I’m looking forward to sharing back what I learn!
Until then, happy sprinting!