AJ&Smart’s Design Sprint Masterclass

It’s official. The Accidental Design Thinker is going back to school… design sprint school with Design Sprint Masterclass!

Where am I going for my studies? – Online, in partnership with Berlin-based design sprint firm AJ&Smart. After spending a month exploring a broad range of design sprint training options, I finally made the decision to enroll in AJ&Smart’s newly created Design Sprint Masterclass.

When do I start? – Now! I plan to spend the next few weekends fully committing myself to learning the ins and outs of the updated 2.0 version of the design sprint, a 4 day version of Google Ventures’ 5-day design sprint approach.

As luck would have it, I’ll also be planning a 3 week white-space innovation “sprint” workshop at work, while taking Design Sprint Masterclass. Compared to a GV design sprint, my white-space innovation “sprint” will be heavier on the upfront consumer empathy work and more rigorous on prototype user feedback. However, it will also be much more time and resource intensive.

As I participate in Design Sprint Masterclass, I’ll be keen to determine how I might leverage the design sprint approach to significantly reduce (and potentially eliminate) the resources required for my white-space innovation “sprint”. It will be great to have a real work example to reflect on as I dive into Masterclass.

Design Thinking Teamwork

Out of all the things I could be doing, why am I dedicating time for design sprint school?

As a marketer, innovator, and design thinker, I believe that mastery of the design sprint process may be the most important skill I develop this year.

Why do I believe that? I believe:

Design sprints can help my organization to win

  • At their worst, well-conducted design sprints are mechanisms for failing fast (and cheap) and learning faster. At their best, design sprints can deliver breakthrough innovations ranging from solutions to vexing societal challenges, to market-leading consumer products.

Design sprints can activate tenets of design thinking, in a repeatable way

  • Every design sprint conducted and every win achieved, helps to further hone and validate the overall design sprint process. Design sprints offers design thinkers a codified, proven process for activating elements of design thinking in a very tangible and quick fashion.

There’s a shortage of design sprint masters, a void I would personally love to fill

  • The proven success and emergence of design sprints, combined with the shortage of design sprint facilitators, has fueled my desire to become a leading sprint master within my own organization. As a design thinking practitioner, I believe I already have a strong foundation to become an effective sprint master.

My hope is that the Design Sprint Masterclass helps to rapidly accelerate my proficiency and confidence in becoming a design sprint master.

Why did I choose AJ&Smart’s Design Sprint Masterclass?

It took me much longer than expected to find my ideal design sprint training program. The options I found were either too expensive/time consuming (i.e. flying to another city to spend a couple of days for in-person training) or too surface level for the depth of training I sought.

Originally, my top-choice was in-person training from AJ&Smart but limited time and budget made this option tricky. They also have an online course through Udacity although that course didn’t go as deep into content as I wanted.

I was stuck in neutral until AJ&Smart launched Design Sprint Masterclass in mid-May this year. Masterclass appears to be the perfect mix, offering the same level of content (robust) as in-person training (at a fraction of the cost), and allowing me to fit the training into my own schedule.

The biggest selling points that led me to enroll in AJ&Smart’s Masterclass:

  • Learning From the Best: I wanted to learn from the best. While determining who’s “the best” is fully subjective, there were a number of factors that led me to conclude that AJ&Smart is the authority in design sprints. These factors include:
    • AJS’s very close partnership with Jake Knapp (author of ‘Sprint’)
    • The fact that their firm is solely focused on design sprints and has a blue-chip client list
    • The high quality of their YouTube video content on design sprints and some of the great content that they’ve written
  • Having Fun While Learning: Great learning comes from teachers who know how to engage their students. Based on their YouTube videos, I believe AJ&Smart design sprinters are super engaging, informative, and entertaining.
  • Robust Training & Facilitator Materials: AJ&Smart advertises that they provide Masterclass students with the exact same training materials they use for their in-person workshops. Additionally, they provide the actual training slidedecks and templates they use with their clients, ranging from facilitator checklists, to user recruitment guides, to presenter slides. I want to use these tools to not only train myself, but also to train a team of sprint masters within my organization.
  • Lifetime Access to Course Content and a Dedicated Design Sprint Community: Students have lifetime access to all course content and any updates to the course. They also have access to a private Facebook community dedicated for course participants. In the past, I’ve been burned by other online courses that offered only limited time access to the content or taught outdated content.
  • Securing “Street Cred”: AJ&Smart provides a Design Sprint 2.0 Masterclass Certificate for students who complete the course. As I seek to lead design sprints in my organization, I want to have the credibility of acknowledgement from a leading design sprint authority, backing me up.
  • Accelerated Learning: AJ&Smart estimates that “you can complete the course and be ready to facilitate your first Sprint within 2 weekends, without stress”. Very compelling if accurate. I have the next couple of weekends blocked off… I’ll report back what I find.

It’s time for me to go back to school. Interested in joining me in Design Sprint Masterclass?

Design Sprint Masterclass Collaboration

I absolutely can’t wait to begin this class. I’m already imagining myself as the design sprint guru within my organization and a more versatile design thinker in general.

If you’re considering participating but on the fence, try AJ&Smart’s free 1.5 hour webcast class to get a feel for their teaching style and content. This particular class focuses on tips for running a design sprint business as a facilitator or a consultant.

(Special Hint: if you are remotely interested in signing up for Masterclass, it’s definitely worth sticking around until the end of the online class 😊)

Otherwise, I’ll be posting a full review of Design Sprint Masterclass in a couple of weeks, after I finish the program.

Hope to see you all in design sprint school and happy sprinting!

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