Design Sprints


This is a guest post by the lovely Anja Mayr, senior UX Researcher for smart Helios, a digital innovation lab for Europe’s biggest private hospital group. She has been working as Service & UX Designer/Researcher and Innovation Consultant in digital product development & agencies for the past 7+ years. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Hopes and Fears, as described by Yaël in her post, is a great exercise for kicking off workshops and design sprints. It sets the stage by bringing out everyone’s expectations – aspirations and concerns alike, and helps us address and keep in mind these points throughout the journey.

One fun way to make this exercise more memorable and establish even better understanding among participants, is using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) facilitation method. Yes, this means playing with Lego bricks, or, more precisely: thinking with your hands!

The sound of deafening silence rang all around me. 20 pairs of eyes were bearing into my soul and I was frozen. My brain was racing as I tried to make my mouth say something, anything…

Yes, if I was to write a terrible version of my life memoir, that might be the opening paragraph to the chapter involving how I ran the world’s worst design workshop. It was my very first time running one and I’ll be frank: I had no clue what I was doing. I hadn’t prepared at all. Funny how it was a disaster eh?

Running a workshop or design sprint with your cross-functional team can be one of the most worthwhile uses of your time.

Nothing beats getting everybody in the same room, problem-solving and working together. There is no faster way I know of to clear up assumptions, debate a variety of viewpoints, and grow empathy for other parts of the design + build process that you may not be involved in than a good old face-to-face working session.

However, getting all that goodness out of your workshop or sprint is predicated on the idea that everybody in the room is willing to be open and collaborative. If there is some hostility to the idea of your sprint, nervousness or anxiety about the meeting, or other floating elephants in the room, you won’t get the most out of your workshop.

To combat this, one way I like to kick a stakeholder workshop off is by using Hopes and Fears.