28 Goof-Ups That Can Derail Your Design Sprint

Keep these 28 tips handy

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I have heard this a lot, “I goofed up my Design Sprint”.
It’s an amazing process that can do wonders if done right. But things can go downhill equally fast if you're new to the concept or just not prepared for that one troublemaker in the room! Here are lessons from the trenches after running 50+ Design Sprints and learning from one goof-up at a time...

Robin Dhanwani
Founder, Parallel

Learn what can go wrong during your Design Sprint

So you want to run a Design Sprint?

Yay! 😄 Design Sprints are an awesome way to innovate quickly and confidently, backed with real user feedback. They have been used by companies like Uber, Slack, Blue Bottle Coffee and Coca-Cola to move fast without breaking things. However, running a sprint isn't as easy as downloading a sprint schedule and following all the exercises.

We've been running Design Sprints for 6 years now, and we've seen everything go wrong. Whether it's the Decider walking out an hour into the sprint, a troublemaker who revels in the word "NO" or sketches that would embarrass a toddler, we're here to help you avoid problems that will tank your sprint.

This guide breaks down the top 28 mistakes you can make in a Design Sprint, why they happen, and how you can avoid them.

Who is this guide for?

If you're facilitating a Design Sprint, this guide is for you. That includes external sprint facilitators (like us) who run sprints for other teams, or people who want to organise a sprint for their own organisation.

This guide is organised by the original five-day Design Sprint 1.0 schedule, but everything also applies to the four-day Design Sprint 2.0 process. The key difference is that voting on a solution and storyboarding happens on Tuesday with the 2.0 schedule and Wednesday with the 1.0 schedule.

What's a Design Sprint?

You probably already know this, since you're about to start a Design Sprint? (Riiiight? 🤨)

A Design Sprint is a five-day process where a diverse team works together to understand, prototype and test their solution for a big business problem. If the solution is a winner, it goes straight into product development.

The Design Sprint framework helps teams quickly identify the right problems to solve and test their solution through rapid prototyping and user feedback. Within a week, teams can move from an abstract idea to a high-fidelity prototype tested with real users. It's efficient, quick and easy on the budget.

Looking for more information?
Check out Google Venture's guide to the Design Sprint framework

Watch a Design Sprint in action