Design is not only Design sprint. It is a marathon

Jonathan Scanzi

Jonathan Scanzi

10 June 2020

2 min read

How I use to say, Design is a state of mind. It is a way to solve a problem with creatives solutions. Nowadays, a lot of people and organizations embrace this methodology on their projects. You probably heard about the concept of Design Sprint invented by Google Ventures and spread out by Jake Knapp with his book and AJ&Smart with their articles and Youtube videos. Since then, it seems that Design spreads around the world, in every team. It is a good thing, in my opinion. But, for two years now, it seems that Design equals Design Sprint in people’s minds. No, Design is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

What is a Design sprint?

The concept is to run all the steps of the design process in five days to solve a specific problem. You do this with a small team, most of the time. It is an excellent way to help people discover the methodology quickly and by making their hands dirty. It is very ”trendy” this time in a lot of organizations.

Let’s get back to the concept of velocity in Design

The concept of velocity relates to the idea that you have to iterate quickly with your users to find the right concept to develop. The Design sprint methodology used that principle. Once we clarify that, you also need to know that Design consumes time and resources. Here is why:

Building your team takes time

Design is collaborative and works better with a multidisciplinary team. You seek people with complementary skills, who fit with the Design approach and are ready to get into it. It takes time to find that kind of person, but they are conditioning the project’s success.

The concept of velocity relates to the idea that you have to iterate quickly with your users to find the right concept to develop.

Talk to your users with a long term approach

Talking to users is not just about one or two interviews that you can do in less than a few hours. Design is about building a community. Create confidence takes time, and that’s what it’s about in a user-centered approach. Understand a state of mind is hard, and you need to immerse yourself in the user’s life. You can’t do that quickly. Once again, it would be best if you created confidence first.

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Don’t forget to count the time to analyze

Talking to users is excellent. Once you get their feedback, you have to analyze it. When you come back from an exploration phase, you often have hours of records interview, pages of notes, and so on. Please don’t underestimate this time. In consulting, we count the same amount of time to collect and analyze.

Multiple iterations

You won’t find the right solution for the first try. It means that you will iterate a lot between the prototyping and the test phase. You could also make a pivot and completely change your direction. That’s something we always underestimate in a design process.

Shipping fast is great, shipping good is better

In the startup industry, we are obsessed with shipping products and features as fast as possible. We always talk about the idea of “quick and dirty” and the concept of MVP (Minimum Valuable Product). But rules have changed, in my opinion.

Nowadays, we can use a thousand great products for free. People now have higher expectations. Is it better to ship less, but perfect things? Yes, we think. But building great products and services takes time. To conclude, I would say that Design is a sprint and a marathon; it depends on the context and progress in the process.

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