Design Sprint is one of the most effective ways to drive customer-first decision making that helps answer business questions, define product direction, build team culture and assist organizations figure out their strategy. Having worked on 50+ Sprints, we have seen it working successfully for industries, people as well as for multi experience.

The pandemic crisis has accelerated the digital adoption for going virtual, so the need arises about how Design Sprints can be run smoothly (remember smoothly is a key differentiator here!) while remote. Team composition, involving stakeholders and deciding on the business challenge are central in any design sprint preparation.
In a remote Design Sprint, additional preparations include setting up tools and communication channels.

Remote Design Sprints can be a huge success but only if successfully translated into a format that works well remotely. How to arrive at insights that deepen customer relationships?

Varun Jagotta

Illustrations

Ruby Kaur

Words

Let's first dive into the advantages of running a remote Design Sprint.

  • More flexibility as team location and availability are not an issue
  • More efficient, fully digital
  • Capturing ideas is much easier, faster with less focus on ownership
  • Facilitators can provide more tools to help others, monitor participant progress and coaching can be discreet
  • Quicker sessions and more focus to manage group dynamics better

For organizations that are already running partial remote design sprints for conducting online research interviews with stakeholders and customers and for prototyping to online user tests, it is easy to make the jump to a fully remote Design Sprint.

3 Factors that determine better outcomes

1. Correct preparation and onboarding

Just as setting up an in-person workshop with all the necessary materials, similarly there is a need to set up the workspace, test tools and generally make sure that everyone can get started with little or no friction. Framing the workshop's purpose can make a huge difference.

The onboarding phase is critical as it sets up the base for the entire collaboration allowing to understand the challenges better, diffuse any conflict and anxiety earlier and manage the expectation of the participant making the whole experience pleasant.

2. Right choice of tools

There is a whole lot of choice of awesome tools to communicate and collaborate and there is a need to gauge the most appropriate for each situation depending on factors like accessibility and use. Make sure to take these into consideration and have alternatives as back-up.

3. Facilitation

It is very important to have a strong facilitator for an online Design Sprint who sets the rules and pace of the workshop ensuring clarity and time for each task. Chat functions can be used to ask questions and the facilitator can read and answer them for the whole group.

Best practices/checklist for onboarding

The onboarding process should be done in advance; at least a week before the sprint.

  • Talk to the Decider or Product Owner to get as much information about the problem/challenge
  • Know who the participants are as soon as possible
  • Send an onboarding message to all participants welcoming them, introducing the team and an overview of project’s timeline
  • Provide link to an online scheduling tool/survey for a brief interview with individual team members
  • Use insights from interviews to populate online workspace saving time and help get started
  • Brief the participants on the workshop and communication tools
  • Run a quick overview of the Sprint process along with expected outcomes

Get them excited to Get Started!

Raise the Curtain, It's Showtime!

Here are a few tips to make the remote Design Sprint successful

Use Digital Whiteboards as Workspace:
Lots of great tools are available but the important thing to consider here is that all participants should be able to see and interact with each other and contribute in real-time making collaboration tangible.

Prepare the Workspace
Take time to properly prepare the workspace as the entire workshop centers on the digital whiteboard. Use the insights of the interview to populate the workspace with How Might We (HMW’s), Can We’s, Goals and Map. Over time, this can be used as a template, saving a lot of work in future.

Structure your workshop
Create separate frames for each part of the workshop and each exercise. This gives the participants a sense of accomplishment as they gradually move from one frame to the next.

Keep remote workshops shorter
Lengthy screen time can be exhausting and stands a chance of losing focus.

Encourage participants to switch on their webcams
Makes it easy to determine the level of engagement, see if any participant is confused, lightens up the mood and is generally fun!

Facilitating Online Design Sprints

Break the ice
Warm ups act as ice breakers and encourage participants to explore the workspace and tools before the actual workshop begins.

Start with a populated Workspace
It is a lot easier for participants to add to existing information and immediately builds up rapport and trust with the team.

Consolidate all chosen ideas
Storyboards help map out the greater details and align everybody on the same page.

Keep the energy going. You’re almost there!
Once the discovery workshop is over, the team is ready to covert chosen ideas into a high-fidelity, interactive, testable prototype and share it with users. Document and summarize the results of the Sprint with clear insights and next steps.

Create stronger bonds with your team to solve problems creatively and drive innovation

Remote Design Sprints work well and are as effective as regular Design Sprints. With a workspace, communication tools set up and a variety of factors taken in, get ready to step up the Sprint Game!
Design Sprint at Intelligaia is a 1 week process to turn your idea into a clickable prototype that people can test.

What challenge needs remote solving in your organization? Let's organize your design sprint now!

Step up the Sprint Game for remote collaboration to accelerate innovation

Varun Jagotta

Illustrations

Ruby Kaur

Words