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This is how you succeed with a remote Design Sprint

The Design Sprint is a great method when you want to test a new idea, solve a challenge or kick off an innovation project. But what do we do now that we can no longer gather in front of a whiteboard full of post-its? Does a design sprint work remotely?

For those of you who don't have a full grasp of what we're talking about, the design sprint is a popular method, developed at Google, where we go from problem to solution in just one week. At the end of the week, we validate the solution (usually in the form of an interactive prototype) by testing it with real customers or end users. Here is everything about how it is done remotely.

Running a design sprint completely remotely makes slightly different demands on setup and facilitation, but also offers advantages. Mattias and Sophie, UX designers at Osynlig, tell more and share tips and lessons learned.

Porträttbilder på Sophie och Mattias på Osynlig

"The arrangement becomes more flexible remotely. It makes it easier for the sprint to actually happen," say Sophie and Mattias, UX designers at Osynlig.

Does it work to carry out a design sprint completely remotely?

  • Design sprints work very well when run remotely because there is such a clear structure to the plan. But it becomes even more important to have clear communication, and a structure for which communication channels apply, when everyone is sitting in front of their own screen, says Mattias.

  • An advantage is that the arrangement becomes more flexible when everyone does not have to be in the same room at the same time. For example, you can spread the sprint over several days. Otherwise, a common obstacle to achieving a good sprint is that it is difficult to free up time from key people in the organization. It is much easier to involve more people when we carry out the sprint remotely, Mattias continues.

  • Something we have learned is that a clearer division of roles is required when we work remotely, it is easier for misunderstandings to occur when you are not sitting next to each other. Therefore, it is wise to spend a little extra time at the beginning of the sprint and go through who is responsible for what, says Sophie.

How do you keep the commitment up?

  • Yes, it's not quite the same feeling and community at a distance as when everyone is in the same room, unfortunately. I think it is an advantage not to be too many, not least so that everyone can see each other properly in the video meeting. 10 small squares on a screen do not really give a sense of presence. Better to split into smaller groups in that case. A tip is also to have a chat channel running throughout the week, play music to get the mood going and remember to plan proper breaks. And test the technology thoroughly beforehand so that everyone knows how the tools work, says Mattias.

What tools do you recommend?

  • Some form of video meeting, of course (we have run Google Meet). As I said, a chat channel is also good, Slack for example. Miro (digital whiteboard) is a good collaboration tool, a plus is that it is possible to play video directly in the tool. Figma for design and prototype. One tip is to prepare as much as possible, for example, design elements, colors and more, says Sophie.

Tips for a remote design sprint

  1. Test the technique

    Run a technology walkthrough with everyone before the sprint, including those who will be doing usability testing, so everyone knows how the tools work.
  2. Clearer communication

    Spend more time sorting out questions and limitations before building the prototype. Clearer communication and more reconciliation points are required when working remotely, than when sitting close together.
  3. Take advantage of the flexibility

    Take advantage of the flexibility that comes with running remote. Depending on the challenge and the group, it may be better to spread the sprint over several days, and involve more people in certain stages, for example.
  4. Spend time on the sprint questions

    Spend a lot of time on the sprint questions at the beginning. What do we want to do and why? Is it the right problem we are solving and does everyone have the same definition of it? It sets the direction for the whole week. This also applies when the design sprint is not remote.
  5. Decide the next step

    Last but not least, set aside time to summarize and decide the next steps after the sprint. How do we take what we have learned further? What will be concrete actions? What do we need to move forward?

What to try a design sprint for yourself? Get in touch.

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Want to know more?

Talk to Pablo Dunovits, XD Director