5 Myths About Design Sprints and The Realities Behind Them

A look at common misconceptions about Design Sprints.

Design sprints have received lots of attention over the past few years, and for good reason. Design Sprints represent a process that serves as a catalyst for innovation and improved collaboration within almost any company.

But there is also quite a bit of misinformation out there about Design Sprints, including some persistent myths that just don't seem to quite ever go away. Here is a look at some of the biggest we have heard and the realities behind them.

Myth: Design Sprints Work for Small Teams Only

Hardly. It was Google who initially pioneered the process and the last thing you could call them is small. The fact is that some of the largest companies in the world - everyone from IBM to AARP, Home Depot and more regularly incorporate design sprints into their design processes in order to help them ensure they remain as nimble and relevant as possible.

Myth: Only Designers Should Be Involved in Design Sprints

That's actually the opposite of what a design sprint is supposed to do. The idea is to allow as many voices as possible to be heard, including the voices of those who might not be involved in the design process at all on a regular basis. The collaborative spirit they create encourages the use of new thinking and input and you certainly don't have to be formally trained in design to come up with great ideas.

Myth: Design Sprints Should Be Applied to Solve Any Problem

Not exactly. In general, they are best utilized to help solve challenges that are having a medium to high impact and are calling for some different thinking. As they do help teams explore what might be possible, and look to the future, they are helpful in a great many situations, but not always for routine work.

Myth: The Only People Who Benefit From Design Sprints are Design Teams

Again, the opposite is true. A design sprint helps to clear away much of the mystery of design for the non-designers to help them understand the processes far more clearly. Once they do they can feel more confident about chiming in, expressing their ideas and becoming a fully functioning and contributing part of the process.

In fact, it's often the design sprints that do involve non-designers that are some of the most successful. A diversity of experience, opinion and thought processes can not only help improve the product in question but that spirit can be nurtured and built into the company culture, resulting in improvements all around.

Myth: After the Last Formal Phase of a Design Sprint You're Done

The truth is that a design sprint is not a magic trick. They can certainly do a great deal to help an organization learn fast. But collecting insights, compiling notes, and capturing experimental data after a design sprint is critical to know what to do next.

Now let's have a brief look at some more truths. Design sprints represent a framework that can spark innovative collaboration for companies of any size or of any age. They are not just something for tiny startups to consider, they work for large companies - even huge corporations - as well. They’re being implemented by the most forward-thinking companies, both big and small and helping them stay ahead of the game and their products remain relevant. And they are something you should really consider learning a lot more about now.

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