5 things to remember when running a design sprint

By Emera Trujillo

Design sprints are all the rage these days and with good reason.  As a flexible design framework, the design sprint can yield creative solutions that stakeholders & customers want.  Recently, Boston Women in Product organized a design sprint workshop run by the amazing team at Fresh Tilled Soil and hosted by ZipCarEvan Ryan, chief product officer at Fresh Tilled Soil and seasoned entrepreneur with over a decade of experience bringing products from concept to market, ran participants through a mini-design sprint, highlighting tips and pitfalls to avoid when executing, and recapped his top five tips for running an effective design sprint:

(1) Establish a common foundation

Establishing a shared understanding allows everyone involved to start the design sprint process on equal footing. Ryan shared that “starting from the same place is critical for any ideas that follow,” and it may be beneficial to take a few days to prep. If research needs to be conducted prior to the start of the design sprint, be sure to take that into consideration and share the results with your design sprint teammates before starting the sprint.

(2) Generate as many ideas as you can

A design sprint, “is all about the creation of ideas,” and in the Diverge phase, you’ll want to double down on ideation.  Use the concept behind the phrase, “Yes, and…” to keep the ideas flowing and prompt people to keep building on the ideas suggested.  As some participants in your design sprint may be inclined toward visualizing their ideas, encourage sketching exercises like 6 Ups and storyboarding and have paper and/or whiteboards handy so you’re ready when inspiration strikes.

(3) Then, get tough on those ideas

When it comes to the Converge phase, it’s time to hone in on a direction so you can get a prototype together. Remind your design sprint team that they need to be tough on ideas (and not on people).  This is a time to put ego aside and accept that your ideas will be challenged and rightly so.  You’ll need to focus on how to solve the problem you identified at the start of the design sprint and be open to feedback from the group.


(4) Perfection is not the goal

At the Boston Women in Product session, several participants indicated a desire to implement a design sprint at their organization.  Evan stressed that when running a design sprint on your own, “perfection is not the goal.”  There are plenty of resources available to help guide you through the design sprint process but if a particular facet doesn’t work for your organization or you need to modify the time frame – do so.  At it’s core, the design sprint framework is designed to be flexible and it can be beneficial to embrace that feature.

(5) Commit to change 

Regardless of the outcome of your design sprint – the prototype is a flop, a participant had to drop out – keep going. Continue to iterate on that idea, validating new assumptions, and seeking additional learnings.

Further Reading

For more tips on design sprints from Fresh Tilled Soil, check out their blog: https://www.freshtilledsoil.com/blog/.  A few favorites of Boston Women in Product are:

Emera Trujillo is a senior product manager at Visible Measures, an end-to-end solution for capturing consumer attention.



Boston Women in Product (BWP) is a community that empowers women to be influencers in their role inspiring them to make a difference and grow in their career. Our mission is to inspire, equip and help advance women in product by encouraging career leadership, development, support, mentoring, and building relationships with like-minded women. The BWP comes together throughout the year in local Boston area events. We gather women together to learn and affect one another in an open, casual setting. We aim to bring expertise from the product community and connect that with women striving to grow in their product career. Open to anyone interested in helping advance women in their product careers. We hope to see you at our next event.

To find out more visit https://www.meetup.com/Boston-Women-in-Product/


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