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What after a Design Sprint: from prototype to product



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4 minutes


Pieterjan Uytterhoeven


The first step is being aware of what a Design Sprint is and how it is conducted. Next up? Knowing the problems a Design Sprint can solve. And, after all, now it's time to have a look at the question 'What after a Design Sprint'?

What after a Design Sprint? The basics.

If you're looking for what to do after a Design Sprint, you should always come back to what a Design Sprint is truly meant for: validating an idea in 1 week. Therefore, in order to move from idea to reality, the key lies in execution! More specifically, execution without losing the pragmatic approach offered by the unique formula.

In the product management cycle, the goal is to bring value to the market keeping in mind the risk appetite of the company. Product development is a tedious and expensive process and hence it is often welcome to mitigate the risk along the way. In the go-to market strategy, minimizing the risk of failure is key. The recent developments in User Experience research and design help us in that regard.

From idea to prototype

When we move from an idea to a product, we pass different hoops to get to a working solution. A first nuance is to be made between validating and verifying a solution.

Validating the idea

In ‘lean-startup jargon’, we say that the qualitative research. This is often performed as a series of 5 to 7 semi-structured interviews per personas, only validates the idea. That means we have 70% certainty that for a very specific persona, we cover the risk. We have to keep in mind that it is a rather small input sample and that we risk the human biases known to qualitative researchers and their subjects. In most cases, if well performed and resulting in clear conclusions, it is considered sufficient to move forward.

Verifying the solution

If, on the contrary, we feel like further minimizing the risk, we can perform quantitative analysis on a larger sample, e.g. in the form of a survey. This is what we call verifying the solution. It's a slower and more expensive process and therefore, this stage is often skipped.

Having covered the basics, the next step after a Design Sprint often depends two factors. Firstly, there is the outcome of the Sprint itself and secondly, there is the risk appetite of the company.

  • If the results are unanimous and positive, you can continue with the proposal below.
  • In case the results are unanimous yet not positive, you can try to overdo the last two days of the Design Sprint, keeping the new insights in mind.
  • If, on the contrary, the results of the testing are not unanimous, you should take a step back. You should review the personas and evaluate what can you can salvage from your Design Sprint. Mistakes happen and are, in a learning culture, even embraced and shared.

From prototype to MVP

Go or no-go?

Moving on! What after a Design Sprint (after positive results), or moving from a validated idea to a solution in production. Obviously, the first step is to update the prototype based on user feedback and extend the prototype. How? Towards a full-functioning prototype that not only covers the main functionality, but all features needed to talk about a real MVP. Once this is done, depending on how drastic & risky the changes have been, another round of interviews can be helpful. Afterwards, it’s time for a go/no-go decision.

Does the company believe in the new prototype and is it ready to move it into a final product development phase? Congratulations!

Once the go/no-go decision is made, it’s a good time, if you haven’t already, to check in with the stakeholders that are your gatekeepers for marketing your solution, such as legal, compliance and security.

Defining the MVP scope

Next, the prototype needs to be further developed into its full, yet minimal glory, to be considered as a true Minimal Viable Product. The minimal in MVP is defined as a design from you which you cannot subtract any further element before the product becomes useless. Viable stands for the fact that it covers the minimal features to solve the target problem.

At this stage, we should ask ourselves again if any further qualitative or quantitative research is required. Whether to minimize risks or whether the risk is well within the risk appetite of the company. 

Once validated, we can move the prototype in production. For a digital product or service, we highly recommend Agile processes such as Scrum or Kanban for the development phase. They keep the emphasis on the value in short time boxes. First, they allow the product team to go with intermediary products to the end-users. Second, they're helpful to prepare a soft launch or small batch of production prototypes to go to the market. 

Let's market!

Finally, going to the market is an experience itself. Depending on the product or service, communication is required. Look into small or soft launches to test first with a small group of people and further iterate the product if possible. No product is perfect from day one and in a company with a strong learning culture, this principle is even championed by both developers and management. 

'What after a Design Sprint'? In a nutshell.

In a nutshell: a Design Sprint is meant to act and learn at a fast pace. Try to keep this rhythm and mindset in order to guarantee a fast go-to market approach.

Also try to remain in a learning mindset by continually collecting feedback from end-users.

That will, on the one hand make your current value proposition stronger. On the other hand, it will guide you to new ideas, solutions and markets towards durable future. 

Completed a successful Design Sprint, but not sure what's next? Let's meet to answer the question 'What after a Design Sprint?

about the author

Pieterjan Uytterhoeven

Pieterjan Uytterhoeven is Business Innovation Analyst at The Value Hub. He focusses on innovation and transformation trajectories where he connects the business, IT and senior management departments. Both on startup and enterprise level as in the public sector, he managed to realize a mindset switch towards design thinking principles and co-creation. Pieterjan always aims for supported and sustainable collaborations and solutions where processes can run autonomously and continue to evolve after his departure.

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