Sprint – Jake Knapp

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days – by Jake Knapp
Date read: 5/28/17. Recommendation: 8/10.

Targeted to those working in technology, but useful lessons that can be applied more broadly. The authors pioneered their own rapid sprint process at Google Ventures. The book documents, step-by-step, the best way to examine, prototype, and test new ideas with customers, in a single week. The faster you can test out a new idea out and gather real feedback, the better. Great framework for creative problem solving, no matter what project or initiative you're working on.

See my notes below or Amazon for details and reviews.


my notes:

The sprint is Google Venture's unique five-day process for answering crucial questions through prototyping and testing ideas with customers. It's a "greatest hits" of business strategy, innovation, behavioral science, design, and more–packaged into a step-by-step process that any team can use.

Monday: Make a map, choose a target. Tuesday: Sketch competing solutions. Wednesday: Decide on the best. Thursday: Build a realistic prototype. Friday: Test with target customers.

Solve the surface first:
The surface is important. It's where your product or service meets customers. Human beings are complex and fickle, so it's impossible to predict how they'll react to a brand-new solution. When our new ideas fail, it's usually because we were overconfident about how well customers would understand and how much they would care.

Get that surface right, and you can work backward to figure out the underlying systems or technology. Focusing on the surface allows you to move fast and answer big questions before you commit to execution, which is why any challenge, no matter how large, can benefit from a sprint.

Fragmentation hurts productivity.

Longer hours don't equal better results.

If you're looking at a screen (laptop, phone, etc.), you're not paying attention to what's going on in the room, so you won't be able to help the team. What's worse, you're unconsciously saying, "This work isn't interesting."

Imagine you've gone forward in time one year, and your project was a disaster. What caused it to fail? Lurking beneath every goal are dangerous assumptions.

*An important part of this is rephrasing assumptions and obstacles into questions.
Q: To reach new customers what has to be true? A: They have to trust our experience.
Q: How can we phrase that as a question? A: Will customers trust our experience?

Turning these potential problems into questions makes them easier to track–and easier to answer with sketches, prototypes, and tests. Also creates a subtle shift from uncertainty (which is uncomfortable) to curiosity (which is exciting)

Map the challenge:
Map should be simple, include only the major steps required for customers to move from beginning to completion.

Each map is customer-centric, with a list of key actors on the left. Each map is a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Keep it between 5-15 steps.

How Might We's: take notes in the form of a question, beginning with the words "How might we...?" (How might we re-create the cafe experience? How might we ensure coffee arrives fresh? How might we structure key info for screening patients? How might we streamline discussion with outside doctors? How might we make reviewing electronic medical records faster?)

Lightning Demos:
Team takes turn giving three-minute tours of their favorite solutions from other products/different domains, etc.

Finding Customers (for prototype/interviews):
-Recruit customers through Craigslist (post a generic ad with a link to a screener survey)
-Recruit customers through your network

Best opening scene for your prototype will boost the quality of your test (can help customers forget they're trying a prototype and react to your product in a natural way)

The trick is to take one or two steps upstream from the beginning of the actual solution you want to test...How do customers find out your company exists?

It's almost always a good idea to present your solution alongside the competition. As a matter of fact, you can ask customers to test out your competitors' products on Friday right alongside your own prototype.

When in doubt take risks, sprint is great for testing risky solutions that might have  a huge payoff.

"Prototype" mindset – it isn't a real product, it just needs to appear real.

Interview customers and learn by watching them react to your prototype.

After you've recruited and carefully selected participants for your test who match the profile of your target customer.
-Why five people? 85% of problems are observed after just five people.
-Testing with more people doesn't lead to many more insights - just a lot more work.
-The number of findings quickly reaches the point of diminishing returns.
-When 2-3 people out of 5 have the same strong reaction, positive or negative, you should pay attention.

One-on-one interviews are a remarkable shortcut. They allow you to test a facade of your product, long before you've build the real thing.

Offer important insight that's nearly impossible to get with large-scale quantitative data: why things work or don't work.

Remind the customer that you're testing the prototype, not her.
-"There are no right and wrong answers. Since I didn't design this, you won't hurt my feelings or flatter me. In fact, frank, candid feedback is the most helpful."

NOT: "Now that you've seen the site, would you be ready to sign up now, or do you need more information?"
YES: "Now that you've seen the site, what are you thinking?" (after answer, "why is that?)

DON'T ask multiple choice or yes/no questions (would you, do you, is it?)
DO ask "Five Ws and One H" questions

You can also learn a lot by just remaining quiet. Don't always feel compelled to fill the silence with conversation.

Being in a curiosity mindset means being fascinated by your customers and their reactions.
-Always ask "why?"

Once you've run your test an identified patterns, look back at your sprint questions. This will help you decide which patterns are most important, and also point you toward next steps.

Instead of jumping right into solutions, take your time to map out the problem and agree on the initial target. Start slow so you can go fast.

Instead of shouting out ideas, work independently to make detailed sketches of possible solutions.

Adopt the prototype mindset so you can learn quickly.

Test your prototype with target customers and get their honest reactions.