Season 1 | Episode 8: The Value of Design Sprints to Product Teams (with Steph Cruchon)

Steph Cruchon, the founder of Design Sprint Ltd. shares the benefits of Design Sprints to businesses.

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The Design Sprint is a 5-day process used to prototype and validate concepts aimed at addressing business challenges.

In this episode, we have a great conversation with Steph Cruchon who is the founder of Design Sprint Ltd. A Design agency geared at helping businesses conceptualize, prototype and test solutions before they are launched into the market.

He shares the amazing benefits Design Sprints bring to various companies, sharing how the results and impact can be measured by those looking to organize these sprints within their companies. 

Steph also pinpoints some major benefits Design Sprints can have in your company, one being the means by which you infuse innovation as a culture practised at scale all through the departments of your company.

This is one of those conversations you hear and immediately want to practice them with your internal team.

A Conversation with Robert Skrobe, Dallas Design Sprint

“If you’re going to approach a client with a solutions-first approach, you’re going to lose.”

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You have had extensive experience in User-Centred Design, how would you describe a product or service that is centred around users?

They typically favour metrics like adoption rates, usage and time spent.

What do you think about incorporating User-Centred Design and analytics for business pitches?

I don’t think it’s a good idea for two reasons.  One, you’re coming into the pitch with some information about their audiences that may or may not be true.  If you’re citing existing paid or free research, chances are they have direct data on their users and customers that are fresher and more relevant.

Two, you have to understand what their problems are before pitching solutions.  If you’re going to approach a client with a solutions-first approach, you’re going to lose.

“If you’re going to approach a client with a solutions-first approach, you’re going to lose.”

How would you say companies can innovate around their services in ways that bring value to them as a business and also to their customers?

By watching the customer, seeing what they do and making products or services that bring them value.

In the area of using customer feedback, how would you say teams can balance the insights gotten from the customer in building their solution? (you know Steve Jobs once said “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”)

It depends on where that team is positioned in the company and what purpose it’s serving.  If they’re in the product lifecycle, they have no shot of serving the customer, They serve the business and what their product managers and executive leaders ask of them.  If you’re on a team with direct access to users, customers and the people you serve (like sales, customer service and strategy), you can better position yourself to meet their needs.

What techniques are you currently using to drive innovative solutions within businesses and why?

Less process, faster execution. The murkier and more breakable the process, the happier my clients are these days. 

“Less process, faster execution.”

What industry can you say is yet to fully utilize the opportunities available in the design process and how can they go about leveraging on the opportunities?

Oil and gas.  I learned today that they are historically slow to adopt better and more efficient process, and their time is almost up.  I expect they’ll have to feel the pain before they move.

What #innovationmoment have you experienced in your career so far? (We define an #innovationmoment as something you’ve been a part of or have witnessed that has been incredibly life-changing and impactful to others) Can you share it?

That “User Experience”, as a term, is meaningless when the people that work in that discipline a) don’t have regular, direct access to the user and b) don’t influence their experiences at all.  UX is basically mass conceptualism at scale without any relevance to market impact in most businesses.

#innovationmoment

“That “User Experience”, as a term, is meaningless when the people that work in that discipline a) don’t have regular, direct access to the user and b) don’t influence their experiences at all. ”

A Conversation with Sabrina Goerlich, Innovation Facilitator, Design Sprint Studio

“Innovation is at the same time a mindset and natural behaviour.”

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Could you tell us what you do and what the Design Sprint is all about?

I run a design agency that has developed into an innovation consultancy since 2017. We support our customers in innovating faster and increasing their competitive advantage. With a focus on sports brands (sport is the passion of our team) we also work with a wide range of industries in our region.

My transformation from a Designer (when I started there was no UX at all) to UX Design and then to Strategic Design was made with the Design Sprint and therefore Design Thinking as well. Exploring the Design Sprint was like puzzle pieces that fit into the right gaps. It answered my questions about business design questions, handling clients and team collaboration. Design Sprint is a system to solve complex business challenges.

Within a week you go with a diverse team from a vague idea to a concept and get feedback from your customers. It helps to reduce the risk of investments, aligns the team, creates buy-in from stakeholders and enables a competitive advantage for companies – fast! Both Fortune 100 companies and start-ups are using the proven methodology. I use the methodology to support my clients with product innovation, business concepts and process improvements.

“Design Sprint is a system to solve complex business challenges. Within a week you go with a diverse team from a vague idea to a concept and get feedback from your customers. It helps to reduce the risk of investments, aligns the team, creates buy-in from stakeholders and enables a competitive advantage for companies – fast!”

You have worked with various teams across various industry, would you say the Design Sprint is suited for people in a particular team/industry or for everyone? And why?

But what I have learned, and what I have learned from my global community, is that the design sprint is a neutral innovation process that suits every industry – but not every problem. Good situations for a Design Sprint:

  1. Complex challenge
  2. New markets
  3. You have the decider (someone who has the power to foster the development of the concept)
  4. High risk to lose money
  5. Strong and innovative competitors
  6. Time pressure to innovate

“…what I have learned from my global community, is that the design sprint is a neutral innovation process that suits every industry – but not every problem.”

Today there are so many ways people view and define innovation, how would you define innovation?

Innovation is at the same time a mindset and natural behaviour. If you want to design innovation – with a team and sustainably, on a scale – you need a process. The Design Sprint is a perfect way to promote innovation at high speed.

“Innovation is at the same time a mindset and natural behaviour.”

Now, some people don’t see the connection between design and innovation, if you were to describe the connection how would you do it?

The connection of Design and Innovation involves more than shapes, forms and functionality. It’s a process to create solutions that meet the needs of people and can be anything from services, processes, business ideas or products (hardware or digital). The Design Sprint is a perfect process to develop innovations as it integrates the user perspective (desirability) as well as the business perspective (feasibility, viability). The attached illustration is from codomo.

“The connection of Design and Innovation involves more than shapes, forms and functionality. It’s a process to create solutions that meet the needs of people and can be anything from services, processes, business ideas or products (hardware or digital).”

As a facilitator who has helped product teams and innovation managers accelerate their innovation process, how would you say a company, in any industry can go about birthing and accelerating innovation in their teams and companies?

That’s a good question. I can think of a way like this

  1. Starting with a Discovery Sprint to identify different challenges in a company.
  2. Prioritize the challenges. There is a great tool to score possible Sprint projects: Sprintness
  3. Assemble a team with different perspectives and a decider (the one who can foster the development of the concept).
  4. Run a Design Sprint
  5. Integrate the Design Sprint as a way of innovation process in the company (with training and scaling). For enterprises there is an Enterprise Design Sprint as well.
  6. Don’t lose momentum and continue the focus. Develop the project or if the validation failed – start a new Design Sprint. 

What #innovationmoment have you experienced in your career so far? (We define an #innovationmoment as something you’ve been a part of or have witnessed that has been incredibly life-changing and impactful to others) Can you share?

In a virtual Design Sprint in 2019 I facilitated a group to develop a business concept for refugees in Kampala to work with international companies. It was an experiment and the prototype was validated. I was impressed by how we were able to work together across all kinds of borders. Now we are still looking for a pilot project to further develop the concept.

“…I facilitated a group to develop a business concept for refugees in Kampala to work with international companies. It was an experiment and the prototype was validated. I was impressed by how we were able to work together across all kinds of borders.”

#innovationmoment

“…I facilitated a group to develop a business concept for refugees in Kampala to work with international companies. It was an experiment and the prototype was validated. I was impressed by how we were able to work together across all kinds of borders.”