Set Expectations

Make it clear to everyone what to expect from the sprint.

Why should we do this exercise?

Without setting expectations before starting the sprint you may be presented with some very confused and concerned team members. Design sprints may not be familiar to the people on you team so it's important that they know what to expect before joining.


Send a message with a rough outline of the upcoming phases, and how much time each phase will take so that people can plan thier time. Encourage people to share when they may be unavailable, and to ask questions if they have them.

It's also helpful to summarise the following as part of the message you send:

Sometimes, design sprints converge on solutions that are partially or completely invalidated. Some things will have worked, and others won’t. Make sure everyone understands that the outcome falls in one of three buckets:

Most stuff worked

This often doesn’t happen during the first sprint on a project, but if it happens to you, everyone on the team is probably on the same page about the fixes and tweaks you need to make. What to do next: Take a week to tune your existing prototype. Create a backlog for developers to start implementation of the most important features or API integrations.

Some big questions

A common outcome after a user study is a mixed bag: a few hits, a few tweaks, and a couple of real head-scratchers. Fortunately Keynote prototypes are easy to change, and as long as some parts of your design are solid, you can probably build on what you have. What to do next: You can move fast on the tweaks, but you’ll want to come up with multiple solutions for the bigger problems. Start your next sprint at step 2 (diverge).

Everything exploded

We’ve seen a lot of designs go up in flames, and that’s OK. You learned that something didn’t work, and it only took you a few hours to build it. This is great progress, and very cheap relative to building and launching a full product. Think what would have happened if you’d spent weeks or months implementing this solution! What to do next: Start your next sprint back at the drawing board with step 1 (understand). (Hint: the results of this study are perfect fodder for reviewing and building understanding as a group.)