Book Summary: Sprint

Like the writers Knapp, Zeratsky, and Kowitz, you want to boost productivity, as evidenced by your reading this synopsis.

We can all keep track of our activities, attempt to figure out the optimal time to do certain things, figure out when we're in the "zone" for creativity. There are numerous methods to make a to-do checklist!

Knapp and his colleagues at Google Ventures (GV) focused on improving team processes: how can we collaborate more effectively?

When this was combined with their duties at GV and their goal of finding the next greatest thing, the notion of Sprints was born.

It's difficult to come up with good ideas. This is true whether you're operating a business, teaching a class, or working for a major corporation.

Sprints can help you in your hunt. This book is a do-it-yourself method to find interesting ideas by running your own sprint.

  • On Monday, you'll sketch out the problem and choose a key area to concentrate on.
  • On Tuesday, you'll make a paper drawing of competing options.
  • You'll have to make tough decisions on Wednesday and put your thoughts into a tested hypothesis.
  • You'll knock out a practical prototype on Thursday.
  • On Friday, you'll put it to the test with actual people.

Addressing the Challenge

A busy female staff overcoming challenges as she is busy multitasking.

There is no difficulty too great for a sprint.

The sprint, for starters, compels your team to concentrate on the most critical issues.

Second, the sprint allows you to get knowledge from only the surface of a completed product. The surface is crucial. It's the point at which your product or service interacts with customers.

Because humans are complicated and unpredictable, it's hard to know how they respond to a novel solution.

When our new ideas fail, it's typically because we were overconfident in our clients' ability to comprehend and care about them. Once you've nailed the surface, you may go backward to determine the underlying processes or technologies.

Picking the Roster

Ocean's Eleven is a fantastic film.

In the film, Danny Ocean assembles a gang of hardened criminals for a once-in-a-lifetime theft. A sprint mirrors that meticulously planned crime.

You and your team put your skills, time, and energy to good use by taking on a significant project and overcoming every hurdle that comes your way. You'll need the perfect crew to pull it off.

A sprint squad of seven or fewer people, according to Knapp, is optimum.

When there are eight or more people in a sprint, the pace slows down, and you'll have to push more to make everyone engaged and productive.

Everything is simpler when there are seven or fewer people.

Here are some team member recommendations from Knapp:

  • Finance master who can clarify where the money originates (and where it goes).
  • Your company's statements are crafted by a marketing specialist.
  • Customer service professional that speaks with your customers one-on-one regularly.
  • Who better knows what your organization can produce and deliver than a tech or logistics expert?
  • Professional in product design for your company's products.

Add The Troublemaker, the clever individual with strong, opposing views. Their irrational solution to the situation could well be correct. Even if it's incorrect, having a dissident viewpoint encourages everyone else to do a greater job.

The Decider is the roster's last member. These Deciders usually have a thorough understanding of the problem. They frequently have strong opinions and criteria to assist in determining the best solution.

That's a huge red signal if your Decider doesn't think the sprint or goal is valuable. You could be working on the incorrect project. Bide your time, chat to the Decider, and decide which large task is the better option.

Monday - Day 1

Monday starts with a goal-setting activity, with an eye toward the sprint week's finish and beyond. What questions would be answered if you could skip ahead to the finish of your sprint?

"What is the purpose of this project? In six months, a year, or perhaps even five years, where do we want to be?"

Your aim should represent the values and goals of your team. The sprint method will assist you in determining a decent starting point and making actual progress toward even the most ambitious objective.

Write your long-term aim at the top of the board once you've decided. It will remain a beacon during the race to keep everybody heading in the same direction.

The Customer Journey Map

A woman making a payment with her card after going through a customer journey from looking at the product.

Customers will be seen traveling through your service or product on the Customer Journey Map.

The map will help you focus your broad problem into a focused sprint goal. It aids in organizing information and relieves the strain on each person's short-term memory. And here is how to do it.

  • Make a list of the characters (on the left). The "actors" are all of your story's major characters.
  • Write the conclusion and your aim (on the right).
  • Fill in the gaps with words and arrows.

The map should serve a practical purpose rather than being a piece of art. The use of words, arrows, and the occasional box should be enough. There's no need to be an expert at drawing.

The number of steps on your map should range from five to fifteen. It's probably too difficult if there are more than twenty.

The group can agree on the problem framework without becoming bogged down in competing ideas by keeping the map basic.

You'll spend the remainder of the day interviewing "experts" to learn more about the issue area. You'll add additional questions as you need it, modify your map, and even change the wording of your long-term aim.

On Monday afternoon, your task will be to piece together one complete picture using everyone's combined knowledge and experience.

Tell the expert what the sprint is all about and provide them a two-minute overview of the long-term objective, sprint questions, and map if they aren't on the sprint team.

Request that all specialists give you all they know about the problem at hand. Inquire about areas where the expert has additional knowledge.

The whiteboards must be updated. Questions about sprints should be included. Make a new map. Revise your long-term aim if necessary. Don't be afraid to make changes since your specialists will be here to tell you what you didn't actually know (or missed) in the morning.

Fixing on the Target

A male businessman setting the target for the sprint goal. What does he want to achieve as the ultimate outcome?

On Monday, your final assignment will be to select a sprint goal. Who is the most important customer, and when did that experience become critical? This decision will set the tone for the rest of the race.

The objective is the location on your map where you have the most chance of doing something extraordinary (and maybe the biggest risk of failure).

Can't make up your mind? Are there too many options? Instruct the Decider to make a decision. That is why they are paid so well!

Examine your sprint questions again once you've chosen a target. You won't answer all of those questions in one sprint, but at least one of them should be aligned with the aim.

Tuesday - Day 2


You'll start Tuesday morning by looking for existing ideas that you may apply to build your solution later that afternoon. Lightning Demos is Knapp's strategy for gathering and integrating these pre-existing concepts.

Your staff will take turns providing three-minute presentations of their favorite solutions, including those from other products, domains, and inside your own organization.

Request that everyone on your team create a list of items or services to evaluate in search of innovative solutions.

Remind workers to look for inspiration outside of their business or profession and from within the firm. You should be able to learn something from anything you evaluate.

After a few minutes of deliberation, everyone should choose one or two top choices.

On the whiteboard, jot down the information you've gathered.

One by one, the individual who proposed each product provides a tour, demonstrating what makes it so special to the rest of the company. Each tour should last around three minutes.

Jot down significant ideas, topics, and possibilities on the whiteboard as you tour.


A female undergrad finding the answer to the online test. Similar to achieving the sprint goal, its the time to find solutions.

It's important to find solutions on Tuesday afternoon. However, there will be no discussing, no yelling over one another, and no delaying judgment so that odd ideas can thrive. Instead, you'll work alone, taking your time to draw.

In eight minutes, each participant draws eight iterations of their finest ideas. This activity pushes you to go beyond your reasonable initial choices and improve them, or at the very least examine alternatives.

"What might be another good way to accomplish this?" ask yourself as you consider a favorite piece from your concepts sheet.

Continue until you can't think of any more variants, then go back to your ideas page and pick a new one to riff on instead.

The next stage is for each participant to write out their greatest suggestion in detail. Because these drawings will be scrutinized—and assessed! They must be detailed, well-thought-out, and simple to comprehend for the rest of the team.

Each picture will be a three-panel storyboard made on sticky notes that depict your consumers' views when using your product or service.

Place the solution drawings in a stack once everyone has completed them. On Wednesday, you'll view them for the first time.

Wednesday - Day 3


Wednesday morning's aim is to choose which options to prototype.

  • Using masking tape, stick all of the solution sketches to the wall.
  • Examine all solutions in silence, then use dot stickers to highlight key points.
  • Use post-it notes to capture major ideas and quickly review the highlights of each solution.
  • Each individual selects one answer and votes for it with a dot tag (as many as they like from the available amount).
  • Using—you got it—more stickers, the Decider makes the ultimate decision.

By Wednesday afternoon, you'll know which drawings have the most possibility of addressing your sprint questions and assisting you in achieving your long-term objective.

After that, you must transform all of your decisions into a plan of action to complete your prototype in time for Friday's test.


A designer finishing her design as part of the storyboard for the final prototype.

On Wednesday afternoon, you'll put the best drawings together to form a storyboard. This will be akin to the three-panel storyboards you drew on Tuesday. Still, it'll be longer: ten to fifteen frames, all firmly integrated into one continuous plot.

You'll use your storyboard to see your final prototype "on the marketplace" so you can identify issues and sources of misunderstanding before it's constructed.

You'll begin by sketching your storyline in the grid's top left box. Customers will encounter this frame for the first time on Friday.

Consider the following scenario: How do clients learn about your company? What are they doing, and where are they before utilizing your goods?

Then, like a comic book, you'll fill up your plot one frame at a time as a group. Stick the post-it notes from your best sketches on the whiteboard as much as possible. Make the best of what you've got.

Avoid coming up with new ideas and instead focus on those you currently have. You should include basic headlines and keywords in your storyboard, but don't strive to polish your wording.

Quite enough information is supplied. Make your storyboard as detailed as possible so that no one needs to wonder, "What happens next?"

Thursday - Day 4

It's all about faking it on Thursday. You've come up with a brilliant solution. You're going to fake it instead of taking weeks, months, or years to construct.

You could create the actual item eventually, but isn't it better to see whether the answer works? Not every concept is a winner, and it's better to find out as soon as possible.

You'll need to shift your mindset from "ideal" to "quite enough," from "long-term reliability" to "temporary simulation"—a prototyping mindset—to create a "fake."

Why should we proceed in this manner?

We can prototype anything.

Goods, services, equipment, and software are all examples. Everything.

Prototypes are thrown away. If it doesn't function, you have no obligation to keep it. We simply need to construct just enough to learn and nothing more. There are no bells and whistles required. Just the bare bones of a product.

However, the prototype must look to be real. Let's not forget that an obvious ruse will not attract the same level of interest as a unique approach.

Because each prototype is unique, there is no way to offer a step-by-step approach. Knapp, on the other hand, provides the following guidelines.

  • Choose the correct tools. If you're presenting on a screen, Keynote or Powerpoint are the best options. Word or Publisher can be a good fit if you're working on paper. Make a script if it's a service. Modify another space for a space. If you're making an object, molding clay, bricks, or a 3D printer will suffice.
  • Divide and conquer is a good strategy. The team should be divided into task groups. The components are made by makers. They were put together by stitchers. The scripts are written by writers. Asset collectors gather what is required to provide substance, and interviewers, who play a critical role, must show to the consumer.
  • Piece it all together. Mistakes in the facade, such as incoherence in a movie and a fighter with a timepiece, cause the front to break down.
  • Make a test run. Isn't it self-evident? You need to convey the appearance that you've been utilizing the solution for a long time and that it genuinely exists in the facade. We've all been on the receiving end of a poor presentation.

Friday - Day 5

A customer doing external evaluation to the final prototype while giving feedback on his notes.

The final, and maybe most crucial, day. Your solution's external evaluation.

This is how Friday operates. One of your team members serves as the interviewer. He'll interview five of your potential consumers one by one. He'll have them do a job using the prototype while asking a few questions to figure out what they're thinking.

The remainder of you will watch a live video feed of the interview and take notes on the customers' reactions.

These interviews are a roller coaster of emotions.

  • You'll be disappointed if buyers are perplexed by your prototype.
  • You'll be upset if they don't care about your innovative concept.
  • But you'll be overjoyed if they finish a tough assignment, comprehend what you've been trying to convey for months, or admire your answer.

What is the significance of the number five?

The patterns of success or failure will be obvious after five interviews. Running more than five miles has little benefit. The return on investment (ROI) is dramatically reduced. Five is also a useful number because you can squeeze five one-hour interviews and review time into one day.

There should be five steps to the interview. A warm welcome awaits. Questions about the context and an introduction to the prototype. The task with the prototype, followed by a debrief.

Context questions offer you to learn more about your clients' motivations and requirements, which will aid you in interpreting their responses.

Tasks can be triggered by a programmed "nudge" that asks the consumer how they want to interact with the prototype. By asking, "What do you think of that?" you may focus where you need to.

  • What do you think that will result in?
  • What are you thinking about right now?
  • What would you do if you were in this situation?

You'll be collecting clues throughout the day. Some will assist you in solving the case, while others will send you the wrong way. It will only all come together at the end of the day. What can be done to help with this?

Together, watch the recorded interview videos. Conclusions will be reached more quickly if everyone works cooperatively.

Working together, several minds can make an informed judgment about what to do next.

Keep an eye out for trends. Compare the results to the sprint questions from Monday.

Remember, this is for the consumer, so how did they feel?

Remember that a sprint should end with a conclusion:

  • it works,
  • really doesn't work, or
  • requires further work.

Every step forward is a step forward.

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