BOOK REVIEW: “Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days” by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz
How does Silicon Valley do it?
How do the designers, engineers, and marketers of this tiny, formerly-agrarian valley churn out one innovation after another?
Part of the answer is mindset. The other is method.
In Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz – Google adventurers all – we learn how to combine imagination, design-thinking, and a stop-clock to solve some of the most pressing challenges you’ll ever face.
Turns out there is a method to the madness, and if you read this book, it just might rub off on you. The lads from Google Ventures have even taken the trouble to document their steps in short video clips (see them below) that make for easy, bite-size learning.
This book shows us what happens when process geeks meet design-thinking in internet time: schedules shrink from months to days, and prototypes are passed around for review by the weekend.
Jake Knapp – the principal author – led design “sprints” for Gmail, Chrome, and Google Search. A visit to Google Stockholm resulted in Google Hangouts. The sprint process was then used by Google Ventures, tested by their startups – in domains from mass-market products to highly specialized applications in medicine and finance. The sprint process held up.
The sprint-stories in the book are entertaining and intense. We learn about the personality of a future hotel “concierge-robot” – the result of a sprint session. How does Blue Bottle Coffee go online? How does one organize the world’s cancer data? And if you’re a developer, you already know about Slack, the “fastest-growing business app in history.”
There are lessons here for all of us – for entrepreneurs of every stripe, and even those of us in more traditional industries. Marketing teams can certainly learn how to speed up projects – from ideation to delivery. Perhaps the biggest contribution of the process is speed. Highly recommended for those who are fed-up with the endless meetings and endless delays of Dilbertian business.
This book is your DIY guide for running your very own sprint week to meet your most urgent challenges.
How does it work?
Set the Stage
The sprint session starts by selecting the right challenge, the right team and making the time and space.
It’s a 5-day process. Each day is structured, given to “solving” a piece of the puzzle.
Ideal team size: 7, to include a Decider, a finance expert, a marketing expert, a customer expert, a tech/logistics expert, a design expert, and finally, the troublemaker!
Another interesting observation: how the sprint-day is divided. Apparently more time does not yield better results.
Now watch. Each day is explained brilliantly:
Every page in Sprint teaches you something. For those of us in marketing, the principles behind this process can be shortened to create a one-day marketing challenge sprint. Or perhaps two.
Jenny Cheung is a freelance marketer and project manager based in Texas.