industrial design and product development services

Design Sprints Are Worth The Rush

Are you or your team struggling to work out how to tackle a tricky design problem? Are you unsure of whether to ideate widely in a shallow way or ‘put all your chips on red’ and go for a particular direction? It can be a daunting decision when faced with an unknown target and mounting commercial or brand pressure to succeed. If you’re uncertain, paralysis can be crippling for your business.

Over the years we’ve tried a lot of techniques to improve the design process (we’ve got the scars to prove it) and we keep coming back to a common thread, the design sprint. Writers may have heard of Julia Cameron’s iconic book The Artist Way, where she extolls the virtues of writing morning pages everyday on anything that comes to mind. This habitual practice frees the creative mind over time.

Whilst design sprints are generally more targeted, the fact that we’re reducing a big project into a series of smaller ‘mini-challenges’ allows both our team and our clients to digest the work with less stress and clearer short term goals. The shared accomplishment of hitting deadlines and the sense of forward (and sometimes sideways) movement helps teams build confidence, momentum and purpose.

As the name suggests, design sprints can seem like a rush. Care needs to be taken to be strategic with the pressure as no one can sprint all the time. That said, rushing hard for certain outcomes provides our team with rapid feedback and understanding that encourages sequential improvements, or in some circumstances even complete pivots, that help us avoid disappearing down the proverbial design ‘rabbit hole’.

We’ve found this general methodology particularly useful in the concept ideation and development phases of a project. Many times we’ve pushed hard to get to prototype (even a rough test rig) and this has informed project decisions faster and more effectively than agonising for days over 3D CAD refinements.

The skill comes in knowing when to push and when to hold. An all out rush is not always useful when detailing part finishes, materials and manufacturing specifications. Don’t sprint to choose a manufacturing partner or make an uninformed strategic decision. Take your time to breath and consider key moments, then sprint again to the next milestone. Think of it like a rubber band stretching to absorb stress, then sling shotting forward with incredible momentum.

If you choose to try this approach you’re likely to witness something else that us consultants take for granted, your team will gain a business fitness. Ironically, it’s like an athlete doing pre-season training. All those sprints, followed by periods of recovery, creates an underlying belief and provides a foundation to build future success on, almost without consciously training.

Would you like to give it a try on your project? Reach out to find out more –

16th May 2023

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