At NearForm, design and design thinking are fundamental to how we deliver solutions. However, it cannot be overstated how important design is to any solution before development even begins. Given how expensive software development is, the biggest cost saving in any of our engagements is to write as little software as possible!
How do we achieve this? There are several ways; but over the last year, we’ve had a lot of success running Design Sprints, so much so that today we are very proud to announce the publication of the NearForm Design Sprint Handbook — the ultimate guide to how we run Design Sprints at NearForm.
Pioneered by Google Ventures, Design Sprints are described as:
a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. Developed at GV, it’s a greatest hits of business strategy, innovation, behaviour science, design thinking, and more packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.
So, what are the business benefits you get when you engage with NearForm to do a Design Sprint? We have run Design Sprints for both new solutions and also for improving existing solutions, but ultimately its main benefit is the ability to test ideas in a risk-free environment in a low-cost fashion — it’s an incredibly powerful process.
The other business benefits you can gain are:
- Stakeholder alignment. Design Sprints are amazingly good for resolving team conflicts around solution disputes. We encourage equal participation from many areas of the business. This fosters mutual respect, motivates the wider team and builds momentum and support behind the solution.
- Time-boxed decision making and problem-solving. The 5-day process forces stakeholders to make decisions quickly. It is simply not possible to wait weeks for a decision on something. This is fantastic for pushing through blockers and it accelerates the thinking around the solution.
- Focus on the user. Prototyping and user testing are the cornerstones of design thinking and are the ultimate focus of the Design Sprint during the week. We have found that having real users test the prototypes humanizes the problem and naturally makes the stakeholders empathise with the end user.
A Design Sprint is not your entire design phase compressed in the span of a week. It is, however, an excellent way to get from idea to tangible concept in a week. This is why at nearForm we use Design Sprints a lot to kick-start a new engagement. It does not solve all problems, but we find it very effective for finding the north star that the solution will follow from there. Also, it’s perfectly fine if the outcome of a Design Sprint is a decision not to proceed with the solution any further – when that’s the case the business is very happy with the amount of money it has saved by not continuing.
This is the first of several posts about how we succeed with solution delivery in NearForm. In our next post, we’ll talk about what happens post–Design Sprint and discuss the processes and tools we use to get you from prototype to Minimal Viable Product (MVP) launch in a three-month timeframe.
If you would like to talk to us specifically about Design at nearForm or need help in running a Design Sprint, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Huge thanks to our dedicated design team for putting this handbook together, in particular, Joy Burke and Antoine Marin.