What's the dream of every entrepreneur? Expert advice on how to improve a business or product at low (or, better yet, no) cost. That might sound like a pipe dream, but thanks to Google Ventures, something along those lines is actually a reality.
The search giant's investment arm recently put out a simple step-by-step guide to conducting a "design sprint" aimed at helping founders fine tune their businesses. "The sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers," explains the site laying out the basics of the process. "It's a 'greatest hits' of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more--packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use."
Eventually Google Ventures will be putting out a book-length elaboration of the process but in the meantime it has made a simple DIY version of its "design sprint" available online. To get a flavor of what you'll find, here's an outline of how you'll spend each day.
"Expertise and knowledge on most teams is asymmetrical: Sales knows things engineering doesn't, customer support knows things design doesn't, and so on," the guide explains. Google Ventures instructs entrepreneurs to kick off the week by making sure all the knowledge your team possesses is on the table and offering links to several resources to help you accomplish this.
Just what it sounds like--day two involves everybody drawing his or her own detailed solutions to the problem you've laid out. If you're not naturally the artistic type and have no idea how to do that, no worries. Google Ventures offers "four discrete steps (Notes, Mind Map, Crazy 8s, and Storyboard)" to turn half-baked notes into visibly rendered ideas.
Midweek is when you narrow down all your possible solutions and choose which to prototype and test. As is the case for each step, articles offering advice on how to do this are available.
As the week nears its end, it's time to actually start building. "You'll spend Thursday in the flow, being ridiculously productive," promises Google Ventures, which offers advice on how to build a "realistic-looking prototype" in just eight hours (it can be done, they insist).
Is what you built any good? Friday is the day to find out by showing what you've built to actual customers in one-on-one interviews. And don't worry if you get a less-than-enthusiastic response to your prototype. "It's actually those epic failures which, while painful to watch, provide the greatest return on investment. When a prototype flops, it means we've spotted critical flaws after only five days of work. It's learning the hard way--without the 'hard way,'" insists Google Ventures.
Do you think a design sprint could work for your business?