5 things I wish I knew before running my first Design Sprint

Care to share?

Lately, we’ve been experimenting a lot with Design Sprints to create novel solutions for eCommerce. The experience with this form of generating ideas is great, but while we were organizing them, we also stumbled upon some problems. These might also be relevant to you, so without further ado – here’s a list of 5 Design Sprint challenges and solutions to them.

What is a Design Sprint?

A Design Sprint is a four-day process for rapid idea validation through workshops and building a prototype that is tested by the users. It originates in Jake Knapp’s book “How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days”, and is used by hundreds of companies worldwide such as LEGO, ING, SLACK and others. We launched Design Sprint as part of Divante’s offer some time ago, so here are five insights we wish we had known when we started.

List of 5 Design Sprint challenges and solutions to them

1. Double check scope of your design sprint


After running one of our first design sprints, we asked our participants for their feedback. While most of it was purely positive we got one message saying: “I could’ve done it in one day myself, I see no reason to bring so many people to the table to solve such an issue”. I was pretty interested in what might be behind this answer, so I spoke to fellow sprinters and the answer was also “It was a pretty small scope for a design sprint“.


Keep in mind that as a facilitator of the design sprint, you are responsible for setting up the right expectations for the whole workshop. Talk with the decision-makers, discuss the goals, and ask them if the scope (or value) of the project investigated in the design sprint is big and impactful enough to gather 4-5 important people in one room.

2. Adjust timetable to your team

In another case, the participants were working much faster than we expected, and during three-part sketching sessions, we had a few people who were done after 20 minutes and were sitting getting bored. It also worked as a distraction for other participants because the aura of everyone working was lost.


If you see that your team at a design sprint is rushing through exercise after exercise, try shortening time spans or give them supplementary tasks to keep everyone engaged.

3. Double check space for your design sprint


For one of the last design sprints, we rented a place that was well known and often used for bigger meetings or events. And while it was spacious and had most of the important equipment (like projectors) in it, the room had a very serious blocker for the creative process.
All the walls were occupied with paintings in frames, and there was nearly no clear space on the walls to stack your stickies, map or projects. We had to use windows to stick all of our work, and because of the strong sun, some things were really hard to see, i.e. stacked stickies were unreadable.

Before you run the sprint, check the room the workshop will be in. If you see any potential problems, talk to your manager or landlord and see how you can work it out before the actual meet-up.

4. Use the right side of the Sharpie


Nowadays, we send emails, SMS or chat on WhatsApp so nearly all the writing we do is done on the computer. There are some people who write super small letters and their handwriting is hard to read. We had a few cases where people used the thin side of the marker and the whole HMW text occupied only about a quarter of a sticky. No wonder it was hard to read afterward.

Remind everyone to write in a manner readable for everyone. Using the thick side of Sharpie, or big letters, will be favorable to the whole group. If you notice that someone’s handwriting is not easily readable, ask them politely to write in capital letters.

5. Explain everything clearly


At the very beginning of each design sprint, we make a short introduction and explain briefly how the whole process will look. For some time, we thought that it would be enough as nobody had any questions as we moved forward. But during the course of our design sprint, we noticed that during doodling, for example, our participants didn’t understand why we don’t just sketch final solution right away, and why we go through these doodling and crazy 8 phases.


At the very beginning of day one, when you start your sprint, be sure to explain briefly each step that you are going to go through, and explain why you will do so. People will trust the process if they know what each step is made for.

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Our first Design Sprint was quite challenging but, at the end of the day, it was a great experience. Now we use this method for solving internal problems as well as validating our clients’ projects. With each subsequent Design Sprint, we are richer in ideas on improving the whole process. I hope this article will help you to run your first Design Sprint without any stress.

If you have any bits of advice for facilitating a Design Sprint, please leave a comment so others don’t have to repeat our mistakes.


Published May 6, 2019