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Design Sprint Planning: A Comprehensive Guide

Design Sprints > Design Sprint Planning: A Comprehensive Guide

✍️ Written by Daniel Cooper on May 1st 2023 (Updated - August 30th 2023)

Design sprint planning is an essential part of any design sprint, combining the principles of agile methodology with focused, time-based activities that involve members of the design and development questing teams. It begins with identifying challenges, exploring solutions, choosing the best ones, and then creating a prototype that can be tested and refined throughout the process.

The key to productive design sprint planning is fostering effective collaboration among all members of the Scrum crew. To do this, some simple strategies can be employed, such as clearly defining the sprint goal, creating the backlog, and determining our heroes' capacity. Doing so lets your adventurers quickly and efficiently narrow down the tasks required to complete each backlog item during sprint week.

Key Takeaways

  • Epic planning streamlines product development with time-based activities.
  • Collaboration is essential to the success of your sprinting adventure.
  • Clearly defining the goal, creating the sprint backlog, and determining the team's capacity are all vital components of the planning practice.

Design Sprint Planning Basics

A diverse team of people sit around a table with laptops and notebooks. They look focused and engaged in discussion, with one person pointing at a sketch on a whiteboard in the background. Camera angle: over the shoulder.

Planning is the first essential step. It is an agile framework that helps adventurers create and test solutions efficiently. This workshop is perfect for tackling complex problems as it empowers our heroes to explore, prototype, and test ideas using a structured, time-bound approach.

Now, a design sprint typically lasts five days a week, with five phases, each day being dedicated to a different phase of the process. The first phase is Sprint Planning, the time when the crew sets clear objectives, defines the sprint goal, and aligns everyone with the plan.

So, what are the basics of Design Sprint Planning? It all begins with understanding the problem and setting a clear goal. The Sprint Master (or Scrum Master for a Scrum adventure) should invite all mystical workshop members and stakeholders to participate, ensuring everyone has the chance to contribute ideas to the discussion. Remember, collaboration with other teams is crucial in measuring results and making epic Planning successful.

Once the crew is assembled, gathering expert insights, ideas, and feedback is crucial. This can be done by scheduling lightning talks, raising critical business questions, and interviewing users, partners, gurus, or other stakeholders. Gathering valuable information in this early stage will help other team members decide and make informed decisions later in the ideation and prototyping phases.

With the insights and contributions from all workshop members, the Master should then guide our adventurers to prioritize action items, split the workload, and create a timeline. Organizing sprints are essential for ensuring smooth progress and efficient time management.

At this point, it's important to remember that the agile framework is all about flexibility, so it's okay for the plan to undergo some changes. As new ideas and challenges arise, our heroes can adapt and revise their initial plan while working towards the ultimate sprint goal.

In short, Sprint Basics involve:

  • Setting clear goals and objectives
  • Assembling a diverse and collaborative team
  • Gaining expert idea through lightning talks and interviews
  • Prioritizing tasks and creating timelines
  • Remaining flexible and adaptive

By following these simple yet powerful guidelines, our heroes can kick off their Design Sprints with confidence and clarity, knowing they've laid a solid foundation for success.

Key Roles in Design Sprint Planning

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Several key roles work together to ensure its success. Each role brings unique skills and expertise, enabling effective collaboration and achieving a shared goal.

Product Owner

Oh, mighty product owner! This brave soul maximizes the product's value and ensures the project aligns with the user's needs. They're the ones steering the ship, making decisions about the priorities and vision of the project. As the liaison between the stakeholders and the epic development team, the product owner creates and maintains the product backlog, communicates the goals clearly, and emphasizes critical thinking.

Scrum Master

Behold the scrum master! They're like the guide on a grand adventure, ensuring the team follows the agile scrum practice and toeing the line between dungeon master (facilitator) and protector. The scrum master helps the small team to self-organize and adapt to changes. They also remove any obstacles or impediments the team may encounter, allowing everyone to focus on delivering a quality product.

Development Team

Meet the magical development team β€” the fearless crew committed to making the product owner's vision a reality! With a variety of skills among them, including UX culture designers, warriors (developers), and project managers, this cross-functional group collaborates to complete the tasks at hand. They're responsible for creating the product increment, following the backlog instructions, and estimating the effort needed to complete each task.


And lastly, the stakeholdersβ€”those impacted by the product or with a vested interest in its success. They include the top brass and small groups like clients, sponsors, and users who provide valuable input and feedback throughout the process. Though not directly involved in everyday tasks, their insights and opinions are significant in decision-making. The product owner will often consult with them and keep them informed to ensure the final product meets their needs and expectations.

Each role in the process is crucial for achieving successful outcomes. Together as a unified Scrum Team, they can sail through challenges, collaborate effectively, and deliver an exceptional product on time and within budget.

The Design Sprint Process

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The first step in the Design Sprint process is truly understanding the problem. This involves research and gathering notes from various sources such as user interviews, analytics data, and expert opinions. The goal here is to create a strong foundation of knowledge about the users and their needs.


Next, it's time to transform ideas into tangible forms. The design sprint team should take all the gathered information and participate in a sketching session. This isn't just limited to designers; everyone on the team can contribute their ideas. One should sketch various solutions or concepts to address the problem, considering the user's perspective.


With many promising solutions and creative sketches, it's time to make some decisions and take that winning scenes. Evaluate each solution based on feasibility, user impact, and alignment with business goals. Collaboratively select the most promising ideas and refine them into a cohesive plan.


Once the decisions have been made, it's time to bring those ideas to life with a prototype. This is a crucial step of the adventure where your team can create a working model or prototype of the solution, be it a mobile app interface prototype, a webpage, or even a realistic prototype of a physical product. Remember, prototypes should be functional enough to test with real users but don't need to be perfect or polished.


Finally, the moment of truth. Test the prototypes with actual users to gather feedback and insights into your design's strengths and weaknesses. This stage allows your customer research team to validate or invalidate assumptions, identify potential pain points, and discover areas for improvement.

By following this process, your team will have a clear and efficient methodology to tackle complex design problems and iterate quickly, ensuring a user-centered approach throughout the entire design process.

Daniel Cooper

Daniel Cooper

Managing Partner & Dungeon Master

Did you know?
A design sprint gives you a quick way to validate your ideas or solutions with real users.

It's like having a sorcerer's stone that can turn hypotheses into evidence!

Sprint Planning Meeting

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Gather 'round, agile warriors! Let's delve into the mystical realm of Sprint Planning Meetings!


First, we need an agenda to guide us through our meeting. Like a wizard's spell book, it'll keep us focused and aligned. Here's a sample agenda to help you conjure up a robust discussion:

  1. Review the backlog: a magical list of user stories and tasks prioritized by your valiant Product Owner.
  2. Determine team capacity: evaluate the working hours and availability of your band of agile heroes.
  3. Estimate tasks: use story points or hours to grant each user story an estimate.
  4. Select items for the sprint: create your Sprint Backlog by choosing what work can realistically be tackled.


You might also want to size up user stories before adding them to the Sprint Backlog. Why, you ask? Accurate estimations help in judging the actual capacity of your adventurous brotherhood! Typically, we utilize story points – not hours – for this purpose.

Here's a nifty table to guide you along on your estimation quest:

Story Points Effort
1 Minor
2 Somewhat easy
3 Moderate
5 Complex
8 Significantly challenging
13 Truly epic

Estimating story points allows the team member to grasp the relative complexity of a task rather than getting bogged down in the mundane details of time.

Sprint Backlog

After that, it's time to forge the mighty Sprint Backlog, crafted by selecting high-priority user stories from the Product Backlog. This artifact represents the work your team is committed to tackling during the sprint week, and it is as sacred as an ancient scroll!

When creating your Sprint Backlog, keep these guidelines in mind :

  • Ensure it contains specific, achievable tasks.
  • Balance the workload appropriately across heroic team members.
  • Keep the duration in mind – don't let your team become overwhelmed!

Now, go forth and commence this epic sprint journey! Remember: confident, knowledgeable, neutral, and clear. That's the voice of the agile adventurer!

Tools and Resources

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Aye, brave explorer! When venturing into the realm of Planning a Design Sprint, you'll need the right weapons and armor to face the challenges ahead. Fret not, for I have a list of tools and resources vital for a successful quest!

In the land of technology, various software solutions may aid you on your journey. JIRA, for instance, is a powerful beast that aids in planning, allowing your Scrum Master to manage the product backlog, allocate tasks, and track progress throughout each iteration. With JIRA, you'll defeat disorganization and emerge victorious!

But ye must know that JIRA isn't the sole software champion! Tools such as Trello, Monday.com, and Asana are loyal allies, helping you manage tasks and collaborate with your fellow warriors.

Now, as you set forth in your planning quest, remember the importance of communication and collaboration. The resources you'll need include:

  • Product Backlog, where you'll store your list of desired features and prioritize them according to their importance to the realm.
  • Scrum Master, a leader who will guide you on your journey, ensuring that everyone follows the Scrum process and works efficiently.
  • Iteration Planning, a phase where the workshop crew commits to completing a set of product backlog items for the upcoming sprint.

Preparing for a Design Sprint Planning is like forging a mighty weapon; with the right tools and resources, your team will be unstoppable! Together, you'll embark on a grand adventure. May you conquer your challenges and discover vast realms of innovation!

Remote Design Sprint Planning

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Effective Collaboration

Behold, mighty remote battle planners! Creating an efficient collaborative space for your remote team is like embarking on a great quest. First, you must establish a shared workspace, a realm where big ideas can thrive, and problems can be tackled head-on. Next, you must choose a timeline that accommodates all adventurers (participants), considering that quests typically span 1.5 to 2 weeks. The swifter your team's velocity, the faster you can march toward success.

Working with a remote team also means conquering the dragons of time zones and availability, so schedule meetings and checkpoints thoughtfully. Bolster your team's expertise, inviting champions from various realms to contribute unique insights and skilled craftsmanship to the process.

Tools and Techniques

In this digital age, a treasure trove of tools and techniques awaits to aid you on your journey. To encompass the vast array of communication needs, consider embracing video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet, where face-to-face encounters can foster trust and understanding.

Collaborative software, like Miro or Trello, can help manage tasks and track progress in real-time, empowering your workshop heroes to share their brilliance freely. For prototyping and design, tools like Figma or Sketch offer seamless integration with your remote setup. Here's a quick inventory of tools to consider:

  • Communication: Slack, Microsoft Teams
  • Video Conferencing: Zoom, Google Meet
  • Project Management: Trello, Asana, Miro
  • Prototyping and Design: Adobe XD, Sketch, Figma

Always remember, adventurers: with the right preparation and power of effective collaboration tools, you can lead your remote squad to success!

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Monitoring and Adjusting

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Whaddya know, my friend? It's all about keeping a close eye on your design sprints and making the necessary changes to keep chugging along full steam ahead! With careful monitoring and adjusting, you'll stay on track to create something magical. Let's dive into Sprint Review and Data-Driven Insights.

Sprint Review

This is the moment when the scrum crew gathers around, checking out the outcome of their hard work during the sprints. Developers, designers, and the organization as a whole review the completed tasks, test the finished products, and identify any bugs or issues that need fixing in future sprints.

Besides solving problems, it's a fantastic opportunity to ensure the product meets everyone's needs and expectations. Marketing and product folks join the party and offer their valuable insights to help maximize the product's quality. The Sprint Review is a dynamic part of the methodology that'll keep things moving in the right direction.

Data-Driven Insights

Hey, don't rely solely on gut feelings here! Use cold, hard data to make informed decisions during your planning. By gathering and analyzing valuable information about your users, you'll understand their needs and preferences better. Let these data-driven insights guide your decisions and shape your product development.

Workflow and estimation are two key areas where data can make a massive difference. Leveraging data helps adventurers identify patterns, pinpoint priorities, and streamline the workflow, making the final phase smoother and more efficient.

Consider tracking the following:

  • The number of bugs resolved per sprint
  • The average time taken to complete tasks
  • The percentage of completed tasks per sprint
  • Comparing previous versions to the current one

Using these existing ideas, you can make more informed choices and challenge the status quo, tweaking and optimizing your workflow.

So, dear adventurer, that's the gist of monitoring and adjusting during your journey! Be vigilant with your review, embrace those data-driven insights, and never be afraid to make adjustments as needed. Happy sprinting!

Practical Applications and Case Studies

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Design sprints are quite the versatile tool for teams facing challenges in product development or refining business strategy. The epic design sprint method is a flexible and responsible method that helps a mystic development crew brainstorm and implement solutions effectively.

For instance, LEGO employed the design sprint methodology to revamp its retail strategy. The project manager took it one day at a time, constantly preparing and adjusting the product feature. With user research and testing, LEGO uncovered insights that helped them boost their retail experience and reach customers worldwide.

Did you notice that? Design sprints isn't just for the new features and products. It is also beneficial in decision-making in various business areas and answers critical business questions. The magic of design sprints lies in their ability to adapt to various scenarios.

Using Google as our trusty compass, here's another illustration: Google frequently runs design sprints to help shape its products and services. These intense 5-day sessions include everything from ideating and prototyping to user testing. By bringing expert insights to the table, their mystic development team maps out challenges and tests solutions with real users, ultimately enhancing and refining their offerings.

For companies ready to embark on design sprints, running it well is crucial. Following the established methodology, it's essential to stick to a set timeframe (usually five business days), engage in customer research and testing, and have key metrics to ensure the heroic development team works and aligns under a shared vision.

Some quest adventurers employ various strategies to keep things on track. For example, planning tools like Atlassian can help teams stay focused on the existing work. At the same time, communities such as the Design Sprint Quest Community offer valuable resources and support.

In summary, design sprints adventures can be used across industries and challenges β€” from product design to business strategy. By using a tried and true design thinking approach with the right mindset, teams can embark on a journey to better products, services, and solutions that make a difference in the world. So gear up, and set sail for success!

Challenges of Design Sprint Planning

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Time and Budget Constraints

Oh geez, you know, time and budget constraints come with a major hurdle in enchanted planning. We've got to solve problems at lightning speed, but sometimes the tight schedule can limit the team's creativity. The whole point of design sprints is to rapidly prototype solutions, right? Well, when there's too much emphasis on speed, the user experience might falter.

This brings me to budgets. Yeah, we need resources to produce quality deliverables, but again, we gotta keep that pocket tight. Keeping the budget in check while maintaining high standards is another big challenge here. Let's all remember to be wise and efficient with time and resources, folks!

Dealing with Complex Problems

Now, talking about complex problems, it's like storming our brains all day long. Design sprint adventures are meant to tackle these lumbering giants! Breaking down these big, scary problems into manageable chunks is essential. But sometimes, it's more complicated than learning to harness a phoenix gem.

There's a chance that questing team members could lose focus during the prototyping phase. So, to avoid wandering off course, creating specific goals and establishing solid communication throughout the process is super important!

  • Use time efficiently: Work rapidly and minimize distractions
  • Balance budget and quality: Make wise decisions on resource allocation
  • Break down complex problems: Divide and conquer those big baddies
  • Stay focused during prototyping: Specific goals and open communication are key

So, don't sweat it too much! We can overcome these challenges with determination, skill, and teamwork, just like how I helped Ian master the arcane arts!

Psychology of Design Sprint Planning

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By the bristles of the mighty Manticore, embarking on a Design Sprint Planning journey entails understanding the psychology behind it. I shall unveil the connection between power, engagement, interviews, and product managers in this mystical realm.

Firstly, harnessing the power of the team's creativity and decision-making leads to the successful execution of big ideas in all design sprints. It is a quest for collaboration, where each adventurer contributes their unique expertise to develop innovative solutions. Product manager leads, guides the crew through uncharted territories of problem-solving.

Next, engagement within the guild plays a crucial role in the step-by-step plan of creating a fruitful design sprint template. Keeping the fellowship motivated and focused helps to maintain a steady pace throughout the journey. One must initiate trust-building exercises and icebreakers to solidify the bond among participants. In this way, the team will foster a fertile ground for generating concepts and sharing constructive feedback.

The art of conducting interviews and asking critical business questions with stakeholders, users, and experts enlighten the path in quest planning. Through these dialogues, the crew gathers valuable insights and perspectives, ensuring that the team's work and final solution address the users' needs. By understanding their desires, aspirations, and pain points, the squad will be better equipped to create a magical user experience.

Lastly, product managers must be acutely aware of the underlying psychology during enchanted planning. This mysterious force drives decision-making, communication, and collaboration. By navigating these intricate dynamics, product managers can create an environment where innovation thrives, and it brings forth a solution that transcends all expectations.

Fear not, for in the perilous world of epic planning, understanding the psychology that binds the approach together ensures the quest's success. May your product managers navigate these waters with wisdom and grace, and may the power of the team's engagement guide you to the enchanted solution your users seek.

πŸ“– Read More: Google's design sprint kit

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the key stages in a design sprint?

Ah, design sprints! In these intense five-day process, initially developed at Google Ventures, user-centered mystic gangs tackle design problems head-on as the sprint begins. They typically involve five stages: Understand, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Test. Each stage is vital in focusing on the problems, brainstorming solutions, making decisions, building prototypes, and testing them with users.

How to plan and organize a successful design sprint?

To plan effective design sprints, you need to have the right mix of a clear long term goal, a squad of diverse perspectives, a dedicated space for collaboration (virtual or physical), and a fixed schedule for the week. Preparing for one week is essential to set expectations by defining the big challenge, assembling the team, testing ideas, and gathering any necessary research or tools beforehand.

What role does a facilitator play in design sprint planning?

A facilitator is like a wizard guiding the hero's journey! They help keep the team chipped and focused, maintain a smooth ritual, and ensure productive discussions. A facilitator also manages time and resources, leads exercises, and coaches the squad through the stages with a foolproof step-by-step plan.

How to choose the right challenge for a design sprint?

Selecting the proper challenge is crucial. It should be an important problem for the business, and the competing solutions still needs to be defined. Remember, design sprints and quests work best for exploring new ideas, critical thinking, tackling significant challenges, or fixing poorly performing products. The solution must have a magical potion to solve the most essential business questions.

What tools and techniques are useful in design sprints?

There are countless tools you can use in your design sprints. Some popular ones include sticky notes, sketch sheets, whiteboards, voting dots, and digital tools like Trello, Mural, and Figma. Techniques, such as lightning demos, crazy eights to sketch eight different ideas, and dot voting, will help drive the process forward and create a productive design sprint template in your sprint book.

How do you assess the outcomes of a design sprint?

At the end of the sprint, the team usually has a tested prototype, feedback from users, and valuable insights. Assess the outcomes by reviewing the feedback and determining if the prototype meets the desired goals. This will help guide the team's future decision-making regarding the product.

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Daniel Cooper

✍️ Written By: Daniel Cooper
πŸ§™ Managing Partner, Lolly
πŸ“… May 1st 2023 (Updated - August 30th 2023)

Daniel Cooper is the founder and managing partner at Lolly and focuses on creating incredible digital products for his clients. As an experienced product designer, sprint facilitator, and software/app developer he has created simple, no-nonsense, and informative videos and articles for Lolly and other established brands.

βœ‰οΈ [email protected]   πŸ”— LinkedIn