Lakhan Samani


September 04, 2017

Sprint - How to solve big problems and test new ideas in 5 days

Book by Braden Kowitz, Jake Knapp, and John Zeratsky

While working at Sleeker Labs, I had a chance to listen to this audio book. It is really important to pick up the right procedure for building a product.

This book helps in narrowing down the sprint process, with very concrete steps mentioned in few chapters. Since this are tried and tested procedures by well established startups belonging to different domains, we should definitely use them.

Key Take Aways

  • Follow 5 days sprint, Monday - Thursday (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) and Friday (9 a.m. - 5 p.m.). This should include 1hr lunch break with 2-3 coffee breaks required for team to focus and be more productive.

  • Day 1 we start with the problem. Follow no device rule to reduce distractions (Might be difficult for remote teams). On the first day of the week we discuss the problem with the domain expert, try to gather information, take opinions from the team and we don’t directly jump to solutions. We convert our challenges into set of questions and list them down on sticky notes. Quick way to convert challenges into questions is to follow HMW- How might we .... Once we have set of challenges that we need to solve, in the other half we organize those challenges into groups so that we have sorted order of challenges based on their priorities. We try to map our actors with outcomes in form of flow charts. At the end choose the target, who will be end user of the problem that you are trying to solve over the week. During the course of meeting follow ABC - Always be capturing.

  • Day 2, we start with sketching the flow and low fidelity mockups for the challenges that we have found. Remember each person in the team should only have one relevant sketch, because increasing the number of sketches will increase time to review them. Also remember we are not here for sketching, but we want to find options and solutions to the problem. Also in the sketch try putting the real content and not Lorem ipsum, this will help while giving demo to the decision makers and will clear their doubts as well.

  • Day 3, we start building our story board, mapping our sketches (Solutions) / to the Map that we have defined on Day 1. Also we contact our target customers with appropriate mails and ads. Follow divide and conquer strategy. This is mainly task of decision makers to pick the right solution and build story board accordingly. Also identify the relevant and irrelevant stories for the sprint and prioritize them.

  • Day 4, we start building prototype for the story board that we have decided on day 3. Building prototype is very crucial, since we have limited time. We need to pick the right tools to build it. It might not always be possible to build a website, app or some hardware in one day. In such case make sure whole team works on different sketches and at the end merge them all, into one working prototype. Remind your customers to be present for the next, so that we can test our prototype. Prepare interview script for the customers.

  • Day 5, we interview our customers with working prototype, and record their reactions and feedbacks. This will help us in finding patterns and help us in measuring things that we have done over the week. Remember 5 is the magic number for taking interviews. So there should be at least 5 customers. Once the interview is done we can analyze results and decide whether product / feature is helpful or not.

At the end I would say, following the right procedure will help us make the right decision. Don’t always run for building the solutions. First take feedback on the prototype and then build them.

Lakhan Samani

Personal blog by Lakhan Samani