I’ve just read two cookbooks back-to-back. What do I mean by "cookbook"? Short answer: I mean a "how to" style book long on checklists and instruction rather than abstract guidance or case studies. The first of the two books, which I’m writing about now, is Sprint.

TL;DR If you plan to run a design sprint, you should read this book.

The goal of a design sprint is to get honest customer reaction to a product or feature you believe will be critical to your success—in just five days! Is this kind of customer feedback important? Yes! Too many companies and too many products bet the bank on something that really doesn't matter much to their customers—but they take quarters or years to figure that out. If you believe you know what customers will line up for, test that now! Sprint shows you how to do that.

Some themes stand out:

Write things down. Be literal about the questions you want to answer. Draw maps of the customer journey. Use whiteboards, sticky notes, and pens—put away your devices until you're ready to prototype!

Never brainstorm or engage in group free-for-all discussions of any kind. In a design sprint, feedback is time-boxed and often in writing. Rather than the author of an idea "pitching their idea" to the team, feedback is often summarized and narrated by the Facilitator to the team.

"The Decider decides". A lot of what's good about Sprint can be summarized by this phrase. A design sprint is not a democratic process. There's voting, for sure, but after a vote, the Decider decides what to do (and may go against the vote).

Sprint is full of detail: who's on the team, what their roles are, what the agenda is for every day of the week. It describes how to find customers, how to run interviews, and how to observe and unpack reactions.  Sprint includes notes specifically for the Facilitators.

Of course, to do a design sprint well, you can't just read the book—you need to practice!

#bookreview