By Hugh Quigley see more by Hugh here.

Design Thinking & SPRINT

Irish Tech News attended Ireland’s first introduction to the world of Design Thinking and SPRINT, a model pioneered by a former Googler, Jake Knapp.  The evening was kindly hosted by Aviva in their stylish offices located on Hatch Street, Dublin.

Readers may be familiar with the concepts of Design Thinking, promoted by Stanford University, as an alternative approach to creative problem-solving.  One of its foremost advocates is the innovative Design firm IDEO, which counts Apple, Coca-Cola, Ford and Air New Zealand amongst its clients.

A popular alternative method of assessing potential concepts is the Lean Business Model, the core concept of which, is a laser-like focus on the needs of customers.   “Lean” thinking aims to eliminate waste in any process and proponents assert that applying such thinking at the development stage of a business concept helps to avoid the pitfall of developing a technically brilliant product or service that simply fails to find customers.

Some bright minds working at Google took some of the concepts of Design Thinking and combined these with elements of the Lean Business Model and SPRINT was born.  This is an entire development and validation process condensed into just 5 days.  Such a process does not, of course, guarantee instant success but has strong appeal as a path to guide the development of a product or service.

No strangers to the innovation scene in Ireland, the dynamic father and son team of Raomal and Rohan Perera, are now introducing the model to Ireland.  They travelled abroad to participate in a number of SPRINT workshops with the founder Jake Knapp and are excited to introduce the concepts locally.

As an introduction to SPRINT, Rohan gave the audience an overview of these different stages of the process and details of how the model has worked in real life situations.  One example given was how Slack, the tech world’s favourite workflow solution used the model to solve a problem.  Slack noticed that they had gained significant traction amongst the Tech community but not in other sectors and so used SPRINT to help address the difficulty in explaining their offering to non-tech users.   The full story of this is detailed in the SPRINT book but the team must have got something right as Slack grew from a user base of 500 thousand to over 4 million in just over 18 months.

In summary, the SPRINT method comprises the following stages.

  1. Map the project: how might a customer progress through the proposed product or service and what might success for the firm look like?
  2. Sketch Time: Summarize possible solutions
  3. Decision Time: Pick a solution
  4. Messy Time: Build a prototype
  5. Cold Water Test: obtain some target customer feedback

Raomal and Rohan set the audience to work on two problems supplied by hosts Aviva using some of SPRINT’s techniques.  It was fascinating to see how quickly the room engaged in scribbling Post-It Note solutions, all the more so, as the exercise was completed in silence.  The different teams then ranked the proposed solutions, silently voting with coloured dots on preferred proposals.

As a wrap up for the evening, Clare Kelly, of the flexible workspace provider Glandore, spoke of their experience of using SPRINT to aid their business.  Highly complimentary of the process and how informative the customer feedback that they gained during the SPRINT, Ciara described the hectic few days that her team dedicated to participating in a SPRINT.  As the outcome has yet to be implemented, she wasn’t able to share the details with the audience but did explain that the 5-day SPRINT lasted well into the night.

To find out more about SPRINT and how it might work within your organisation, contact Rohan or Raomal at

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