A Sprint Story Chapter Five:
Feedback Friday, Mead Makers & Pirate Ships

Chapter Four in case you missed it


The Plan

Today everything our team has discussed for the past week is finally put to the test in the real world, with actual user interviews. The goal is to uncover opportunities to improve and better understand our users’ needs. One team member will lead the interviews while the rest of the team observes via webcam. You’ll see users react live to your prototype as you make notes and observations. We wrap up the day with a team regroup to discuss findings, identify patterns, and determine our next move (and maybe celebrate with a beer or three).


The Plot


The question was on everyone’s minds. Would we have enough tests to observe and synthesize? Was unmoderated remote testing a bad idea? Did we break too many rules? When the team arrived at the office, Sara had a smile on her face. Two tests had already come in, and a third was underway. This was huge news! So we fired up usertesting.com, observed, and made notes about our first interview. The quality of the feedback and the tone in the woman’s voice was good signal that our prototype could really fill a need in these people’s lives.

Throughout the morning more tests came in, and we synthesized the data in chunks. We no longer had to worry about the timing of the tests because we had plenty to review, so we paced ourselves and synthesized three more. With the insights we had we felt like the sprint was a success. So in the middle of the day we took a detour. Instead of watching the remaining tests, we decided to use the afternoon for some new activities.



Earlier in the week (before unmoderated remote testing was decided upon), we had reached out to a few CDEs (Certified Diabetes Educators) because there was a chance we’d be testing with them. We decided to keep a nurse on call just in case we wanted her feedback. We figured that this was a unique opportunity to get a different perspective, so we called her up. She was so open to helping that she pulled over on the side of the road to speak with us. After texting her a link to the InVision prototype we walked her through the concept and got more insightful feedback.



With two hours left, we introduced a few new activities on the fly. First, we led a project retro of the week. Our favorite method in doing such an activity is to find someone with the most “unique” drawing skills and ask them to draw a boat and an anchor. The bow of the boat represents what was propelling us forward. The stern, what was holding us back.

The bigger takeaways were things I’ve already written about but worth capturing below:


Improvement Themes

  1. Include lots of examples for the sketching exercises so participants understand the fidelity that is required.
  2. Restate assumptions and goals early and often to keep everyone on task.
  3. Work towards very specific goals at the beginning of the week.
  4. Find a way to surface the status of all team members on prototyping day.


Propulsion Themes

  1. A Design Sprint provides an incredible arena for discussion and intense focus.
  2. Divergent collaboration and ideation works.
  3. The Roche team was very grateful for the facilitation and hosting of the week.
  4. The Roche team saw major value in bringing this methodology into their organization.
  5. Design Sprints work.



The remainder of the day was spent drinking mead (made by our resident meadmaker John) and uploading photos to a Google Photo album. This was critical, for without the photos we wouldn’t be able to tell this story in such a visual way!


More importantly, we discussed tactics for how the Roche Global Market Insights team can disseminate and teach this information to their mammoth organization.



So did we save any lives this week? Did we make a difference in the world? Not yet. It’s all theoretical at the moment. But maybe 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6 years from now Roche will feel the impact of these five little days in May. And maybe, just maybe, Type 2 diabetes will be less of a threat to the human condition. I’d like to think that if that happens, we can look back with satisfaction and fulfillment knowing that we played the tiniest part of making that a reality. This is meaningful work.


I’ve quoted Seneca before and I’ll quote him again, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”


The spirit of a Design Sprint is created through structure, but within that structure there must be a mindset of flow. If you stay too married to an expectation, the week will be uncomfortable and you may miss pleasant surprises. If you stay too loose, the entire week could be lost in discussion and decision paralysis. So let this be a lesson for anyone who is new or veteran to Design Sprints. Remember that the best parts of a Design Sprint, hell the best parts of life, happen in between those plans you make. So start with structure, try stuff out, don’t be afraid to let go and abandon it all, and make sure you have a whole lot of fun in the process.


Do you have a Sprint Story you want to share? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!



Interested in learning more about Design Sprints at Digital Telepathy? We can run a Design Sprint with you and your team in our pimped out Design Sprint Studio for a productive and sun-soaked week in San Diego. Give us a shout and let’s Sprint!