Sprint: Friday

Sprint: Friday

Your sprint began with a big challenge, an excellent team — and not much else. By Friday, you’ve created promising solutions, chosen the best, and built a realistic prototype. That alone would make for an impressively productive week. But you’ll take it one step further as you interview customers and learn by watching them react to your prototype. This test makes the entire sprint worthwhile: At the end of the day, you’ll know how far you have to go, and you’ll know just what to do next.

The whole process of planning and running Friday’s test is described in the Sprint book. We’ve also got a standalone guide to “research sprints” in the GV Library. See below for the complete Friday checklist and a short video where Jake and I talk through Friday’s customer test.

If you have questions, check out the live chat Q&A we hosted during Sprint Week. If you don’t find answers, feel free to tweet us at @GVdesignteam.

Checklists for Friday

Makeshift Research Lab

Two rooms. In the sprint room, the sprint team will watch a video feed of the interviews. You’ll need a second, smaller room for the actual interviews. Make sure the interview room is clean and comfortable for your guests. (Read more on page 202 in Sprint.)

Set up hardware. Position a webcam so you can see customers’ reactions. If your customer will be using a smartphone, iPad, or other hardware device, set up a document camera and microphone.

Set up video stream. Use any video-conferencing software to stream video to the sprint room. Make sure the sound quality is good. Make sure the video and audio are one-way only.

Key Ideas

  • Five is the magic number. After five customer interviews, big patterns will emerge. Do all five interviews in one day. (p. 197)
  • Watch together, learn together. Don’t disband the sprint team. Watching together is more efficient, and you’ll draw better conclusions. (p. 218)
  • A winner every time. Your prototype might be an efficient failure or a flawed success. In every case, you’ll learn what you need for the next step. (p. 223)

Five-Act Interview

  1. Friendly welcome. Welcome the customer and put him or her at ease. Explain that you’re looking for candid feedback. (p. 204)
  2. Context questions. Start with easy small talk, then transition to questions about the topic you’re trying to learn about. (p. 205)
  3. Introduce the prototype. Remind the customer that some things might not work, and that you’re not testing him or her. Ask the customer to think aloud. (p. 206)
  4. Tasks and nudges. Watch the customer figure out the prototype on his or her own. Start with a simple nudge. Ask follow-up questions to help the customer think aloud. (p. 208)
  5. Debrief. Ask questions that prompt the customer to summarize. Then thank the customer, give him or her a gift card, and show the customer out. (p. 209)

Interviewer Tips

  • Be a good host. Throughout the interview, keep the customer’s comfort in mind. Use body language to make yourself friendlier. Smile! (p. 212)
  • Ask open-ended questions. Ask “Who/What/Where/When/Why/How?” questions. Don’t ask leading “yes/no” or multiple-choice questions. (p. 212)
  • Ask broken questions. Allow your speech to trail off before you finish a question. Silence encourages the customer to talk without creating any bias. (p. 214)
  • Curiosity mindset. Be authentically fascinated by your customer’s reactions and thoughts. (p. 215)

Meanwhile, in the sprint room, the team watches the interviews over a live video feed and takes notes.

Before the First Interview

Draw a grid on a whiteboard. Create a column for each customer. Then add a row for each prototype or section of prototype. (p. 219)

During Each Interview

Take notes as you watch. Hand out sticky notes and markers. Write down direct quotes, observations, and interpretations. Indicate positive or negative. (p. 219)

After Each Interview

Stick up notes. Stick your interview notes in the correct row and column on the whiteboard grid. Briefly discuss the interview, but wait to draw conclusions. (p. 220)

Take a quick break.

At the End of the Day

Look for patterns. At the end of the day, read the board in silence and write down patterns. Make a list of all the patterns people noticed. Label each as positive, negative, or neutral. (p. 222)

Wrap up. Review your long-term goal and your sprint questions. Compare with the patterns you saw in the interviews. Decide how to follow-up after the sprint. Write it down. (p. 222)


Redgate Introduction to Dev Ops

This week and last week, well over the last 2 weeks, I had been starting to get into Devops namely the deployment side of things utilising the Octopus Deploy, but it requires further with the source control so this week I had been looking into how the install files, source files, versioning and setup is done on TeamCity in how this is picked up onto your local machine. It requires a little patience and knowhow on how some of the fields are utilised on the setup in the configuration file much like Microsoft IIS, but works very well with the automation despite my colleagues machine synchronising after 5 minutes!

I had also been looking at the database automated deployment, and this should be done aswell but it isn’t widely regarded important generally but I had been looking nevertheless with Redgate products.

So to looking into Devops further if you haven’t done it before, a nice one hour DevOps 101 webinar from Redgate takes a brief look at the history of DevOps, why it started, what problems it is intended to solve and how you can start implementing it.
See here for details.

Sprint: Thursday

Sprint: Thursday

On Wednesday, you and your team created a storyboard. On Thursday, you’ll adopt a “fake it” philosophy to turn that storyboard into a prototype. A realistic façade is all you need to test with customers, and here’s the best part: by focusing on the customer-facing surface of your product or service, you can finish your prototype in just one day. Sound crazy? It’s not, and here’s why:

  1. You made all the important decisions on Wednesday and captured those in your storyboard.
  2. Your team can “divide and conquer” by splitting up the storyboard into smaller scenes.
  3. You’ll make use of all your team’s skills by assigning prototyping roles like Maker, Stitcher, Writer, and Asset Collector.

On Thursday, you’ll also make sure everything is ready for Friday’s test by confirming the schedule, reviewing the prototype, and writing an interview script.

The Sprint book explains the mindset, strategy, and tools that make it possible to build a realistic façade in seven hours. We even provide a “cheat sheet” for selecting the right prototyping tools and formats. In this post, we’re excited to share the checklist for Thursday and a video where Jake and I talk about the prototype mindset, picking the right tools, and prototyping as a team.

If you have questions, check out the live chat Q&A we hosted during Sprint Week. If you don’t find answers, feel free to tweet us at @GVdesignteam.

Checklist for Thursday

Note: Schedules are approximate. Don’t worry if you run behind. Remember to take breaks every sixty to ninety minutes (or around 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day).

10 a.m.

Pick the right tools. Don’t use your everyday tools. They’re optimized for quality. Instead, use tools that are rough, fast, and flexible. (Read more on page 186 in Sprint.)

Divide and conquer. Assign roles: Maker, Stitcher, Writer, Asset Collector, and Interviewer. You can also break the storyboard into smaller scenes and assign each to different team members. (p. 187)


1 p.m.


2 p.m.


Stitch it together. With the work split into parts, it’s easy to lose track of the whole. The Stitcher checks for quality and ensures all the pieces make sense together. (p. 189)


Do a trial run. Run through your prototype. Look for mistakes. Make sure the Interviewer and the Decider see it. (p. 189)

Finish up the prototype.

Throughout the Day

Write interview script. The Interviewer prepares for Friday’s test by writing a script. (p. 188)

Remind customers to show up for Friday’s test. Email is good, phone call is better.

Buy gift cards for customers. We usually use $100 gift cards.

Key Ideas

  • Prototype mindset. You can prototype anything. Prototypes are disposable. Build just enough to learn, but not more. The prototype must appear real. (p. 168)
  • Goldilocks quality. Create a prototype with just enough quality to evoke honest reactions from customers. (p. 170)

Sprint: Wednesday

Sprint: Wednesday

By Wednesday morning of your sprint, you and your team will have a stack of solutions based on your sketches from Tuesday. That’s great, but it’s also a problem. You can’t prototype and test them all — you need one solid plan. In the morning, you’ll critique each solution, and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take the winning scenes from your sketches and weave them into a storyboard: a step-by-step plan for your prototype.

For a complete and detailed guide to Wednesday’s activities and the rest of the sprint, check out Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. In this post, we’re sharing the checklist for Wednesday and a new video where Jake and I talk about Wednesday’s decision-making exercises.

If you have questions, check out the live chat Q&A we hosted during Sprint Week. If you don’t find answers, feel free to tweet us at @GVdesignteam.

Checklist for Wednesday

Note: Schedules are approximate. Don’t worry if you run behind. Remember to take breaks every sixty to ninety minutes (or around 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day).

10 a.m.

Sticky decision. Follow these five steps to choose the strongest solutions:

  1. Art museum. Tape the solution sketches to the wall in one long row. (Read more on page 132 in Sprint.)
  2. Heat map. Have each person review the sketches silently and put one to three small dot stickers beside every part he or she likes. (p. 132)
  3. Speed critique. Three minutes per sketch. As a group, discuss the highlights of each solution. Capture standout ideas and important objections. At the end, ask the sketcher if the group missed anything. (p. 135)
  4. Straw poll. Each person silently chooses a favorite idea. All at once, each person places one large dot sticker to register his or her (nonbinding) vote. (p. 138)
  5. Supervote. Give the Decider three large dot stickers and write her initials on the sticker. Explain that you’ll prototype and test the solutions the Decider chooses. (p. 140)


Divide winners from “maybe-laters.” Move the sketches with supervotes together. (p. 141)

Rumble or all-in-one. Decide if the winners can fit into one prototype, or if conflicting ideas require two or three competing prototypes in a Rumble. (p. 145)

Fake brand names. If you’re doing a Rumble, use a Note-and-Vote to choose fake brand names. (p. 145)

Note-and-Vote. Use this technique whenever you need to quickly gather ideas from the group and narrow down to a decision. Ask people to write ideas individually, then list them on a whiteboard, vote, and let the Decider pick the winner. (p. 146)

1 p.m.


2 p.m.

Make a storyboard. Use a storyboard to plan your prototype. (p. 149)

  1. Draw a grid. About fifteen squares on a whiteboard. (p. 152)
  2. Choose an opening scene. Think of how customers normally encounter your product or service. Keep your opening scene simple: web search, magazine article, store shelf, etc. (p. 153)
  3. Fill out the storyboard. Move existing sketches to the storyboard when you can. Draw when you can’t, but don’t write together. Include just enough detail to help the team prototype on Thursday. When in doubt, take risks. The finished story should be five to fifteen steps. (p. 154)

Facilitator Tip

Don’t drain the battery. Each decision takes energy. When tough decisions appear, defer to the Decider. For small decisions, defer until tomorrow. Don’t let new abstract ideas sneak in. Work with what you have. (p. 159)

Sprint : Tuesday

Sprint: Tuesday

After a full day of understanding the problem and choosing a target for your sprint, on Tuesday, you get to focus on solutions. The day starts with inspiration: a review of existing ideas to remix and improve. Then, in the afternoon, each person will sketch, following a four-step process that emphasizes critical thinking over artistry. You’ll also begin planning Friday’s customer test by recruiting customers that fit your target profile.

In the Sprint book, we’ve got detailed instructions and example sketches from our sprint with Blue Bottle Coffee. Look below for the complete Tuesday checklist. And check out this video from Jake and me, where we talk about Tuesday’s sprint activities.

If you have questions, check out the live chat Q&A we hosted during Sprint Week. If you don’t find answers, feel free to tweet us at @GVdesignteam. In the meantime, here’s Tuesday’s checklist.

Checklist for Tuesday

Note: Schedules are approximate. Don’t worry if you run behind. Remember to take breaks every sixty to ninety minutes (or around 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day).

10 a.m.

Lightning Demos. Look at great solutions from a range of companies, including yours. Three minutes per demo. Capture good ideas with a quick drawing on the whiteboard. (Read more on page 96 in Sprint.)


Divide or swarm. Decide who will sketch which part of the map. If you’re targeting a big chunk of the map in your sprint, divide it up and assign someone to each section. (p. 102)

1 p.m.


2 p.m.

The Four-Step Sketch. Briefly explain the four steps. Everyone sketches. When you’re done, place the sketches in a pile and save them for tomorrow. (p. 109)

  1. Notes. Twenty minutes. Silently walk around the room and gather notes. (p. 110)
  2. Ideas. Twenty minutes. Privately jot down some rough ideas. Circle the most promising ones. (p. 111)
  3. Crazy 8s. Eight minutes. Fold a sheet of paper to create eight frames. Sketch a variation of one of your best ideas in each frame. Spend one minute per sketch. (p. 111)
  4. Solution sketch. Thirty to ninety minutes. Create a three-panel storyboard by sketching in three sticky notes on a sheet of paper. Make it self-explanatory. Keep it anonymous. Ugly is okay. Words matter. Give it a catchy title. (p. 114)

Key Ideas

  • Remix and improve. Every great invention is built on existing ideas. (p. 96)
  • Anyone can sketch. Most solution sketches are just rectangles and words. (p. 104)
  • Concrete beats abstract. Use sketches to turn abstract ideas into concrete solutions that can be assessed by others. (p. 106)
  • Work alone together. Group brainstorms don’t work. Instead, give each person time to develop solutions on his or her own. (p. 107)

Recruit Customers for Friday’s Test

Put someone in charge of recruiting. It will take an extra one or two hours of work each day during the sprint. (p. 119)

Recruit on Craigslist. Post a generic ad that will appeal to a wide audience. Offer compensation (we use a $100 gift card). Link to the screener survey. (p. 119)

Write a screener survey. Ask questions that will help you identify your target customers, but don’t reveal who you’re looking for. (p. 120)

Recruit customers through your network. If you need experts or existing customers, use your network to find customers. (p. 122)

Follow up with email and phone calls. Throughout the week, make contact with each customer to make sure he or she shows up on Friday.

Seven Essential Steps To Problem Solving

I stumbled upon a general blog on problem solving as I through experience today, find loosely interrelatable problems which lead to further solving the overall problem. Problems can lead to other problems which lead to further ones, and this can lead to two ways either being bogged down into trying to solve tiny small problems or you can go the other way and solving the greater problem for the better.

I had found this blog which is useful which involves looking at how you can tackle problems thoroughly. See http://www.mediate.com/articles/thicks.cfm

It is broken down to this. Here are seven-steps for an effective problem-solving process.

1. Identify the issues.

  • Be clear about what the problem is.
  • Remember that different people might have different views of what the issues are.
  • Separate the listing of issues from the identification of interests (that’s the next step!).

2. Understand everyone’s interests.

  • This is a critical step that is usually missing.
  • Interests are the needs that you want satisfied by any given solution. We often ignore our true interests as we become attached to one particular solution.
  • The best solution is the one that satisfies everyone’s interests.
  • This is the time for active listening. Put down your differences for awhile and listen to each other with the intention to understand.
  • Separate the naming of interests from the listing of solutions.

3. List the possible solutions (options)

  • This is the time to do some brainstorming. There may be lots of room for creativity.
  • Separate the listing of options from the evaluation of the options.

4. Evaluate the options.

  • What are the pluses and minuses? Honestly!
  • Separate the evaluation of options from the selection of options.

5. Select an option or options.

  • What’s the best option, in the balance?
  • Is there a way to “bundle” a number of options together for a more satisfactory solution?

6. Document the agreement(s).

  • Don’t rely on memory.
  • Writing it down will help you think through all the details and implications.

7. Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation.

  • Conditions may change. Make contingency agreements about foreseeable future circumstances (If-then!).
  • How will you monitor compliance and follow-through?
  • Create opportunities to evaluate the agreements and their implementation. (“Let’s try it this way for three months and then look at it.”)

TFL Hacks Itinerary Revealed

Just to confirm. I got through to the TFL Hacks with Hack Partners at We Work and bought the ticket today to attend. With that, there is a fantastic itinerary for the hackathon. Some of the details include an excursion to Reading by bus on Saturday before announcing finishing off back in London on the final day on Saturday with prizes of the Nintendo Switch.

Friday 24th March
14:00 – Registration ✍
14:30 – HackTrain Introduction
14:45 – Keynote Speakers
16:00 – Snacks Break
16:10 – Sponsor Challenges
16:30 – Networking & Drinks and Food served
17:00 – Pitching & Team formation
18:30 – Friday Hacking Starts!!!
21:00 – Photo Op at Parliament Square
22:00 – Leave for home/hotels

Saturday 25th March
8:30 – Breakfast at Trainline
9:00 – Hacking at Trainline HQ!!
12:00 – Lunch
16:00 – Depart with Reading Buses to Reading!
18:00 Arrive at Reading Buses’ depot
18:45 – Dinner
19:45 – Hacking Continued
23:30 – Supper
Sunday 26th March
Phoebe’s got some fun stuff
set up for us!
8:00 – Breakfast
8:45 – Hacking Continues
10:00 – Reading Buses leave for London
11:30 – Arrive at Crowne Plaza London, The City
12:00 – Lunch
14:00 – Final Pitches
16:30 – Tea
17:00 – Results, Closing & Dinner