Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky

Co-authors of Sprint, & Partners at GV

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 15, 2016

Discussion

John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
We are Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. We're design partners at GV and the authors of Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. Together with our partners at GV, we've run more than 100 sprints with startups like Slack, Nest, Foundation Medicine, and Blue Bottle Coffee. We used to work as designers on Gmail (Jake), YouTube (John), Microsoft Encarta (Jake), and FeedBurner (John). But that's ancient history. These days we work with startups in the GV portfolio and write and speak about what we've learned.
Kwame Som-Pimpong@kwamesompimpong · Founder, CultureBanx
What advice do you have for government agencies that are looking to incorporate design sprints into their operations?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@kwamesompimpong Great question, and a tricky one, because (unless the government agency is building a product) you'll have to be more inventive with your prototype and your test. In the book, we talk about a prototype tested by One Medical, who wanted to test a new kind of clinic for families. They modified an existing clinic for one night—basically they "acted out" a fully functioning service in a small way so they could test it. I think that same approach could be applied to many government services. You also might test the way the service is described by prototyping and testing a "brochure" (which might be a website, advertising, phone line... any place where people find the service)
Kwame Som-Pimpong@kwamesompimpong · Founder, CultureBanx
@jakek This is helpful. Thanks!
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@kwamesompimpong Awesome. You're very welcome!
Bryan Landers@bryanlanders · Design Principal, Backstage Capital
Do you recommend any specific kinds of research before design sprints begin? For example, the 4-day research sprint you've documented (https://library.gv.com/the-gv-re...) or similar. (Forgive me if this is in the book, I pre-ordered, but it hasn't arrived yet! 😉) Thanks for all of your amazing work!
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@bryanlanders Well, first, thanks for your order! :) We actually have an FAQ about this in the book. And the answer too... it would be cruel if we just printed the question without the answer ;) Anyway. Research before a sprint is always good. We do it a lot with our portfolio companies, and it really helps Monday's exercises to have those "inputs" from research. It's especially useful when a team hasn't done research before, or when they don't know a ton about the problem at hand. But, the reason we didn't make it Step 0 in the book is that we've found teams usually already have tons of knowledge about their customers, their market, and their product. They've done research, they have data, they have ideas, etc. Research is always helpful, but unless they haven't done ANY research, it's more efficient to prototype and test a concrete idea.
Peter J. Davison@ourmaninto · Ideas
@bryanlanders Thanks for sharing that link
Bryan Landers@bryanlanders · Design Principal, Backstage Capital
@jazer "Research is always helpful, but unless they haven't done ANY research, it's more efficient to prototype and test a concrete idea." Very helpful. I look forward to reading the FAQs! Thank you.
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@bryanlanders Haha, the FAQs are at the very end, so hopefully you'll read the actual book too! :)
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@jazer @bryanlanders If you start with the FAQs, we won't judge.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What are some of the key pieces of advice you often find yourself offering to your startup clients, time and time again?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@ems_hodge "Perhaps a sprint would be useful for this problem."
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@jakek @ems_hodge A few more: "Map out the most important customer stories and make sure your product supports those." "Talk to our partner Michael Margolis about running customer research." "There are six essential design skills. Which do you have? Which do you need to prioritize?" https://twitter.com/jazer/status... "There's gotta be a way to prototype this before you invest the the and money in building the real thing." "Don't be clever. Just tell your customers what your product does." "Getting out of the building isn't enough. You need to put in some extra effort to make customer interviews worthwhile." https://library.gv.com/getting-o...
Jack Smith@_jacksmith · Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
Jake, John - really glad that you're sharing your wisdom with a wider audience with this new book. I was wondering - how long did the book take to write, and how did the process compare to your expectations?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@_jacksmith I predicted it would take 90 days to write the book. It took... a bit longer. The entire process—from first prototype to publication—took about 18 months. But the bulk of the writing happened between April and July. So my estimate was about right, there is just a lot of extra stuff I didn't account for: Editing, illustrating, re-editing, re-illustrating, etc. etc. took a long time. But it was very fun, which was what I hoped for!
Mave@marvinspyrka
Are you going to produce an interactive online course based on the Sprint philosophy? And if yes, I would be very happy to contribute 😏
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@marvinspyrka Good idea! We're just scratching the surface on helping people run sprints. Short answer: we're not planning an interactive online course. But that doesn't mean we won't do it in the future! BUT! We are announcing a new thing called Sprint Week! It's an event where teams around the world will sign up to run sprints in parallel. We're going to help out by posting daily videos, doing online Q&A (kinda like this!), and sharing interesting stories across the sprint community. You can sign up here: http://www.thesprintbook.com/spr...
Mave@marvinspyrka
@jazer GREAT and thank you John! I will sign up for the Sprint Week immediately. Great idea and maybe there comes the time where you're going to plan an interactive online course. I seriously believe there will be a whole bunch of people, happy to pay for such a service. Kudos @jazer and @jakek 😍💯
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey! What are your favourite questions to ask founders?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@bentossell "What keeps you up at night?" I know that sounds like a cliche, but it's a great way to frame a sprint: it focuses effort on the biggest question—the kind that's worth clearing your calendar to answer.
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@jakek @bentossell It's also useful because we, as "design partners" and designers, often get questions about "design stuff," like UI design, branding, etc. Those things are super important and we love to help with them... but by asking "what keeps you up at night?" it shifts the conversation away from the obvious and into the core issues that founders are struggling with.
Anthony Broad-Crawford@broadcrawford · I like stuff
I've been executing design sprints since you first start blogging about them @ GV (thank you so, so much for releasing these to the world). Is there enough "new" content, advice, battle scars, retrospectives in your book that I should pick it up?
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@broadcrawford Definitely! Or at least, we think so :) There are three big things that are special about the book: 1- It has tons of real stories from real sprints we've done. (Including times we messed up and what we learned.) 2- It has way more detail about how to run a sprint. We literally give hour-by-hour instructions. 3- The sprint process itself has evolved a lot since we wrote those blog posts. We think it's a lot better now :)
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Thanks so much for joining us today, I would love to hear about the most common design mistakes early startups make and what advice you give to them?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@harrystebbings Not spending enough time figuring out how to explain the value of their new product to customers (and understanding how customers react to their explanation). Too often marketing is seen as a last step, but marketing is actually a great place to start building a product that will really matter to people. It's a critical surface.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What are your thoughts on Pixar's Braintrust? Did this have any part to play in your sprint process/analysis with startups?
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@bentossell No direct part, but we both read Creativity Inc while we were working on Sprint and it definitely influenced us :)
Kevin Beatty@kevinbeatty · Startup Product Leader and Executive
How familiar are you with Jeff Patton's Story Mapping exercise and at what point would you suggest a team complete a Sprint vs. Story Mapping excercise? The two seem similar but very different at times.
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@kevinbeatty Not familiar at all. But it sounds interesting. Thanks, I'll look into it!
Kevin Beatty@kevinbeatty · Startup Product Leader and Executive
@jazer Regardless of your knowledge of Story Mapping then, I guess another way of phrasing the question is what is the realistic cadence you see more mature product teams running Sprints?
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@kevinbeatty Are you asking about how often to do sprints? We don't think sprints are an every-week kind of thing. A healthy and productive pattern is to do a burst of 2-3 sprints when kicking off a project or initiative. Let's say it's the start of a new quarter, and your company's goal is to increase conversation rates for customers visiting your website. That'd be a great time to run a few sprints to figure out which ideas to pursue and execute on.
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@kevinbeatty That said, there are tons of techniques from sprints you can use in everyday work and life. Jake and I apply a lot of the ideas... for example, I structure my time by taking all of my meetings one day per week. We both limit distractions by turning off email and Safari on our iPhones. When we find ourselves stuck in an abstract debate, we'll take 10 minutes to write down or sketch what we think we're talking about.
David Mathew@mathewda · Software Producer, sep.com
@kevinbeatty We use Jeff's material quite a bit. If you wanted to use a story map I think doing quick limited story map (tightly timeboxed) early in the sprint could help inform your next couple days. Story maps help you try to understand what the user is trying to accomplish, sprints seem more oriented toward building something fast and testing it. I think you're right about the overlap. I think a story map could help direct a sprint, and a sprint could help inform, correct, and deepen your story map.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Who is the target audience for your book?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@andrewett We wrote the book to be useful (and hopefully enjoyable!) for anyone who's working on a big project. That might be a startup founder, a designer, engineer, PM, marketer, or salesperson... but it might be a teacher, student, someone who works at a non-profit—really anyone who works on a team.
Ruban Khalid@originalgoatee · Product Designer
What are some other methods/books you can recommend around design sprints?
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@originalgoatee As far as I know, there's only one other book that's specifically about design sprints. I haven't read it yet. In another response I mentioned a bunch of books/authors/people who have influenced me and the sprint process: https://www.producthunt.com/live...
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@jazer @originalgoatee Some more books I like that strongly relate to sprints: - Just Enough Research by Erika Hall - Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug - The Lean Startup by Eric Ries - Change by Design by Tim Brown - Getting Real by 37signals
Holt@holtpagano · UX Designer, ConsumerAffairs
Jake and John, I enjoyed SPRINT very much, thank you for the insights. My question is a bit off topic, I'm trying to find a UX master to have coffee with/google hang out or something, to pick their brain for 30 minutes to an hour...any suggestions on how to go about that?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@holtpagano if you'd like to hang out and ask *us* some questions... the next 15 minutes right here are a good place! :)
Holt@holtpagano · UX Designer, ConsumerAffairs
@jakek I see what you did there...im having a hard time gathering users for interviews, even when dangling gift cards in front of them, any advice on how to round up users for customer interviews, when no one seems to be taking the bait?
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@holtpagano @jakek Hey Holt, we have a lot of detail about that here: https://library.gv.com/the-gv-re...
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@holtpagano @jakek My first question to you would be, where are you recruiting customers? And what kind of customers are you looking for?
Holt@holtpagano · UX Designer, ConsumerAffairs
@jakek we currently run sprints but they are more dev focused. We only have two designers that sort of hop sprint to sprint whenever/wherever they are needed most. I would love to implement a design sprint, but since there is only two of us, we are stretched pretty thin as it is...do you see any room or reason for a design sprint within this structure?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
Like John said!
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
Sorry about this, apparently I don't know how to use The Internet.
Mave@marvinspyrka
@jakek 😂 (Sorry for that!)
Pramod Dikshith@pramoddikshith · Senior Product Manager
Do you help non GV companies run design sprint to get familiarized?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@pramoddikshith We ourselves only do sprints with GV companies. But the book is very much a DIY guide—I'm confident you'll be able to run a sprint if you read it.
Pramod Dikshith@pramoddikshith · Senior Product Manager
Do you help non GV companies run 1 sprint to understand and get familiarized?
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What's your favorite part about PH's design? 😏
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@andrewett The big photo of us at the top of this page is pretty cool!
Bryan Landers@bryanlanders · Design Principal, Backstage Capital
@jakek @andrewett I tried to grab that photo for a tweet about this event and learned the crop decapitated you guys. 😂 I'm sure it was a lovely shot though. Nice promo photos on Getty Images, btw!
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@bryanlanders @andrewett Whoa I haven't seen those... link?
Bryan Landers@bryanlanders · Design Principal, Backstage Capital
@jakek @andrewett You bet! I did a google image search for both of your names. Images with Getty watermark link out to: http://www.gettyimages.com/detai...
Corey O@coreyo · Senior Product Manager at Madison Reed
I've got two. 1. What's the most funny thing that's happened during a customer interview? 2. What's one thing that you thought was very valuable but didn't make it into the book for one reason or another?
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@coreyo 1. This wasn't in a sprint, but one time a few years ago at Google there was a research study and the participant had never used a mouse before (and the setup was a computer with a mouse). This is actually sort of understandable—the guy had used laptops and trackpads his whole life. So the interview went a bit off the rails. Shows the importance of screening customers (which we talk about a lot in the book)
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@coreyo 2. Speaking of research, it's an excellent practice to talk to customers before beginning a sprint. We intentionally didn't include this in the book because a) you can have a great sprint without pre-research and b) it's often quite difficult to get that research done (and get the team engaged) in a productive way without doing it as part of a sprint. But if you can, it's rad.
Umit Gokce@ubg · UX/Product Designer, Innovation Educator
What are your thoughts on remote design sprints for a distributed team using remote collaboration apps? BTW, I'm enjoying the new book!
Jake Knapp@jakek · Google Ventures
@ubg IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, run the sprint together in the same place. So much better. But if you can't, Mural is the best tool that I've come across for this kind of remote collaboration. It's definitely best to plan the sprint with a "hub" location where most of the interaction will take place and then have the remote participants join for specific parts (like as experts on Monday, and they can sketch on Tuesday). If you do the whole thing on Mural and make it work, that is awesome and I would love it if you wrote a blog post about it and sent it my way. I'd love to know the perfect recipe for it.
Umit Gokce@ubg · UX/Product Designer, Innovation Educator
@jakek OK, thanks. I'll put together a post before too long. And FYI I'm using Mural to do a modified sprint with my distributed team for IDEO's human-centered design course.
John Zeratsky@jazer · Design partner at GV, author of Sprint
@ubg @jakek Awesome!