InsighTs by Bardo

How to turn Design Sprints into remote workshops?

Today, remote is mandatory so we decided to show you how we run design sprints. Hope this post helps.

We are a company based in Barcelona who works with clients from New York, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, London, Madrid, Berlin and so on so remote Design Sprints aren’t something new for us. We started out several years ago when we noticed there was a tendency of no early validation, reckless spending and uninformed decisions. This tendency, of course, still exists. At the beginning we worked with in-person Design Sprints and quickly decided we had to make some changes and adapt it to our remote style of working.

Today, remote is mandatory so we thought it might be interesting to show you how we do them and hope it helps. For those of you who speak Spanish, we’ve organized a design conference called Digital Signal a couple of weeks ago and our talk was all about remote Design Sprints, you might want to check it out.

So, let’s start. First things first: we use Miro. There’s a template for remote Design Sprints here if you want to download it.

Remote design sprints board in Miro by Bardo

At Bardo we work to turn ideas into real products and problems into solutions. Our clients usually have amazing projects going on and wish to build new things, improve processes, create new businesses or maybe face new challenges and they come to us to find some way of organizing all these great things they are thinking of and turn them into something real. We help them understand their challenge and define what they want to build or solve and create a roadmap that will lead to the confident building and implementation of this project, product, service, whatever. This is why we use Design Sprints as part of our process. Basically, we avoid something like this from happening:

Why run a Design Sprint

The basic Design Sprint 2.0 structure (an update from the classic Jake Knapps’ version) looks like this:

Design Sprint Jake Knapp week

And each day looks something like this:

Day to day design sprint

You’ll need to cover two key roles: decider and facilitator. Also, you need to work with a team of 4-8 people. Working with a smaller team makes exercises loose strength and with more people the whole process becomes a bit messy. The facilitator will make sure that everything runs smoothly and the decider can be the CEO, the product manager, an important stakeholder, someone that has authority over the project. The rest of the team is created according to the product or service we are focusing on. Sometimes you need to add people from sales, some other time you’d rather have someone from marketing, it’s your choice and it depends on which perspectives you believe you’ll need.

Design Sprint team

To make the Design Sprint work remotely we use Miro. We break up the Design Sprint into different exercises and choose which are going to be synchronous and which are going to be asynchronous. We don’t think maintaining a six-hour call will be good for anybody in the team so we’d rather divide sessions and meet on shorter calls to keep focus and attention.

While doing a remote Design Sprint you as a facilitator won’t be able to explain every instruction to the team and be together with them every time a question or doubt arises so preparation is key. You need to plan out the Sprint and try to be as clear as possible. Of course, the Sprint team will probably ask you questions by email, Slack or the tool you use to communicate but you must make a huge effort to keep things crystal clear to save time. You’ll also need to send them the Miro link beforehand so that they are not using the tool for the very first time on the first day of the Design Sprint.

One more thing you might need to do as preparation for the Sprint is getting to know your client’s business: who are the stakeholders? What’s the challenge? What’s the industry like? Who are the competitors? You might want to jump into a few short interviews the week before the Sprint to try and clear out this doubts and do a better job at facilitating. You can also offer a quick intro to Miro for those of the team who aren’t familiar with the tool or a quick call to align expectations and show how the week is going to be like.

For the Sprint week we recommend facilitators to make video-sharing mandatory so that the team keeps focused and get to feel they are in a meeting. Also, keep calls under 2 hours and be sure to be in an appropriate environment without interruptions or loud noises.

On the Miro template we explain how the week is going to be, what each exercise looks like and how long each of them take and show a schedule for each day that includes synchronous and asynchronous sessions. This will be great for you as a facilitator because you won’t loose track of the activities. We also add individual working areas and common areas so that the whole Sprint board remains tidy. Plus we prepare red dots for the votes and let them ready to be used.

It’s key to be really clear on how each synchronous meeting is going to be. That’s to say, you need to add the link to the meeting in Miro, detail how long the session will take and explain if they need to do any homework. You’ll also need to add these sessions in the calendar to prevent anyone from forgetting about it.

These synchronous workshop-sessions will take place during day 1 and day 2 of the Sprint specifically when we define the Sprint questions and the Map and when there's voting. Then we are going to move on to build the prototype and test it. For user tests, we usually use Lookback as it records the user’s screen and his or her face to show immediate reactions. It’s also really easy to download each video or to share them with the rest of the Sprint team.

If you have any doubts regarding any particular exercise and how to do it remotely, please write an email at! We'll be glad to help you.

Juan Manuel Abrigo

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