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Why did Lean UX and Design Sprint change product design for ever?

There are two books that changed the history of product design and with Bardo we sponsored a workshop with both co-authors. Last Sunday we had the honor of sharing the day with Jeff Gothelf and Jake Knapp and we thought it was fair to make a post explaining why Lean UX and Design Sprint have marked a paradigm shift in the work processes within the design and tech industries.

What do Lean UX and Design Sprint have in common? Well, a lot of things. First, both Gothelf and Knapp suggest that time and money are wasted on ideas that don't work. For example, there are hundreds of thousands of apps in each store that don't have a single download. Behind each of those apps you’ll find teams, agencies, studios, developers, designers, communicators, CEOs, COOs, CTOs and more people. First point? Validate your ideas.

Also, both methodologies are based on the fact that the world, driven by technology, is changing too fast. Taking this into account, we realize that we cannot predict what will happen with the industry, with our users or with the market and, consequently, we cannot know for sure what will work and what will not.

So, we have to be flexible and fast enough to design products and services quickly, react and adapt to unexpected changes and continually iterate. We cannot be 3, 6 or 12 months waiting to test a product or service and, it seems obvious but we still have to clarify it, we always have to test products or services. In addition, it is crucial that any organization maintains a work culture that fosters collaboration, agility and innovation. This is the only way they can continuously improve their products and services and their work processes.


Lean UX, based on the fundamentals of agile development, and Design Sprint, based on the fundamentals of Design Thinking, focus on the user, reducing the waste produced during the design cycle and improving UX through multiple iterations without loosing time while producing  documentation. This does not mean not working on research but optimizing it. There are 3 key phases: build, measure, learn.

Sprint and Lean assume that the first design of a product will always be incorrect and will need an iteration. This is the reason why it is considered more important to launch a prototype developed using minimum resources and start collecting feedback from real users as soon as possible than spending three, six or twelve months designing and developing a product or service based on a hunch. The outcome will probably be outdated at the time it’s released


Both theories have as a key point the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team while solving a problem. You cannot solve problems by isolating areas and having them working separately. From the synergy between people from different departments arise the most transformative and forceful ideas. This is the only way to create MVPs from a transversal perspective, taking into account, at the same time, the emotional, usable, trustworthy and functional traits.

The Design Sprint incorporates a technique to ensure that, although it seems contradictory, the brainstorming of a multidisciplinary team is structured, follows a timetable and is not carried out during infinite meetings where the one who shouts louder or has a more clear idea is right. The Design Sprint decentralizes discussions and gives the decision maker the power to choose, after hearing different perspectives, which path to take.

Build, measure, learn. The central idea is to use as input the ideas and hypotheses of a team to create a prototype that will then be tested and on which iterations will be made. Both Design Sprint and Lean UX crucial ways of working for bot companies with few resources and large corporations that want to maximize their output and reduce losses. It is not something that I am just assuming or predicting, we have already seen Google, Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Blue Bottle Coffee, Flatiron Health and many more companies and startups inside and outside Silicon Valley implement Lean and Sprint in their processes and projects.

Design Sprint and Lean UX confirm the theory that the phrase "every company is a software company" has become outdated. Today, design has occupied that transformative role in large, medium and small companies. It is the design that will allow us to validate our ideas and stop spending time and money on products and services that users don’t want.

Solving real problems in the most efficient way and generating an excellent user experience are key points in any company today. It is no longer about understanding technology and innovation as new, shiny, unattainable and expensive things. Today design allows us to find a way to transfer value from organizations to users, to identify problems, align teams and plan, within an increasingly fast world, clear and safe actions.

The main idea is to stop following trends and not build an app just because everyone has one or use artificial intelligence because "it’s the future". We need to create spaces within organizations that allow us to question and think where to go before making a decision that’ll costs us a lot of time, effort and money.



Juan Manuel Abrigo
CEO - Product Strategist
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