Douglas is a rare individual. Gifted in artistic, communicative & progressive ways, he is a leader who helps others lead.
I was privileged to have Douglas facilitate Service Direct’s first ever official Design Sprint. As as the “Decider”, I was challenged and encouraged by Douglas to interact, organize, converse, and question with my team in all new ways.
Within the demanding and rewarding environment of the Sprint, we were forced to make decisions and gain rapid consensus to move onto next steps and push our expectations through to the humble but oh so crucial moments of Actual User / Prototype testing.
So, what did our sprint actually look like?
Day 1 & 2
Prototype Scoping & Individual ideas. We had to resolve several seemingly conflicting original opinions from members of our team. As the Decider, I had elaborate in my mind and struggled with the smaller problems or pieces that others had brought to the table. However, after a lot of conversation and guidance from Douglas — I began to see the trees amongst the forest.
We ended up integrating several of the excellent smaller ideas into my more extensive plan. I felt like we were able to pull the team together around this more massive solution— even though it was going to be tough to test. Day 2 was when we began to wonder if what we were doing was going to be testable with folks who had never seen or heard of our service before.
Day 3 & 4
Choosing the actual walls of our prototype & building it. As the boundaries of what we were prototyping started to emerge, it became clear that we were going to have to setup our testers by either showing or telling them our ‘sales pitch’. We realized that we were going to have a problem getting our testers to complete a form on a webpage — and a complicated form at that — without at least prepping them solidly on what was happening.
Douglas presented an option to use our current webpages & flow combined with the same basic process for a competitor and much more well-known company. It turned out to be a great idea. We decided to start our testers on a Search Results page with a prominent search term already input and a couple of relevant results for our testers to choose from.
Testing! Make or break, Friday arrived and we were ready to see what folks thought of our prototype. I was nervous about getting real value from the process. I felt like we had chosen a big hairy problem to test and our ‘prototype’ was pretty long. Douglas just looked at me, smiled and shrugged. He knew the secret — that no matter what our ideas were about this, the Testers were going to open us up to insights that we had not considered yet.
He was right. Even though some of our Testers didn’t have time to get through the whole prototype, we learned huge lessons. We learned about our positioning, about specific words, about how images that we thought were clear made our Testers feel entirely different. We learned how difficult Pricing is and how hard it is to make people feel comfortable when they are in an unfamiliar space.
Overall, we learned the critical truth that I think the Design Sprint Process is all about. No matter what you think or how much time you’ve put into your work.
It flat out doesn’t matter until your Customers put their hands on it and you see how they actually interact and feel in real life.
Douglas was crucial helping us advance through my grandiose expectations and our team’s all important and yet divergent ideas to arrive at actual prototypes, real takeaways and even better — a fantastic understanding of new ways we can create, debate, develop and test new ideas.
We have substantially changed for the better after our Design Sprint and I will always have deep gratitude, remembering this week as one of the crucial growing points along our company’s history.