Introducing The Stitcher 2.0—Your Design Sprint Scrum Master

While we follow the 5 Day Design Sprint closely, we also iterate on the process. Earlier this year, we tried a few new things on prototyping day and, after some thoughtful iteration, we are delighted by something we uncovered — specifically, the evolution of the Stitcher role and the tools they need to succeed.

A team discussion among computers

In the Design Sprint, it’s important that your entire Sprint team actively contribute towards the prototype. Typically, we assign many of the jobs identified in the original Sprint book, such as Maker, Writer, Asset Collector, and Interviewer. But, one role that we have seen evolve the most is the Stitcher, which is the person who typically brought all the assets together in InVision. But lately, we’ve seen this role grow, change, and utilize some handy tools that we’d like to share. Read on to find out what the Stitcher 2.0 looks like!

The Stitcher 2.0

In order for your makers to stay heads down on creating the prototype, we’ve found that it’s critical to have one person responsible for organizing and prioritizing all of the content and feedback.

In this way, our Stitcher is much like the “scrum master” for the prototype. They make sure that tasks are moving along (I describe our Kanban board below) and that all assets are organized in a way that is easy for the makers to pull into the prototype.

The Stitcher 2.0 is much like the “scrum master” for the prototype.

It is especially helpful if the Stitcher has access and is able to make edits to the prototype. This will ease the burden on the makers as the stitcher can drop edits in along the way.

PROTIP: While it may be tempting for the Stitcher to edit the copy as it is coming in, we discourage this and ask that s/he trust the team.

A prototyping session
Working with post it notes

Kanban Boards are Essential

From the beginning, we have used a Kanban board during prototyping so that we have a visual overview of all tasks and who is responsible for each task. Usually, we have used a physical Kanban, made on the whiteboard. The Stitcher uses this tool to make sure everything is moving along and who to ask for an asset.

Kanban: a Japanese manufacturing system in which the supply of components is regulated through the use of an instruction card sent along the production line. From Japanese, Kanban is literally translated as sign board or visual signal.

From the very first time we introduced it, the Kanban was a big hit. It kept everyone engaged and they all loved pitching in and doing their part. As is often the case, this new innovation came with its own baggage. Now that we have numerous people creating and sharing copy, icons, images, video, stats, and data, the makers were getting overwhelmed by never-ending email threads. Not only was it a nightmare to scroll through, but it was also impossible to tell which version was authoritative.

Douglas Ferguson working

Our Experiment with Google Docs

We experimented for a time with using Google Docs to allow the team to seamlessly collaborate and to have one source of truth for versioning.

Unfortunately, Google Docs proved to have two issues of its own: first, it compresses images, which makes them unusable for prototypes and second, many of our enterprise clients block Google Docs. We needed to find something different for organization.

Mural for the Win

We are now using Mural to organize our prototyping efforts, which works wonderfully. Not only does it support collaborating and sharing the copy (and uncompressed images!), we can easily build a Kanban board with virtual Post-its.

When the team is conformable with Mural we have them all join and drop their work into the workspace. Otherwise, the Stitcher will collect copy and assets via email or other team communication tools. Once in Mural, the Stitcher organizes the assets by screen to seamlessly integrate with the prototype. Typically, the Stitcher will do a few passes with the team to make sure everything is accurate in Mural and before spending the time to update the prototype.

Another fantastic thing about Mural is that is quickly becoming the tool of choice for enterprise UX teams and is an approved application so we don’t run into firewall or other security issues.

We love using Mural for collaborating, and as a Kanban board.
We love using Mural for collaborating, and as a Kanban board.

PROTIP: Name the cells of your storyboard with letters and numbers for better organization. We label our columns with numbers and our rows with letters. This allows us to refer to cells as A1, B4, C3, P0, etc. for tasks and asset organization to avoid confusion or long, unwieldy names.

The Stitcher & Playbacks

Also in the spirit of including everyone, we have regular readouts with the team during interview days. This helps to gather feedback along the way. The Stitcher also has a role here — he or she also collects feedback so that the maker(s) will have an organized and prioritized list of changes to the prototype.

Sprint time
Group working through design sprint

Thanks for reading about how we’ve evolved the role of the Stitcher in Design Sprints. Please reach out if you have any questions or ideas to share!