While design sprints were first championed by designers, design sprints aren’t just for designers. The truth is that being a designer isn’t necessary at all to implementing design sprints. 

Though many people associate design thinking with the role of the designer, experience in design isn’t a prerequisite. Anyone can use design methodology to host transformative design sprints. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the following topics:

  • Design Thinking Benefits Everyone
  • What Are Design Sprints?
  • Who Runs Design Sprints? 
  • What Do Design Sprint Facilitators Do?
  • The Power of Expert Facilitation
  • What it Takes to Be a Facilitator 
  • Facilitator Certification Programs
  • Facilitation Certification and Beyond

Design Thinking Benefits Everyone

Design thinking is at the core of any design sprint and centers around prioritizing the needs of the end-user. Just as design sprints aren’t solely for designers, design thinking is one methodology that benefits everyone. 

71% of companies report that design thinking improved their working culture while 69% share that the methodology accelerated their innovation processes. 

Ultimately, design thinking is a framework, not a form of design. Whether you’re an actual designer or you’re a member of the c-suite, applying design thinking in the workplace will have incredible benefits for your business. Everyone can learn design thinking and apply this approach by running a design sprint. 

What Are Design Sprints?

Design sprints are a five-day process designed to answer critical questions through design, ideation, prototyping, and testing. In a design sprint, facilitators aim to merge business strategy, behavior science, innovation, and design thinking into one innovative process.
The design sprint originated in 2010 as Jake Knapp’s brainchild. Knapp was Inspired by Google’s product development culture, IDEO design thinking workshops, and similar innovative ideas from industry leaders. In 2012, he brought the design sprint process to Google Ventures and the team continues to refine the process further.

Who Runs Design Sprints? 

While design sprints quickly gained popularity with startups and tech companies, businesses of any industry and size run design sprints as well. Design sprints are an excellent solution for brands searching to develop a digital product or looking to solve complex problems. 

Jake Knapp shares, “When we talk to startups about sprints, we encourage them to go after their most important problem. Running a sprint requires a lot of energy and focus. Don’t go for the small win, or the nice-to-have project, because people won’t bring their best efforts. They probably won’t even clear their schedules in the first place.”  

Design sprints are ideal for companies with a desire to reduce their invested resources and accelerate learning as they generate and explore new ideas and concepts. These sprints help improve design and development as they jumpstart an innovative and fast-paced environment where results are guaranteed. 

What Do Design Sprint Facilitators Do?

A design sprint facilitator must guide their team through the sprint’s 5-phase process as they manage the dynamics of the group. Facilitators of the most effective design sprints are experts in design thinking and understand what it takes to lead their team to success. 

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It takes a confident and highly motivated facilitator to navigate the complex process of a design sprint. The most effective design sprint facilitators have the necessary knowledge and the capacity to share their expertise with others in the intense and fast-paced environment of a sprint.

Most design sprint facilitators aren’t designers. Ideal design sprint facilitators often have the following roles:

  • Strategists
  • Project Managers
  • Product Managers
  • Agile Coaches
  • UX Leads
  • Innovation Managers
  • UX Designers 
  • Design Thinkers
  • Workshop Facilitators 

Expert facilitation starts with the desire to champion design thinking and spearhead the innovative process of the sprint. Interested in improving your facilitation skills? With a facilitator certification, anyone can hone their facilitation skills and run game-changing design sprints on their own. 

The Power of Expert Facilitation

The power of the design sprint lies in the expertise of the facilitator. In a fast-paced environment like a design sprint, it’s crucial to have a facilitator that can pull the best results out of their team, keep the group on track, and generate the intended deliverables in the available time frame. 

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Good design sprint facilitation boils down to three essentials:

  • The capability to encourage synergy while leading a team to effective outcomes
  • The capacity to adapt and iterate
  • The ability to engender creativity in others 

When preparing to lead a design sprint, facilitators should strive to:

  • Align all participants to solve a problem 
  • Avoid delays while decreasing time to market
  • Encourage rapid prototyping and testing of a solution

What it Takes to Be a Design Sprint Facilitator 

Design sprints hinge on the overarching question: What is the human need behind my process, method, service, or product? As such, becoming a better facilitator starts with learning the essentials of the process and a keen understanding of the five phases of a sprint:

  1. Empathize: Facilitators share the perspective of their target consumer, customer, and audience to address the problem 
  2. Define: Define the problem with a human-centered, tangible statement 
  3. Ideate: Brainstorm to generate as many ideas as possible around this data
  4. Prototype: Experiment and prototype possible solutions to best solve the problem
  5. Test: Refine ideas by testing to create the most appropriate solution

In addition to understanding the design sprint process, facilitators know how best to prepare for design sprints. Ahead of a five-day sprint, facilitators will identify the most cohesive agenda, the best tools for the job, and the proper environment for the session. 

Facilitators that are serious about executing effective design sprints should explore design sprint facilitator certification to take their skills to the next level. 

Facilitator Certification Programs

The best way to equip yourself with the knowledge, tools, and confidence required to lead successful sprints is through a facilitator certification program

Voltage Control’s Facilitator Program aligns IAF (International Association of Facilitators) competencies to provide participants with opportunities to practice, earn feedback, and learn the skills required to lead next-level sprints for your clients or company. 

In the facilitator certification program, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Cultivate a professional facilitator identity
  • Reflect on areas of strength and opportunities to grow
  • Implement the most appropriate facilitating approaches and methods
  • Select the best tools and methods for your needs

Following a design sprint facilitator certification course, you’ll earn certificates of completion, ultimately receiving full certification once all courses are complete. 

Facilitation Certification and Beyond

While facilitation itself is fairly simple, applying design methodology in the most productive ways takes practice. Voltage Control’s facilitator certification program features the following:

  • Facilitation Foundations
    • This is an introduction to facilitation core competencies. Instructors model various facilitation methods to allow learners the opportunity to practice
  • Facilitation Electives
    • Elective courses allow for additional exploration and application in key focus areas 
  • Facilitation Capstone
    • Course members will create a professional facilitator portfolio to show competency in foundation areas and identify a plan for continued long-term growth 

All successful design sprints begin with a confident facilitator that understands design methodology and possesses the skills for expert facilitation. Becoming a better facilitator starts with a facilitation program that will give you the practice and training you need to strengthen your skills.

Become a better facilitator today! Sign up to get more information about the Voltage facilitator certification program!

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