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Summary: Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp

7 Profound Problem-Solving Techniques Used in the Sprint Method

Map the Problem

Determine the steps required to get the users/customers to a desired result. Find someone that has experience with this problem (so called ‘expert’) and ask them to verify your map.

The goal of developing a map is to reveal ONE event between the user and the end result that is more important than any other event at this particular time.

Book Summary: Sprint - How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

Ask “How might we…?”

List all the possible failure points on your map and then convert them into “How might we…?” questions.

Example: A ‘site crashes from too much traffic’ issue turns into “How might we prevent the site for crashing when traffic is high?” Converting an issue into a “How might we…?” question converts a problem into an interesting challenge, thus making your problem-solving more enjoyable.

“When we tried it, we came to appreciate how the open-ended, optimistic phrasing forced us to look for opportunities and challenges, rather than getting bogged down by problems or, almost worse, jumping to solutions too soon. And because every question shares the same format, it’s possible to read, understand, and evaluate a whole wall full of these notes at once.” – Sprint book

Gather a Team and Vote w/ Dots

WHY?…When each person votes with dots, visual patterns emerge. When all the dots (5 per person) are placed on the board containing various options, important issues start to emerge. Dot voting is a great way of limiting the endless back and forth discussion and discovering the biggest issues in less time.

HOW?…Give team members an equal collection of dot stickers to place on the wall of ideas.

Conduct Lightning Demos

Use a timer to search for and sketch examples. Reveal a new example every 3-5 minutes. Look inside and outside your domain/industry. Find out what other people have done to solve the problem you’re dealing with.

Silently Sketch

Some people have the ability to persuade others to adopt their solution with a great presentation (even if the idea is bad!). The final solution selection should be based on the quality of the solution, not the charisma of the presenter. To ensure the best idea wins every time, everyone needs to sketch their ideas:

“Everyone can write words, draw boxes, and express his or her ideas with the same clarity. If you can’t draw (or rather, if you think you can’t draw), don’t freak out. Plenty of people worry about putting pen to paper, but anybody—absolutely anybody—can sketch a great solution.” – Sprint book

Elect a Decider

Select one person to make all the final decisions.

WHY?…Doing so limits the endless discussion surrounding a decision and allows the team to move forward confidently and swiftly. Since you should be testing your solution long before it is fully developed, it’s OK if the decisions aren’t perfect!

Validate w/ 5 People

According to data from 1000’s of user tests, 85% of the potential issues of your proposed solution are revealed after testing the solution with JUST 5 people.

Testing your solution on more than 5 people yields diminishing returns.

“Lurking beneath every goal are dangerous assumptions. The longer those assumptions remain unexamined, the greater the risk.” – Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky & Braden Kowitz


“Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days” by Jake Knapp is a practical and insightful guidebook that offers a step-by-step process for tackling complex problems and testing innovative ideas within a short timeframe. Written by a design partner at Google Ventures, this book presents the concept of a “design sprint,” a five-day framework that enables teams to streamline their decision-making process, save time, and achieve better results.

In “Sprint,” Jake Knapp outlines a detailed blueprint for conducting a design sprint, which is a time-bound process aimed at answering crucial questions, generating solutions, and validating ideas. The book is divided into several sections, each covering a specific phase of the design sprint, including understanding the problem, sketching and ideation, decision-making, prototyping, and testing.

Throughout the book, Knapp shares his personal experiences and provides real-world examples of successful design sprints conducted by various organizations. He emphasizes the importance of collaboration, cross-functional teams, and the need for a focused approach to problem-solving. Knapp also introduces key concepts such as the “map,” “sketch,” “decide,” “prototype,” and “test,” which serve as the core building blocks of the design sprint process.

“Sprint” is a highly practical and actionable book that offers a structured framework for addressing complex problems efficiently. Knapp’s writing style is engaging and accessible, making it easy for readers to follow along and understand the concepts presented. The author’s expertise and experience shine through in his explanations and examples, providing readers with a clear understanding of how to apply the design sprint methodology.

One of the standout features of this book is its emphasis on inclusivity and collaboration. Knapp stresses the importance of having a diverse group of individuals with varying skill sets and perspectives involved in the sprint process. This promotes the generation of innovative ideas and ensures that all potential challenges and opportunities are considered.

The step-by-step nature of the book makes it an excellent resource for both beginners and experienced professionals. Each phase of the design sprint is explained in detail, along with practical tips, best practices, and potential pitfalls to avoid. The inclusion of real-life case studies further enhances the book’s value, as readers can see how the design sprint methodology has been successfully implemented in different contexts.

While the book primarily focuses on the process itself, it also touches upon the underlying principles and mindset required for effective problem-solving. Knapp encourages readers to adopt a user-centric approach, emphasizing the importance of empathy and understanding the needs of the target audience. This holistic perspective adds depth to the book and reinforces the idea that the design sprint is not just a mechanical process but a mindset shift.

“Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days” by Jake Knapp is an invaluable resource for individuals and teams looking to streamline their problem-solving process and test ideas rapidly. With its practical advice, real-world examples, and step-by-step guidance, the book equips readers with the tools and knowledge needed to conduct effective design sprints. Whether you are a startup founder, product manager, designer, or anyone involved in innovation and decision-making, “Sprint” provides a comprehensive framework for achieving better results in a shorter time frame.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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