How to implement an innovation sprint [Ultimate Guide]11 min read

Are you thinking of implementing an innovation sprint? That’s actually a good idea!

Innovation sprints are designed to deliver new features and products quickly in an easy, low-risk approach. It’s a great way to know whether or not your idea works before you get invested too much into it.

But how do you do an innovation sprint?

In this article, you will learn the basics of an innovation sprint, including the steps as well as what you need to remember when performing it.

Let’s get started.

What is an innovation sprint?

An innovation sprint is one of the best tools you can use to test whether or not an innovation idea is executable. It’s a timeboxed period of anywhere within 1-4 weeks to develop three possible solutions and test them out.

What is an innovation sprint?

It’s ideal even for large companies since you only need a small and dedicated team for a couple of days. It takes a problem or an idea to a concrete concept in a few steps — with a short lead time for maximum, concrete results.

Remember, even if your idea sounds awesome, it’s still better to put it through an innovation sprint. Within weeks, you will have a clear result and you would know whether or not your ideas will be able to deliver the business value necessary.

What are the benefits of an innovation sprint strategy?

It’s often a wonder how large companies make time and resources to conduct innovation sprints while many small ones rarely have the capacity to do more things other than improving their current products.

So why do big companies like Google conduct innovation sprints or something similar to it?

Here are the key benefits of implementing innovation sprints:

  • Enable you to test ideas on a large scale without risking the development of vital parts of your business. If you’re planning to roll out new features across platforms like iOS, Android, Windows, and others, you need only one team testing those ideas instead of multiple teams who are already working on a project.
  • Enable you to cut away from ideas you don’t think will work. Instead, you can focus on those you actually believe would be a great addition to your products. In the end, you will have only one solution you know is safe and profitable for you to implement. The testing phase helps you confirm the best idea.
  • Enable you to save time and resources by getting rid of the wasteful parts of your business. By conducting an innovation sprint, you will know exactly if the ideas work out before you invest too many resources in them.

How to Implement an Innovation Sprint

Now you know the benefits you can get from an innovation sprint, you will want to learn the steps of how to do it. The key is to be clear on what you are trying to achieve and why you are looking into doing it.

Here are all the steps of a generic innovation sprint:

1. Preparation

The first step is where the innovation core team is appointed. Together with the business owner (problem owner), the core team discuss the scope and define the innovation project.

The essential things to align are the problem to solve, the expected result, who to involve, the definition of “done”, and the team.

There are three things that should happen here:

  • Sprint briefing
  • Planning
  • Research

Sprint briefing is where you inform your team about the goals of the sprint and what you expect them to achieve. Your team will also learn how you will work together to get from idea to implementation.

In this step, you also need to ensure you have set up an environment that is free from distraction and interruptions. Then, you can focus on one particular task at a time.

Planning is where you make sure you have all the materials you need with you before starting the sprint. You need to ensure you have enough resources, tools, and space you need so you can work efficiently.

The research you conduct is important as you are learning about the problem you will be solving. With this, you must define what you want to achieve and how each idea would impact your business.

2. Problem Finding

This step is crucial for the success of your innovation. This is where you discover what the real problem is that needs to be solved — without assumptions. The result is a validated problem canvas that includes a ‘problem statement’.

That way, you can always compare the result of the next steps to the initial problem.

If you don’t have your own problem canvas, you can get one here for free.

Here are the specific things that happen in this step:

  • Kick-off
  • Problem analysis
  • Problem definition

Kick-off is where you get the team together and define what you are looking to achieve in this innovation sprint, why you are doing it, how you are going to do the sprint, the schedule, and what you are not going to do in this sprint.

Problem analysis and definition ensure you make the right assumptions on the problem you want to solve. This helps you confirm you are looking into the correct problem and that you have a shared understanding of it within your team.

3. Idea generation

This is where you generate as many ideas as possible with as diverse a group as possible (employees, customers, external parties, and other stakeholders). The result is numerous ideas that fall within the scope of the assignment.

Here are the specific things you need to do in this step:

  • Scripting
  • Creative sessions
  • Diverging

Scripting is where you define how you will conduct the creative sessions and what you expect to achieve from them. Creative sessions are where you get your team together and get into action.

Your goal is to generate as many ideas as possible while avoiding criticism. After you brainstorm, you move on diverging — this is where you start to decide which ideas you will focus on.

4. Selecting

In this step, the ideas are scaled back to the best concept, or the best three concepts, in a number of SMART selection rounds. The essence of these concepts is then described in a solution canvas.

Again, you can download a free solution canvas here you can use for innovation sprints.

Specifically, here are the things that should happen in this step:

  • Analyzing and converging
  • Grouping
  • Selection rounds

In the analyzing and converging, you analyze all the ideas you generated in the previous step. You then converge these into three concepts you want to scale back based on your knowledge of the problem to solve.

You put together a selection team for the next step — grouping — who will be responsible for coming up with a solution canvas.

Finally, you conduct selection rounds where you select the best idea for implementation based on your team’s experience and knowledge of the problem you are solving. This is when you scale back the idea to a solution canvas.

5. Concepting

During concepting, the concept/s is/are built into a concrete result. This can be a design, working app, animation, infographic, basic application, mock-up, or a sample.

The information is then packaged in such a way that the stakeholders can form a clear picture of the final result.

Here are the things included in this step:

  • Solution building
  • Copywriting
  • Designing

In this step, you work on the design you came up with in step four. Then, you focus on the functionality, usability, and visual appearance of your idea.

The result is a working prototype you can test with users and get feedback (explained in the next step) before investing time and money into building the final product.

You then add copywriting to the design you already have on the solution canvas. This means you write functional, easy-to-understand descriptions of your product or service features you want to communicate to users.

6. Presentation

In this step, the final result is presented to the stakeholders for validation, and the customers/end users give their feedback. The feedback is processed in the canvasses and in the working product.

At the end of this day, the final result is ready for the next phase — testing — whether or not the solution can go on to an extensive proof-of-concept phase or to the business case.

Here are the specific components of this step:

  • Validating
  • Rework
  • Final result

Validating happens when you test your idea with end-users and stakeholders. The feedback you get will influence the final result you will present in this step.

Rework is where you take into account what you heard from end-users and stakeholders when you validated the concept in the previous step. This means you tweak your design before presenting it to them again for validation.

The final result you present to stakeholders and end-users is a concrete prototype you can test with people.

Speed up Your Innovation Strategy With Sprints

Innovation sprints can help you bring your product or service to market faster. They are a great way to generate, evaluate, and validate ideas for new products or services with teams who may not be used to working together.

It takes a significant amount of time and effort to come up with ideas. You might need months or even years before you have something you can test with real customers/end users.

Innovation sprints help you get from idea generation to market testing in just a few weeks by using the steps outlined in this article.

If you need more information regarding innovation sprints, feel free to download the innovation ebook from here. You can also download various canvases to use in innovation sprints from our innovation toolbox.

Published On: September 13th, 2021Categories: Idea management, Innovation management

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