Sprint to a rapid prototype

Build fast. Learn fast. Hack a shortcut to your solution.

Google Ventures piloted a popular rapid prototyping method for digital hackathons described as a “Sprint“. Ampersand has adapted this method, adding user research as a vital input. Apply this shortcut method to quickly iterate an innovation prototype, moving beyond just digital, to the physical and conceptual (e.g. new business models).

Pre-Game: Research & Setup


Set the stage

  1. Define the challenge.
  2. Field the right team.
  3. Reserve and setup space.
  4. Conduct primary user research and secondary assessment of competition and alternatives. (Recommended supplemental activity)

Module 1: Target


Don’t jump until you know where you want to land

  1. Run structured discussions; create a path for the sprint.
  2. Set a long-term goal.
  3. Map the challenge.
  4. Experts share insights.
  5. Present summary of user findings, competitive analysis and market scans. (Recommended supplemental activity)
  6. Pick a target: an ambitious but manageable piece of the problem that you can solve in one week.

Module 2: Sketch


Scribble your ideas—many and fast

  1. Discover user needs, frustrations with current state and alternatives.(Recommended supplemental activity)
  2. Inspire with a review of existing ideas to remix and improve.
  3. Each person sketch, following a 4-step process that emphasizes critical thinking over artistry.
  4. Recruit customers that fit target profile (for feedback in Module 5.

Module 3: Storyboard


Tell your story

  1. Review your stack of solutions. Critique each solution, ranking the best chance for achieving your long-term goal.
  2. Storyboard scenes from your sketches. Weave them into a step-by-step plan for your prototype.

Module 4: Prototype


Skin that cat

  1. Design the customer-facing surface of your product or service as a low resolution prototype just sufficient for customer test and feedback.
  2. Confirm Day 5 schedule.
  3. Review the prototype.
  4. Design research protocol – setting, observation, recording, interview script.

Module 5: Test


Watch, listen and learn

  1. Observe customer reactions to prototype.
  2. Interview customers.
  3. Document pain points and design changes.
  4. Chart your development schedule.

Know if you’re a “Go”.

Learn faster. Save time and money. Give decision makers a tangible concept for a more concrete commitment. Know if you’re a go.

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