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September 15, 2021

What is a Design Sprint? | Day 2: Define

Day 2: Define

In this article, we will take a deeper dive into the second stage of a design sprint. You will learn how to identify your long term goal for your service or product. This is part 3 of 6 of the “What is a Design Sprint?” series. 

Not in the right section? Use our directory to get to the right spot:

  1. Summary of a design sprint.
  2. Empathize with users.
  3. Ideate on the best solution.
  4. Prototype the solution.
  5. Test the prototype with users. 


Identify the Long Term Goal

On the second day of the sprint, it is important to identify the long term goal of the project. This unifies the team, allowing for any proposed ideas, sketches, prototypes, and other steps of this process to be done efficiently. One method to determine the long term goal is by using a Problem Statement

Icon of two people solving a problem together

A problem statement identifies the gap between the problem and the solution. It frames the problem in a way that invites solutions. It provides a clear description of the issue to tackle, while keeping the focus on the user. One method of creating a problem statement is the “Four Ws.” This requires the team to ask themselves: “What is the problem?”, “Who is experiencing the problem?”, “Where does the problem occur?”, and “Why does it matter that the problem is solved?”.

Another method is the Five Whys. You simply ask five questions starting with “why” and answer them. Seeing the answers will help you to identify the root cause of the problem. For example, if a lawyer is struggling with the business side of managing a firm we can ask: 

  1. Why is the lawyer struggling? → she does not have time to manage business operations.
  2. Why does she not have time to manage business operations? → she does not have enough time to do the legal work while managing the business side of a firm.
  3. Why does she not have the time to manage both legal and business work? → All day she is talking to clients, writing petitions and other legal documents for clients, and preparing for trial. By the time she reaches operational tasks, like keeping track of time, sending out an invoice, performing client intake, etc. she finds the process monotonous and time consuming.
  4. Why are operational matters monotonous and time consuming? → she uses different tools to bill clients, keep track of time spent on matters, performing client intake, etc.
  5. Why does she use different tools to manage operations? → she does not use a practice management software that has all these features or integrations in one place.

From the above example, a root cause is a lack of integration in the tools used by the lawyer. The final problem statement could look like: “Lawyers need a practice management software that keeps all their operational tools in one place, allowing for an efficient automated business operations partner.”

Icon of three people coming up with ideas together

It is important to explore topics that are relevant to the long term goal. This is usually done with Lightning Talks. The topics discussed may include the project’s long term goal or business goals, how to identify the user and what the user’s experience should look like with the service or product (discussed in more detail in the previous blog post), any competitors in the market, technical considerations, and if starting with an existing product, what changes were made and what has worked and what has not. The Design Sprint Kit, provided by Google, has a pdf and a powerpoint slide to help you guide your team through this process. If possible, consult with experts in the company or firm to share what they know about these topics. 


Scope Out the Competition

Now is the time to take a deeper dive into your competitors. Finding how other people have solved the problem can inspire your solution. A great warm up during this part of the process is to have each team member present their findings on what existing solutions offer and what they lack. 

Once you have looked into who offers a similar solution and what issues may exist with the current products or services, it is time to brainstorm possible solutions that bridge the gaps. For instance, if you are trying to create an all-in-one practice management software for attorneys, you already know some features to include based off of the problem statement. Some features discussed in the problem statement were client billing, time keeping, and performing client intake. However, by checking out other products, you learned about what kind of standard features to include, such as task management, calendar integration, conflict checking, email, text messaging, document management, document assembly, trust accounting, basic bookkeeping, and online payments. 

Icon of someone studying charts

The goal now is to figure out what features to do better than your competitors or new features to incorporate in the product. If many products in the market have an integration with a Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar that is cumbersome and provides poor user experience, consider making a feature that is a separate calendar client instead. This would make it less clunky and easier to use. A different feature that could be improved is providing full accounting instead of a basic bookkeeping feature to prevent attorneys from having to purchase additional accounting software. Another feature that could make your practice management software stand out is by advancing the document assembly feature to be a full fledged document automation tool. New features to include may come from previous user research, such as surveys from attorneys, or from future user research, like testing the prototype at the later stages of the design sprint.


In Summary…

Having a long term goal for the project will keep the team on track and bring your team’s perspective into the solution. You can identify and expand long term goals with different methods: Problem Statement, Four W’s, Five Whys, and Lightning Talks. Additionally, by taking into account competitors, you are setting up your project for success by not replicating what is already present in the market.


Next Steps

If you are interested in the details of the next stage, continue reading with the next blog post in our series, the second stage of the design sprint: ideate on the best solution.

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