Design Sprint Kit
Sprint Planning Step by Step
Everything you need to get started
Preparing for your Sprint is one of the most critical steps in the process. You will be taking up 3-5 days of people’s time and good prep helps make the best use of it.

Step 1: Write a Sprint Brief

The first step in planning a sprint is to get everyone on the same page. A great tool for doing that is a Sprint Brief. This is a document that outlines the Sprint Challenge, Key Goals, and the Deliverable that the team plans to create during the Sprint. Here is a template that you can use to get you started.

The Sprint Challenge: Crafting a Sprint Challenge is important in order to give the team focus during the sprint. Be sure to validate the challenge and your goals with your team’s leadership (CEO, VP or other stakeholder) during the planning phase to ensure you have support and don’t waste anyone's time. Some examples of good challenges for a sprint are:

  • Redesign the onboarding process for your app
  • Explore new models for discovering products in your e-commerce app
  • Improve the process for approving new projects
  • Define the vision for a new product offering

Step 2: Collect or Conduct User Research

If you are working on a completely new idea or project, it can be really helpful to do exploratory research in advance of holding your Sprint. Ideally, you would have a full time User Researcher on your team but if you are a small team you might have to be scrappy and leverage the UX folks you have to fill in. Begin by collecting all the research that you have into one place and review the gaps in what you know about your users. This will help you assess if you need to spend some time conducting research before the sprint.

You will also find some research methods in the Understand phase. Keep in mind research takes time and if you are only allocating 3 days you should do as much research as possible in advance.

Types of Research:

  • Participant Observation
  • User Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Diary Study

Step 3: Assemble your Sprint team

The value of a Sprint comes from bringing together a cross-functional team to collaborate together physically in person. The ideal working size is 5-7 people per team. If you have a larger team you can break up into smaller groups. In fact, having more people can be great as you’ll have more resources for building out multiple versions of a prototype.

A sprint team should be made up of those people who will be owners of and working on the product moving forward. This is important because the work that happens in a sprint is setting the strategic direction for your project. You want everyone who needs to have input involved, people who can reject ideas as impractical, and who would benefit from a sense of ownership in order to drive project forward beyond the confines of the Sprint.

These people usually include a UX designer, a User Researcher, a Product Manager, an Engineer and even a UX writer. Ideally you would also have any key leadership who have the ability to reject the outcomes of the sprint.

Step 4: Plan the Lightning Talks

Invite team members and external knowledge experts to be speakers. Having key team members hold lightning talks gives people a voice and a chance to share their expertise. It also gives the team a sense of ownership over the sprint’s outcome. And the external experts can introduce fresh perspectives. And remember, lightning talks don’t need to be done in person; they can be presented remotely. If someone can’t join the sprint, but has important insights or information to share, schedule them to present in the lightning round. The more information your sprint team has about the problem at hand, the more likely they are to craft viable solutions.

Lightning talks are also a good opportunity to bring your Engineering Lead in to share technical opportunities or discuss previous efforts, or your Stakeholder to help set context and vision for the team. And remember, it’s always a good idea to include the user perspective as part of your lightning talks whether through actual interviews or through collected research, case studies, or video clips from user interviews. Afterall improving the user’s experience is the end goal.

Step 5: Create a Deck

We recommend you create a deck to help as your guide going through the sprint. It is a great place to collect the Lightning talks and help people the learn the methods. We have created some deck templates as a resource to get you started if you'd like. They are located in the Resources section of the site.

Step 6: Find the Right Space

Creativity happens best in spaces that are open, full of light, and have room for documenting and working. You will need lots of whiteboards or available walls for putting up the generated content. Conference rooms are not great for this type of work. If you will be prototyping anything physical, access to needed tools or equipment to is essential. Also, Sprints are active so you don’t want a lounge type space either. We highly recommend tall tables and with stools, moveable tables to allow you to re-configure for different activities and lots and lots of whiteboards. Not everyone has access to the ideal Sprint Space - so do the best you can. Wall space, quiet and enough room to move about are really the only must-haves.

Step 7: Get the Supplies

Here is a list of the supplies you will need:

  • 1 Sharpie per person (get extra they disappear)
  • 1 pad of sticky post its per person
  • 1 drawing pen per person
  • 10 sheets of paper per person
  • 1 roll of tape
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 2 whiteboards per team or Large Post it pads
  • 1 set of colored white board markers.

Step 8: Choose a Good Ice Breaker

Whether you’re bringing together a group of people who have never met before, or a team of coworkers who are familiar with one another, an Ice Breaker serves a couple of purposes. First, it helps everyone prepare for the work ahead by bringing their focus to the space and the moment. These also help to jumpstart creative thinking. Studies have shown that people are more present and engaged when they are given the chance to say their name and share something about themselves. We included a few Ice Breakers we like in the Resources section.

Step 9: Set the Stage at the beginning of the Sprint

Setting the stage means laying out the ground rules for Sprinting, confirming people will be present for the entire sprint and letting them know the schedule so they can prepare accordingly if they need to jump out to take care of other responsibilities.

Checklist of ground rules:

  • Ask for people’s full attention and time, we understand if you need to take a call, please be considerate of people’s time and step out if it is critical
  • Laptops closed until they are needed
  • Mobile phones put away
  • Ask for permission to move people fast and cut them off, this is a sprint for a reason.