Design Sprint for Innovate new products with PoC

In this post I share the process and experience of using the Design Sprint methodology to conduct a proof of concept between a startup and a corporation.

When you work with open innovation programs, one of the big challenges is how to get two organizations to collaborate to get the goals of the program (and even start to an M&A operation). In this post, I tell you my experience using Design Sprint to achieve it and how we have done it.

Let’s be honest. Many cases of open innovation projects must deal with processes and cultures that do not allow the relationship between the 2 organizations to bear fruit. For this case, Design Sprint must be your secret weapon.

I have been part of the Google Sprint Master for more than 3 years and have had the opportunity to work with magnificent projects. In this post I want to share my experience in the last design sprint in which I participated.

Methodological context:

Open innovation programs are innovation strategies of companies that try to create cooperation with other organizations or professionals. In opposition to the traditional and closed model where innovation occurred within the company.

When we want to connect 2 organizations that are also at different levels of development, culture, and context, the process design to get the integration is very important.

In our case, We will work with a startup and a big corporate. We had identified a startup with which we wanted to do a Proof of Concept (PoC) to evaluate the viability of integration with an existing product of a corporation.

Why use Design Sprint?

The first question in the face of this challenge is how we can do this, in an economical and fast way that allows us to accept or reject the viability of the PoC. For what we found reasonable to use Design Sprint (DS) since it allows us to approach the project and measure the results unifying the full process of PoC.

One of the main features of Design Sprint is that it allows us to save costs. We estimate that the PoC has meant a saving of about 100,000 euros versus a more traditional project management approach for a 6-months of project.

With Design Sprint you save about 100.000 euros and 6 months of work in the project.

Estimated project costs in a traditional approach

Pre Design Sprint Work.

As you know, a design sprint is made up of 3 parts. And although many articles only focus on the Design Sprint as such, the previous and subsequent activities are very important and it is necessary to have a Design Sprint Master.

Design Sprint Master dedication in a DS project.

We run this DS in June 2019. The initial work in a DS highlights the roles that take part in the project. In our case, there were 2 teams that we had to align to carry out the PoC.

The CORPORATE team that owns the product in which the proof of concept will be carried out. They have the relationship with the Corporation (ie. LEGAL + BUSINESS + MARKETING)

The STARTUP team that owns the solution to be evaluated in the PoC and possess the EXPERTISE + TALENT + MARKET KNOWLEDGE

The integration team of the PoC, will be created with members of both teams, with technical and management profiles on both sides, to be able to assemble a single project team to work during the Design Sprint week and achieve the PoC.

We must transform two teams into only one team.

In total in this DS have participated 12 people + 1 Sprint Master.

By Roles the project consists of:

  • 2 Interaction Designers
  • 3 UI Developers
  • 2 Back Developers
  • 1 PR
  • 1 Branding Manager
  • 1 Product Designer
  • 2 Product Managers

Such a large number of participants implies special attention to the agendas and times of all those involved in the Design Sprint. On this point, it is advisable to prepare the communication documents and to be sent by the head of the department or C-Level to the members of the designated teams in order to meet the deadlines defined for the project. To get prepared a project folder structure we permitted centralizer and share all information and documents generated with the team.

Folder structure used in the project

Setting up a 5-day part-time workshop for 15 people implies an average logistics management.

It is important that all team members have access to the information so that they feel involved in the project and trust in the process.

We have taken into account the agendas of the participants. Occupying timetable team from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Also, We ask attendees to complete a series of tasks 2 weeks before the DS. as prework.

Surely this point is the most popular due to the increasing attention that the Design Sprint methodology has awakened in recent times within the design and innovation consulting industry.

Design Sprint.

Is possible you already know the process of DS is a hybridization of different techniques and methodological approaches, which uses techniques of Design Thinking, Strategic Design, HCD, Agile, User Research, Lean Startup among other methodologies. In our case, the entire project sought to evaluate a PoC, as the first step for possible integration into an existing product (APP). Which implies that we must take into account the end to end of the project, as we face a possible joint venture collaboration.

Therefore, we select the techniques that we were going to use in each of the 6 steps of which a Design Sprint is composed. That should fit with the Poc validation process.

In our DS. We use a classic scheme of:

  1. Understand
  2. Define
  3. Diverge
  4. Decide
  5. Prototype
  6. Validate


We designed the “Understand” session in two parts. An initial prior to the DS. We call “PreWork” which was communicated to attendees 2 weeks before the date of the DS. So they could do a personal job. For this, we use the SWOT technique, User Journey Diagram and List of Competitors. This allowed us to better understand in which ecosystem of products we competed. In this way we can design the integration solution that best suits and absorbs the new synergies.

Design Sprint documentation detail


During the definition phase, we worked to define and develop a new User Journey that would allow us to integrate the two products into one. This PoC implies a review of the design principles, and not only at the product level, but also of the communication tone and our market positioning. Which meant we redefined our initial Design Challenge.

First formulation of the Design Challenge


In this phase we work on the possible solution approaches taking into account the shared knowledge of the team to define a flow of screens, an interaction model and a catalog of interface components. To align team decisions we employ a persona technique.

Design archetype for Persona


In this phase, We established the product integration process at the technical level and at the user level and defined the communication policies for users and the market. As well as the variables of the indicators with which you wanted to evaluate the PoC.

Detail decision process


In this phase, we build all the necessary artifacts. We use this phase in 1’5 day to carry out a Sprint Zero in the Scrum approach. Defining a roadmap and technical integration requirements and building the PoC. A sample of selected users was made that same day at the end of the session.

Detail decision process


We worked with a series of objectives that allowed us to define an integration dashboard and generated a plan of objectives. Also during this week, we have managed to create a Data-Drive culture in the team that allows us to measure and say the next steps in the PoC.

The validation plan has consisted in the decision of a series of indicators (KPIs) and in the definition of a series of goal in the time that allows us to accept or refuse to advance the integration to the entire user base and to deploy the plan of attracting new users with the business units involved.


Finally, the integration process was successfully completed and the startup was acquired by the corporation in an acquihire process.

Design Sprint has been shown as a powerful tool for this type of innovation process for saving time (75% less time and 100,000 euros cheaper) It allows to identify human aspects that would otherwise have been very difficult to detect and align all those involved in the objectives of the project. It is currently one of the best tools we have to work on this type of projects.

Due to the strategic nature of the project, there are aspects of our work that we cannot make public, but I hope this text helps to illustrate the process behind a Design Sprint.


Do you need to know more about

Sprint Supplies you need in a DS? Check my shopping list at Amazon

What to include in your Energy Box? Check our post in Hackity about it

Little experience with workshops? Here you have many quality resources

Are you interested in running your own design sprint? Write to me and we’ll be happy to help you .   

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