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SPRINT: Launch a new service in 1 week…instead of 5 months

Week 1: Ten employees gather for a kickoff meeting set out to design a new internal process with the goal of ultimately improving the customer experience. The meeting is led by the organizer who gets limited engagement and participation from the other attendees. The topic is discussed broadly and action items are assigned to owners. The group agrees to meet up again in two weeks.

Week 3: The first half of the second meeting is spent trying to remember what was decided in the first meeting. Teammate #4, silent in the kickoff meeting, decides that now he’d like to speak up and challenge something that was supposedly already decided in the kickoff meeting. Task owners present status updates on progress, but with limited time, aren’t able to go into much detail nor let other team members probe and provide feedback. New tasks are assigned to owners and the group agrees to meet up again in two weeks.

Week 4: Two critical team members get client trips scheduled for the same day of the next scheduled team meeting. The group has to reschedule but aren’t all available until a few weeks from now due to holidays and vacations.

Week 8: It’s been over a month now since the group last met. The third meeting again has to start out taking significant time to recap progress to date, the results of the last meeting and what they’ll attempt to accomplish today. Task owners present their work and it becomes clear that certain team members are on different pages. The team has to go backward in order to go forward again. Next meeting is scheduled for a week out.

Week 20: The design team has its solution! (Although because of the mostly individual-driven work that was mashed together for final output, the solution is only 60 percent as good as its true potential.)

Have you been a part of this all-too-common cycle when developing a new internal process or service offering at your company? Of course you have. It’s the typical way most companies approach innovation. Yet some people are challenging this conventional way of thinking, including Walker, and are having great success. Our talented customer Sysco introduced us to this philosophy through the book SPRINT by Jake Knapp, a former Google Ventures employee. The SPRINT model is an innovation process that takes ‘idea’ to ‘prototype’ in a few days instead of months. You’ve probably heard of this kind of approach from your techie friends, but it’s useful for CX leaders too! The SPRINT process calls for locking 5-7 people (a ‘two-pizza’ team) in a room for a couple of days and going through five stages of their design process: Map, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, Test.

Map – Map out the problem, ask the experts and pick a target to focus on.

Sketch – Competing solutions are sketched on paper.

Decide – Competing solutions are debated and the team decides on an outline of the best solution.

Build – An actual prototype is built.

Test – The prototype is tested by outsiders – real customers or other employees – and the team learns how to improve the solution.

While the SPRINT book calls for an entire week to accomplish the design with specific rules and steps, we at Walker have found success in slimming it down to 2-3 days (depending on the complexity of the problem) by focusing on the most critical disciplines to accomplishing great design. It’s really all about 5-7 smart, diverse people dedicating a significant amount of time and focus in the short term by going through a disciplined approach to sound design in order to avoid the wasted time and effort associated with tackling innovation in the traditional sense.

Want to learn more about Walker’s success in using this type of approach to innovation or the framework in general? Check out our webcast or podcast series on it for more details. Or, you can always shoot me an email – – and I’d be happy to talk through how it might work for your problem that needs to be solved next week…not five months from now.

About the Author

Jack Walker

I'm part of a team at Walker that helps companies take their next step at becoming customer-centric. Whether that be launching your first customer feedback program or taking the next step in maturing an existing voice-of-the-customer listening ecosystem. My team helps companies shorten the time-to-value of understanding their customers better, and uncovering what's needed in order to take the experience you give customers to the next level.

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