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How to run Product sprints ?

You all have heard of the design sprint if you have not, read more here. It was introduced inside Google & has been widely adapted, however working with this book has enabled me to think of a product sprint inspired by this, let me explain how it would work.

The people:

Representation from each department will be great + 2 from Customer Success. The teams can either be Design, Frontend, Backend, Strategy, Product(ofcourse!) or follow the squad way (if that is what your company follows) and have all the team leads in there. I don’t suggest the latter if you have too many teams in your organization, since more people means more time & more confusion. However you know what works best for your team.

The process:

Ideally the design sprint is a 5 day process with 5 stages, Concentrating on various things everyday.

However, product sprint will only have 3 steps & can be done within 1 day/8 hours.

Here is what happens in it -

a. Understand/Map: We will ask the strategists (usually the founders/ CPO/ PO) what their immediate one year vision is (they will talk about what they would like to achieve & the challenges these goals face for 5 minutes). While they discuss all other members can interview them further. For example - If the founder says - We should grow our sales by 40% this quarter. He/She might get asked - HOW MIGHT WE scale our resources to do this? HOW MIGHT WE(HMW) support the sales team feature wise to achieve this? These questions shall also be written down. Once done, we will begin putting up all these questions on a wall, you will begin to see that most HMWs follow some pattern & all the varied questions are actually leading to a bigger question, that will now form the theme of the following discussion. We will now map out an ideal solution that will help achieve this common goal.

b. Microscopic target: Now that we have a target, we will go around the room (this time strategists dont participate) as to how we can achieve this target with their function’s help or why haven’t we achieved it yet. We do one more round of this where they tell us how we can achieve this target with the help of some other function.

Example: Eng lead says we can achieve this by reducing our latency and in the second round he says we can achieve this if product team build better product analytics that help understand what customer needs. You will hopefully see a common enough pattern to what needs our attention right away. Clarity should be achieved at this stage.

c. Clarity extended: We will now go back with these insights, look at data + customer insights and derive some patterns around this. We can now decide what needs to be built and how/ what timelines etc. This step involves not everyone but product team alone to figure out the future roadmaps and such.

When should you do this?

Priorities for each team are different & everyone’s thinking might need some alignment. Especially in what you should focus as a company. Even if both of you have a clear understanding, it will help conveying to the team & getting them onboard easily. This will also help in teams being able to converge & understand why something needs to be worked on.

Let me know how you strategize product when you are early in the product cycle & how you navigate through uncertainty. If you do use this method then & adapt to your own way, tell me what changes worked for you!

Published 4 Apr 2020

Always looking for learning opportunities in product and life.
Vindhya C on Twitter