Being properly prepared for a sprint isn’t hard, but it’s important to get it right.

We’ve put together a spreadsheet to keep track of your ideas. Make a copy and fill it out. If you want help with it, just let us know.

Here are the five things you need to consider:

  1. Decide on the problem you’re trying to solve
  2. Pick your sprint team
  3. Schedule the sprint
  4. Choose a location
  5. Set homework

1. Decide on the problem you’re trying to solve

This will be the area in which you’re going to make progress during the sprint week. The problem should be:

  • One thing. This isn’t an opportunity to squash loads of bugs.
  • Big and difficult. Something with an obvious solution isn’t a good candidate.
  • Customer-facing. Yes, a big problem has lots of operational detail, but a sprint should begin and end with solving the customer’s problems.

If you want help deciding what to work on, get in touch and we’ll help write your sprint challenge for free.

2. Pick your team

You’re trying to schedule a week long meeting with a group of busy people.

First, you need to pick the team. Pick people with experience of how the problem area affects the organisation. Pick from a range of backgrounds representing different areas of the organisation and bringing different skills.

A team of 5-8 people might look like this:

For a strategy sprint:

  • You (the person responsible for setting direction in your organisation).
  • A representative from each of the major functions of your organisation or department.

For a product/service sprint:

  • You (the person responsible ensuring your products/services truly serve your customers).
  • At least one of each of: a designer, a developer, someone who really understands your customers, someone who really understands how you serve them, someone who really understands where the money comes from.

For a campaign/marketing sprint:

  • You (the person responsible for creating great campaigns).
  • A designer, a writer, the individuals responsible for your communications channels (paid/earned/owned), someone who knows how to get your customer data.

3. Schedule the sprint

It’s not easy to get a group of busy and smart people together. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Remind them this is a really important problem. The success of your organisation depends on getting it right. (Don’t cry wolf – it really does need to be a meaty problem to deserve the love and attention you’re going to give it.).
  • Offer a selection of weeks. Pick three different weeks about 4-8 weeks from today (most people’s calendars have nothing but cancellable/skippable standing meetings this far out…).

4. Choose a location

You have three options:

  • A nice big, natural light filled meeting room at your office.
  • Offsite. A nice, big natural light-filled meeting room somewhere else.
  • At The Shop. A nice, natural light-filled studio in South London (coming later this year).

You really want some whiteboard space and somewhere you can stick up sketches and notes. A screen is useful.

5. Set some homework

To successfully meet customer needs, you need to know what they are.

At The Shop, we ask participants in our sprints to do some research into their customers by doing a very simple thing – talking to them about the problems they’re trying to solve when they interact with your organisation. 5-8┬ápeople, each having a structured conversation for 30-60 minutes with a real customer, throws a lot of light into dark corners.

Alongside this, we look at how others meet your customers needs. Each sprint participant should research a couple of examples of how others have solved a similar problem and be prepared to discuss how they think it helped the customer achieve what they set out to do.

In sum:

Sprints work because they have the right people in the right place with the right preparation for the right problem at the right time.

If you’re ready for a sprint:

Get in touch