Google Ventures Design Sprint

5 day Design Process

Agile City Google Design Sprint

Image source Fast Company

Design Sprint has been developed by Google Ventures as a hardy, 5 day process that answers critical questions through design, prototyping and testing ideas.

“It’s a ‘greatest hits’ of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking and more — packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.” – Jake Knapp, Google Ventures

Google Ventures is a separate, smaller company from Google who use money from ‘big Google’ to invest and develop a range of new companies and startups. This can range from medical organisations, consumer products to apps and portfolio companies including Nest, Pocket and Uber.

To support these companies and maximise chances of success, Google has developed advanced processes to research the market and test ideas quickly. In principle, the Design Sprint process is fairly simple:

“Day 1: Understand
Dig into the design problem through research, competitive review and strategy exercises.


Day 2: Diverge
Rapidly develop as many solutions as possible.


Day 3: Decide
Choose the best ideas and hammer out a user story.


Day 4: Prototype
Build something quick and dirty that can be shown to users.


Day 5: Validate
Show the prototype to real humans (in other words, people outside the company) and learn what works and what doesn’t work” –

A key factor behind the sprint is to try and short circuit the lengthy process of building a functional minimum viable product, instead build a quick prototype and get validation from customers within a week.

Jake Knapp, design partner at Google Ventures established the process as a development from the how might we brainstorming method used by design and innovation champions IDEO. He recognised that traditional brainstorming was often flawed as lots of ideas (and post-its) were generated but these often didn’t go anywhere.

“In my experience, the most successful ideas tended to come from individuals, not groups. The ideas took some individual heads-down work time to develop too. I ran a lot of workshops before I realized this, so if it seemed obvious to you from the beginning, I hope you’ll cut me some slack.” – Jake Knapp

He also recognised the importance of a definitive deadline to produce and test something with real people outside the company. To create this deadline they invite people to use the product on the last day which forces the team to have produced something that is good enough to ’suspend disbelief’ of the prototype – i.e. users can test functionality but don’t require a fully operational product or service

Jake Knapp has written a series of in-depth posts on Fast Co Exist the first; how to conduct your own google design sprint is well worth a read.

In relationship to Agile City we are considering if a similar process could be used for developing and testing ideas within a urban context. There are already some exciting hack event formats, for example Cycle Hack, which aims to generate solutions to barriers that inhibit people from cycling in a short space of time. Over the last couple of years we have attended many charrette planning sessions which brain storm ideas for urban development. These generate a lot of ideas but often little tangible outcomes, so we feel some of the principles and learning from a Design Sprint could be interesting to consider.

If you have applied a similar process to urban development projects we would be interested to hear from you.Please leave a comment below or get in touch via [email protected] with details

Agile City Google Design Sprint

Image source Google Ventures



– How to doncuct your own design sprint

– Research makes great design possible

– 6 ingredients you’ll need to run a design sprint