That’s way less time together than the in-person Design Sprint, but then there’s the potential to use the other time available for asynchronous activities.
Hang on, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s just define what that means:
- asynchronous = time apart
- synchronous = time together
So now we understand our times, let’s take a closer look at the activities we need to complete.
2. Adjust the Design Sprint
Before we jump into the specific activities, you can get more familiar with the four-day Design Sprint (our preferred arrangement) over here.
You could spread the sprint out over a couple of weeks, but I really think you start losing the momentum of using the team’s short-term memory and the magic of giving yourself a time-boxed period to make decisions.
Instead, start by splitting the activities in what has to be done together (or synchronously) and what can be done apart (or asynchronously). We’ve found the following works right now, but with more repetitions, we may find a better version:
- Ask the Experts and How Might Wes (30 mins)
- Long-Term Goal and Sprint Questions (30 mins)
- Map(45 mins)
- Lightning Demos (30 mins)
- Four Part Sketch (60 mins)
That’s 3.25 hours of pure activity time. Add in a few breaks and you’ve got just over 4 hours.
- Heat Map Vote (20 mins)
- Speed Critique (30 mins)
- Straw Poll Vote (5 mins)
- Decider vote (5 mins)
- User test flow (30 mins)
- Storyboarding (1:30 mins)
Again, add in a few breaks to the 3 hours of pure activity time and you’re looking at around 4 hours work.
We do Day 3 and 4 as usual at Etch Sprints, having the facilitator and designer create the prototype and then joined by the decider and the rest of the team in observing in user testing. You could tag-team design and user testing if constrained by synchronous time. User testing remotely is actually how we do the far majority of our in-person Design Sprints.
Try not to just lift and shift
Ok, so we can fit the workshops in the synchronous time together — great! But there are some problems here. Remote will fail if you just try and replicate what you do in-person. So consider these points:
- in this example, the US team are have the advantage of creating in the morning, but the UK team have the afternoon slot, which could be harder to concentrate in
- we have also not considered breaks — called “pressure-release valves” in Sprint
- lunch too is omitted, but the could be done either before or after the days activities
- we also need to communicate more when not in the same physical space
There are also signs of opportunity. In this setup, the London team could do the four part sketch on the morning of Day 2.
There are other ways of adjusting the Sprint for remote, but this should offer some ideas to get started.
3. Choose tools to help
It’s 2019 and technology has caught up with ambition. Modern tools are helping teams all over the world get their work done, and they really come into their own when you’re not sitting next to your teammates. You can pick and drop any that you find useful, but here’s our current selection:
- Mural — for ideas, deciding and voting
- Figma — for prototyping in the cloud
- PingPong — for recruitment and user testing
- Zoom — to video conference
You can use others tools to help sure, but be aware that adding more tools to your toolbox can often make things more complicated and take longer, as people try to find for artefacts or where the decisions were documented.
This is just a start
I have found that it is often better to run before you can walk. This is just a first step, but I’m excited at the potential to bring the Design Sprint to distributed teams and fulfil the original mission of the Design Sprint of being a way of working that any team can use.
There are many more improvements to make, and over the coming weeks I would like to understand:
- do we need to alter the activities?
- is there a minimum and maximum of together time?
- is there a case where it’s impossible to run a remote Design Sprint?
- what could be special about the remote Design Sprint?
- how can new teammates on-board
- what health and wellness considerations need to be taken into account?
Doing reps (repetitions) of the remote Design Sprint will tell us more.