Most everyone knows about Agile sprints for software development, but they can also be applied to developing physical products. One of the most powerful approaches is an Innovation Sprint. Innovation Sprints are short (1-2 week) spurts of product ideation activity that combine the best practices of Design Thinking (customer centered innovation and prototyping) and Agile (iteration and high-performance teaming). When applied early in development, they provide a more reliable way for teams to validate that product designs will indeed delight customers. Innovation Sprints also provide clarity and space to make sure teams are working on the most creative designs. Both Design Thinking and Agile methods share the common values of customer empathy, team collaboration and rapid prototyping, though one emphasizes innovation, the other speed. Both together provide market-leading competitive advantage.

PLAN – 6 STEPS OF MISSION (SPRINT) PLANNING

  • Determine the Sprint objective: (A) clear, measurable, achievable. (B) aligned to High Definition Destination (HDD), (C) drives action.
  • Identify the threats: (A) obstacles to success.(B) mitigate or eliminate threats. (C) controllable and uncontrollable.
  • Identify your available and required resources: (A) resources to achieve the Sprint success. (B) mitigate or eliminate threats. (C) consider resources in the following categories: training, leadership, people, clients, customers, physical resources, systems, and technologies.
  • Evaluate lessons learned: (A) consider experiences of the team. (B) Experts available for consult. (C) documented lessons learned. (D) go/no go.
  • Develop a course of action: (A) brainstorm and separate planning teams / TeamStorming. (B) create final course of action “who, does what, when”. (C) corporate executive team comments into final plan.
  • Plan for contingencies: (A) what can go wrong, what if? (B) uncontrollable threats. (C) trigger, action steps.

B.R.I.E.F – 5 ALIGNMENT CHECKS BEFORE EXECUTION

  • Big picture-brief the scenario.
  • Review the mission objective.
  • Identify the threats and resources.
  • Execution-course of action/action steps. (A) roles and responsibilities, (B) risks and mitigation, (C) identify leaders.
  • Flexibility-contingencies, stop work scenarios.

EXECUTE  – 4 AREAS TO CHECK WHILE SPRINTING

  • Task saturation.
  • Standards, checklists, crosschecks.
  • Mutual support, task shedding.
  • Execution rhythm and cross-gap Meetings

DEBRIEF – S.T.E.A.L.T.H.

  • Set the time: location, duration, prepare.
  • Tone: nameless and rankles -events not people, not who is right, but what is right! Truth over harmony. Brutal honesty.
  • Execution versus objectives: what was the Sprint objective? Was it clear, measurable, achievable and aligned with your HDD.
  • Analyze execution: focus on key events: what happened? How did it happen; why did it happen?
  • Lessons learned: action steps for future planning.
  • Transfer lessons learned: transfer lessons learned to your team/organization. Accelerates experience. Improves future execution.
  • High Note: positive summation! Celebrate road to success.

Capturing the discipline of this process into the Sprint methodology allows teams to perform at higher levels. The goal of the process is to accelerate performance through flawless execution.  It doesn’t mean that the Sprint reaches its goal every time but it does mean that the processes and people involved most effectively utilized.