How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

When someone joins the Go Nimbly team, our first homework assignment is to read Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz.

I’m always excited to find that a company has prerequisite reading… Actually, to be quite honest, I was slightly perplexed when I received this book. It didn’t seem particularly related to my job. I figured it was a way to spark a community and bonding experience — sort of like a book club.

With apprehension and curiosity, I approached this book. Looking at the cover, my first reservation was, “how could a team possibly solve large problems in just five days?” That seemed unmanageable. But within the first few pages, the authors quickly convince me that it is possible to solve any kind of problem with the right people and processes in place.

I think we have all been there in our personal or professional lives…where we are presented with some sort of problem that needs solving. I can’t assume how all of you are wired, but the more time I have to figure out a problem, the less likely I am to think of a thoughtful solution. Whether it is due to the complexity of the problem, procrastination, or indecision.

So, what is the sprint?

In this book, we learn that “the sprint is Google Venture’s unique five-day process for answering crucial questions through prototyping and testing ideas with customers. It’s a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavioral science, design, and more — packaged into a step-by-step process that any team can use.”

How does the sprint work?

You will need five days. Each day is divided into a task:

Monday: make a map and choose a target

Tuesday: sketch competing solutions

Wednesday: decide on the best sketch

Thursday: build a prototype

Friday: test with target customers

Your ideal team will include 7 people: a decider who has the authority to make big decisions, a few department experts like someone from marketing or sales and the troublemaker, someone who is a great devil’s advocate.

The authors illustrate what happens when right “process people” use design-thinking to shrink elongated and elaborate solutions into short and clear-cut solutions that tackle the problem head-on. Jake Knapp, the principle author, created and led these types of design sprints for Google Products and now uses this model for Google Ventures.

The use-cases found in this book are not all tech-centric. They range from various industries such as hospitality, all the way to healthcare start-ups. My favorite “sprint-story” is one on how Blue Bottle Coffee effectively personalized an online coffee purchasing experience.

It’s safe to say that although I was apprehensive at first, I can confidently say that anyone would find an abundance of value from this book. It really is the ultimate DIY guide to solving any problem in five days.

Go Nimbly is the premier marketing and sales consultancy for SaaS companies. Founded and headquartered in San Francisco, Go Nimbly provides customers with a customized team to manage everything from strategy to execution for their marketing and sales systems. To learn more, visit gonimbly.com.