To Sprint or Not to Sprint?


If your goal is to develop a new service offering, a breakthrough customer experience, or an innovative business model – and if you work in a large enterprise – is a sprint realistic? You bet it is!

Sprints work, because resources are finite and success is not about the quality of ideas. Any half-decent idea will improve quickly if you iterate effectively.

But before you step in the blocks and anticipate the starter’s gun, keep reading to make sure you and your team are set up for success for your next innovation sprint.

Is my problem fit for a sprint?

Innovation sprints can be very effective in the right conditions. 

  • High-priority customer problem is identified
    “This opportunity really matters. But our traditional project management approaches haven’t worked to get this problem solved.”
  • High uncertainty  
    “We have a lot more questions than answers; it’s pretty likely we’ll need to pivot as we get feedback from the market.”
  • Small, capable teams can be assigned for a short period of time 
    “We’ve got a switched-on team leader that is excited by the sprint format.
  • Limited resource appetite 
    “We’ll need to learn quickly before we commit significant funding.
  • No longitudinal data required 
    “If we learn what I hope we will, then this opportunity will definitely attract additional funding.”

Step 1: Train and Prepare

The most visible aspect of a sprint is the pace. But in order to go fast during the sprint, you need to go slowly before the sprint and put the right pieces in place. Peer Insight recommends using a formal sprint compact between the venture team and the sponsors.

Step 2: Simple Race Strategy

Innovation sprint teams draw their methods from the tool kits of design thinking and lean startup. However, these tools need to be tailored to the compressed pace of the sprint.

Step 3: Sprint Thru The Tape

Successful sprinters don’t run to the tape, they run through it. Avoid anything that threatens to slow you down. Here are some common obstacles that represent sprint kryptonite, and must be avoided at all costs: status reports to executives, mid-point reviews with executives, fussed-over PowerPoint decks, formal presentations to … anyone, Briefings to the ________ committee, internal socialization requirement

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