How to Sprint after the Olympics (Growth Hacking Edition)

6th September 2016

Growth Hacking Strategy and Design Sprints

Daniel Ludwig

Social and Digital Entrepreneur | TEDxEastEnd Core Member | Marathon Runner

How often have you crossed fingers for our athletes in the last weeks? Every day? Multiple times a day? For couch potatoes or amateur athletes what it all unites us is that we are all focused on one event comprising over 207 nationalities. At work, the most remarkable moments come from working with a diverse set of professionals – which lead me to working with different teams across different countries and nationalities. When we turn an idea into a Minimum Viable Product – MVP,  we usually work with different teams, groups of different backgrounds, professionals like designers, Product Owners, marketers. Not having forgotten to mention technical writers, UX/UI experts or entrepreneurs.

Why care?

Today I want to focus on a relatively new topic in the digital transformation space: Design Sprints in connection with Growth hacking (definition below). Let`s start with defining these concepts. Design Sprint  is an approach to emphasize end user needs and to create a systematic idea validation process at a low cost and at high speed. These Design Sprints are usually held with entire teams over the period of 5 or less days (depends of the scope and time availability of the teams). The team’s main target during a Design Sprint is to develop products engaging everyone to brainstorm from the user’s perspective. The end results are experiments to test different assumptions, receiving invaluable feedback from customers and adjusting the MVP rapidly and cost efficiently within few days. The benefits are clear: low cost experiments executed fast, seeking out feedback from customers!

What’s the problem?

Too often, many companies fail to speak directly with their target customers and build products and businesses mainly based on assumptions. At best case, they develop prototypes in order to test with the customers, till they find out that the target audience doesn’t like it at all. It`s important to save time to market, save costs and most importantly to give the opportunity to all employees to speak with the customer – which too many times is forgotten in many businesses.

Design Sprints can be seen as a short term kick-off phase to execute a long term growth hacking strategy. Wait, one second. What is Growth hacking again? Growth hacking is a relatively new term also in the digital transformation world. It consists of processes that have been designed to acquire, engage and retain users at relatively lower costs than traditional marketing techniques. It combines several elements such as the design of an engaging prototype, search engine optimization, inbound marketing ect. This is vital for Product Line Managers, Product Owners, Business Owners, Business Analysts
, Solution Managers, Portfolio Managers, Program Managers, PMO personnel to improve their utilisation of limited marketing and product development budgets and to increase the product’s success rate. MVE (Minimum Viable Experiments) and Design Sprints – they are nothing else than time focused, experimental learning processes with the customer in mind and a fast turn around within few days timeframe.

How is it solved today

As a passionate marathon runner I’m in love with sprints. For everyone who never heard about a Design Sprint, I can warmly recommend Jake Knapp’s Book “Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days”

A 5 days Design Sprint is an easy bulletproofed methodology to turn ideas into an early stage prototype without wasting many hours of developing and error corrections. It splits the challenge into 5 working days or less:

Mon: You make a map of the problem space and choose a target problem and customer
Tues: You sketch competing solution options with the team
Weds: You decide on the best solution and draft first ideas of prototypes
Thurs: You build a realistic prototype
Fri: You test it with target customers and collect feedback

In this blog posts I’m less focused on the details of the running of design Sprints but more on the right fit for a long term Growth hacking strategy. In other words, why kick-start your new product development project with a design print right at the start.

The benefits of a successful Growth Strategy and how Design Sprints can contribute 

We live in a world where deadlines are more important than the actual quality of work we try to fit in. In other words, we focus so much on the outcome and detailed design specifications of what we will build that we forget the benefits that the customers will gain.  

See Design Sprints as main part of a long term goal for the Growth Hacking Marathon Click To Tweet

The main focus areas for Growth Hacking are:

  • To get as many visitors to convert to happy paying customers
  • To cheaply and quickly figure out what growth strategies work and don’t work for you
  • To then maximise the value gained from your marketing and product development budget
  • To build repeatable, scalable strategies for growing your business. You see – it’s more than just marketing

We at focus on building profitable, scalable business models while highlighting their customers’ need. That`s why we help our clients with digital transformations through Digital Product ManagementLean Innovation and Agile Leadership coursesDesign Sprints are a major part of a long term Growth Hacking strategy and essential when it comes to work with the customer on improving the product from early design onwards.

To set up a Growth Hacking Strategy, we work with our clients for an initial 3 months on

  • A1 Goal-Setting Workshop
  • A2 Assessment
  • A3 Discovery Sprints (ideal phase for Design Sprints!)

Before scaling up growth operations (marketing and product enhancements) via a continous collaboration.

  • B1 Scale it UP

In the next week’s Blog posts we will focus on each individual phase in more details, provide insight knowledge, workshop ideas and advice. If you are interested to learn more about our upcoming Design Sprints as well as upcoming courses and events visit our website and sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know about our next course. Drop us an e-mail at hello (at)

Author: Daniel Ludwig – bi-lingual (English / German – native) facilitator and social entrepreneur with work experience in US, UK, EUROPE ASIA specialized on social entrepreneurship, design thinking tools and SDG Sustainable Development Goals. TwitterLinkedIn  

Keywords: Lean Innovation, Design Sprints ,Mid-managers, Line managers, agile coaches, change agents, entrepreneurs, product managers, product owners, Product Managers, Product Line Managers, Product Owners, Business Owners, Business Analysts
, Solution Managers, Portfolio Managers, Program Managers, PMO personnel, Process Leads
, Enterprise, Solution, and System Architects, Sprints, Olympic Games

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