How the Sprint Mentality Can Accelerate Product Development

By Adam Lifshitz — Executive Director of Product, Concierge.com

Check out Adam's podcast on the Sprint Mentality here!

Recently, I gave a short talk at MADE X, a monthly speaker session for all employees, friends, guests, and industry professionals that is hosted at Made Agency, South Africa, speaking on The Sprint Mentality. As someone who is always looking for more efficient and creative ways to solve problems and develop products, I’ve been experimenting and diving into different types of product design sprints which have been immensely productive.

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Rather than focusing on a specific sprint methodology, I spoke about the mentality behind it and shared some fundamental principles I believe are common to all of these executions.

Firstly, what does Sprint Mentality mean? For me, it’s an overarching approach to solving problems and challenges collaboratively through exercises and workshops that are founded upon design thinking. As for the sprints, to those I refer in a broader, generic sense as executions of design thinking. Where design thinking is a methodology, a sprint is its actionable execution that applies it.

Design sprints, or similar types of workshops and executions, come in many forms and every day, new ways of problem solving are being introduced by leading professionals worldwide (shout out to Jake Knapp, GV and Jonathan Courtney). And while the executions mentioned can follow different exercises, time frames and focal points, I believe they are based on some key commonalities:

  • Collaboration: Solutions are driven by the collaborative efforts of many different minds and perspectives, rather than a single individual’s vision

  • All stakeholders: Moving away from a waterfall approach, every person that has some stake in the product sits in at the same time — from the copywriters, designers, and developers, to the CEO, customer, and industry experts

  • Distraction free: Most workshops will entail a distraction free environment. Leave other work behind, find a quiet area, and start sprinting. Often all phones and laptops are not allowed — we’re going back to basics

  • Structured: The beauty of any sprint is that it follows a carefully crafted and timed series of exercises, that collectively aim to lead the participating team to solve the desired challenges

  • Facilitated: To maintain flow, structure and reach end-results, sprints are facilitated by someone that is familiar with their process and comfortable leading the team through the exercises

  • All equal: During a sprint, irrespective of your role, profession or position, all are equal. Everyone contributes, everyone has equal say, everyone builds the solution and everyone celebrates it

  • They’re quick: Most importantly, as the name entails, sprints are QUICK! The workshops are designed to make the most of your time so you can walk away with solutions quicker than through other means

I encouraged the audience through these basic commonalities (and will encourage you to do the same) — develop your own methodologies, or study those in existence, and start sprinting right away, for anything and everything.  

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 10.21.04 AM Adam Lifshitz is our Executive Director of Product at Concierge.com. Originally hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, he moved to New York in 2017 to continue his career in leading teams to build successful software products. He carries over seven years of experience in the digital industry, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Management Studies. He’s particularly meticulous about process and efficient ways of collaborating with people to achieve goals, in business and otherwise. Listen and subscribe to his podcast, Really Adam, here!

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