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Book Summary – Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

Sprint - Book summary

A design sprint is an accelerated approach to innovation and problem-solving. In this book, Jake Knapp—the inventor of Sprint—explains how you can compress your design-thinking to significantly reduce the risk of launching a new innovation or product. Specifically, this step-by-step guide will show you how to define your target, find a solution, create and test a prototype within 5 days. These insights can be applied to any organization or challenge. In this Sprint summary, we’ll outline the key principles and steps involved in running a design sprint. Do get more details from our complete book summary bundle in text, infographic, and audio formats.

Sprint summary - book summary bundle

Sprint: Book Overview

Like many people, Jake Knapp was frustrated with his busy but unproductive work days. He started to research and experiment with productivity and process improvements. After he joined Google, he invented Sprints, which quickly became a hit in Google. Knapp’s team continued to test and refine the sprint process, and also ran 100+ sprints with Google Venture (GV) start-ups. This book distills their insights into a detailed blueprint for running sprints in just 5 days.

Why Bother with Sprints?

A good idea, when executed properly, can bring huge payoffs. Sprints can be used by almost anyone to solve real-world problems and make your workdays more efficient and meaningful.

Basically, sprints allow you to fast-forward into the future to figure out (i) if an idea would work, and (ii) what are the risks and challenges you must address for it to work.  The 5-day timeframe is long enough to develop good solutions, yet short enough to force people to stay focused.

In the book, Jake Knapp shares many detailed case studies, such as: (i) a new fitness app trying to explain what it offers so customers will download the app, (ii) a health records company trying to help oncologists to easily find the right treatments for patients, and (iii) a café chain trying to create its online store. We’ll now outline some of the main principles in this free Sprint summary — do get a copy of our full 16-page summary for more implementation tips, details and 1 detailed case study.

Sprint summary - overview of sprint book


There are several pre-requisites and ingredients that you must prepare prior to the sprint, including:

• Choose an important challenge (e.g. a project with high stakes, an urgent problem, and/or a problem where you’re stuck in). Ideally, focus on the point where customers meet your solution.

• Assemble a diverse team with the critical skills, including 1-2 Deciders (official decision-makers) and experts in these areas: finance, marketing, customer, tech/logistics, and design. You’ll also need a separate Facilitator.

• Block out the team’s calendar for 5 days (Mon-Fri), during which the team will lock itself inside a  Sprint room without digital devices (except to present a prototype or idea), so they can focus 100% on the challenge.

• Prepare the supplies/logistics in advance.

In our complete Sprint summary (click here for full book summary), we’ll explain more about each of these components, as well as the specific considerations and tips for the 5 days of Sprint. For now, let’s take a quick look at what’s involved.

The Sprint Process: A Day-by-Day Guide

Over the 5-day sprint, you will map out the challenge, choose a target, sketch out your ideas, select the best solution and prototype it, before testing it with target customers. The book gives a step-by-step breakdown of the exact tasks and actions by the hour, and how you can execute them effectively with the help of a facilitator. For a detailed summary of the steps with examples per day, do get our full 16-page Sprint summary.

Monday: Map out the Challenge and Choose a Target

This is the day you get crystal-clear on the questions you’ll address by the end of your 5-day sprint, and how exactly they’ll support your long-term goals. In our full book summary, we’ll address the key questions to ask, how to draw a map of your challenge, how to conduct your expert interviews, and use the “How Might We” approach to organize and prioritize your insights. Your end-goal is to choose a target that’s ambitious but achievable within 1 week.

Tuesday: Come up with Solutions

All good innovations are built on other ideas. On Tuesday, you’ll gather and integrate existing ideas  using “Lightning Demos”, and use the Four-Step Sketch process to flesh out solution details and alternatives.

Wednesday: Critique and Choose the Best Solution

This is the day for decision-making. You’ll be reviewing the solutions from the previous day, critiquing all of them, then selecting the best option (or combination of options) to be tested. In our full Sprint summary, we’ll explain the 5 steps to reach a “sticky decision” and how to develop a storyboard (which will be used to develop your prototype).

Thursday: Build a Realistic Prototype

On this day, you’re going to build a prototype in just 7 hours. Your prototype is like a movie set—it looks realistic, but it’s not real. Check out our complete 16-page summary to learn about how to think about and choose the right tools for your prototype, how go about building it and doing a trial run, all in 1 day.

Friday: Test with Target Customers

Within 4 days, you’d have progressed from a vague challenge to a realistic prototype. By the end of Friday, you’d know how much further you have to go, and exactly what to do next. You’ll need to set up 2 rooms in advance: an interview room (where you’ll interview 5 target customers sequentially), and an observer room (where the team will observe the interviews using live video feeds, facilitate the tests, and take notes).

Get our full summary and infographic for more tips and examples!

Putting it Together

Here’s a quick overview of the key tasks/steps to expect over the 5 days.  In our full summary bundle, we’ll explain how to go about implementing them, along with additional tips for the facilitator and interviewer.

Sprint summary - summary of the 5-day sprint process

Other Details in the Book Sprint by Jake Knapp

In our full summary, we’ve captured the key principles, steps and tips for a design sprint. This is an extremely detailed book with loads of useful examples, diagrams, checklists and FAQs to help you run your own sprints. Jake Knapp recommends beginners to follow all the steps and checklists initially. Once you’ve grasped the process, you can experiment with other alternatives. Do get a copy of the book for the full details, get our Sprint full summary bundle for an overview of the various ideas and tips, or check out more resources/details


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Find and test the solution to any challenge within 5 days!

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