The A-Z of Disruption: J is for Justice

How do you do justice to a disruptive concept? In the latest instalment of our A-Z of Disruption series, Rich Wood, director at Cheddar Creative, explains how a design sprint could be the perfect way to take your idea to the next level.

Rich, who is a Tech Corridor Ambassador, explains: “At Cheddar Creative, we use human-centred design and ‘creative play’ to help businesses craft amazing customer experiences and solve problems – the more challenging the better!

“One of the techniques we use for more difficult problems is the Sprint. The Sprint framework was developed by Google Ventures to help the companies they work with solve “big” problems, test new ideas and create basic prototypes in as little as 5 days.

“In theory, a Sprint can be used to prototype and test anything – physical products and experiences, websites and digital services, marketing strategies, referral schemes, customer loyalty and employee engagement programmes, you get the idea.

“Sprints encourage project teams to approach difficult problems from different angles and get stuck into creating possible solutions rather than falling victim to the dreaded ‘Analysis Paralysis’!

Rich Wood, centre, with fellow Cheddar Creative directors Yasmin Willis (left) and Cassie Bendall (right)

The Joy of Sprints

“Sprints are great because they break organisation-wide knowledge out of the usual silos and into a central repository of inspiration and insight which becomes the source for 5 days of focused activity. Sprint days run from 10am to 5pm with breaks and an hour for lunch, so there’s time to fit important work stuff around them.

“A week might sound like a big commitment, but Sprints can save huge amounts of time, money and other resources as they reduce the risk of a business putting its efforts into the wrong thing. Who wouldn’t want to discover as quickly as possible whether an idea is worth pursuing?

“If the idea does turn out to be bad, it’s much easier to walk away from as you’ve only invested a week so the emotional attachment won’t be there.”

The Sprint Framework

Here’s a top-level overview of the 5-day Sprint structure…

Day 1 – Map

Monday AM – define a problem & set a long-term goal – ambitious but manageable

Monday PM – list questions & ask the experts – gather the knowledge you’ll need

Day 2 – Sketch

Tuesday AM – find inspiration & generate ideas

Tuesday PM – start sketching possible solutions – doesn’t matter if you can’t draw!

Day 3 – Decide

Wednesday AM – review ideas/solutions & vote for the best

Wednesday PM – create a storyboard from the best idea(s) – just enough detail

Day 4 – Prototype

Thursday – create a lo-fi prototype based on the storyboard – a realistic façade is all you need

Day 5 – Test! (and Learn)

Friday – get your prototype in front of real-world users (5 is plenty) & gather feedback/insights – ask open questions


Analyse the user feedback and decide what to do next – carry on developing the prototype, bin it and start again with another idea, or run another Sprint to get more answers.

Things to Remember

  • It’s a Sprint “framework” not a rigid set of rules. If you need to bend things to better suit your needs, go for it.
  • Don’t get bogged down in debate. Maintaining momentum is really important, so appoint a “decider” who can step in and make a call if it feels like you’re going round in circles.
  • Include a “troublemaker” – someone who isn’t scared to challenge groupthink.
  • A Sprint isn’t always 100% successful. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan. There’s almost always something useful you can take away from it.

When is a Sprint Justified? If it’s a big problem that requires a creative solution, if the stakes (cost of getting it wrong) are high, if you’re short on time, or if you’re just plain stuck, you should definitely consider a Sprint.

This has been a very brief introduction to the Sprint framework. If you’re interested in learning more, read the Sprint book by Jake Knapp, visit, or give us a shout. I’m not saying we’re good at Sprints, but we’d give Usain a run for his money!

Want to find out more?

Rich and the team from Cheddar will be delivering a talk on design sprint principles at Tech & Toast, Tech East’s regular breakfast networking event. They will be speaking at the next Cambridge event on March 13 at the Bradfield Centre, Cambridge Science Park. Find out more and book your free place here.