Define Product Design

January 3, 2022
Data-Driven Product Design

A critical path diagramA Product Design Sprint (invented by Google Ventures) is a 5-phase exercise which uses design thinking to reduce the inherent risks in successfully bringing products to market. We’ve done many product design sprints and have made them a standard part of our consulting engagements.

Participating in a Design Sprint orients the entire team and aims their efforts at hitting clearly defined goals. Sprints are useful starting points when kicking off a new feature, workflow, product, business or solving problems with an existing product.

Integrating design sprints and design thinking into our product development process keeps us aligned with our goals, and helps us invest our time and money wisely.


With Design Thinking, we use empathy to see the world through our customers eyes and understand their problems as they experience them. There may be many technological, financial, political, religious, human, and social and cultural forces involved. It is our job to develop a holistic understanding of these problems and forces and contextualize them in a greater world schema.

In addition to our own perspective, we aim to understand the perspectives of as many other people as possible to better diversify our understanding.

A storyboardEmpathy is the primary focus of Phase 1 (Understand) and a major part of Phase 5 (Test and Learn). We should aim to always maintain empathy when solving problems and building products for humans.


Creativity is opportunity discovery. We use creativity to generate insights and solution concepts.

The most creative solutions are inspired by unique insights and intersecting perspectives. Empathy, as described above, empowers our ability to understand different perspectives and be more creative.

Collaboration inspires creativity. More perspectives, ideas, and insights lead to more opportunity.

Creativity is the focus of Phase 2 (Diverge), but is present in all phases (developing prototypes, testing/interviewing, researching/observing, creating experiments, etc.)


We use rationality to fit solutions to the problem context through experimentation, testing and qualitative/quantitative measurements. This is the primary focus of Phase 3 (Converge) and Phase 5 (Test and Learn).

Design Thinking should pervade all of our processes outside the design sprint as well, from engineering to marketing to business development. In a complex business ecosystem design thinking can be used as a holistic approach to facilitating and maintaining a symbiotic relationship with your customers.

The Sprint Phases

A typical length for a project kick-off sprint is five days, with each day representing a different phase.

This timeframe is not rigid and should adapt to the specific needs of the problem. For example, some phases may need more than a full day and others may need less.

The aim is to develop a product or feature idea into a prototype that can be tested to help us fill our riskiest knowledge gaps, validate or invalidate our riskiest assumptions and guide future work.

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