Sprints Are the Secret to Getting More Done

Sprints Are

Here is an excerpt from an article written by John Zeratsky for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, obtain subscription information, and receive HBR email alerts, please click here.

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Most workdays aren’t terribly productive. We spend too much time on email, have too many meetings, then struggle to find the willpower and energy to focus on what’s really important.

Although plenty of experts have proposed systems and philosophies for getting more done at work, my writing partner Jake Knapp decided in 2009 to come up with his own solution: the sprint. It’s a five-day process that helps teams focus on one big goal and move from idea to prototype to customer research in that short span of time. The idea is to fast-forward a project, so you can see what the end result might look like and how the market will react. It’s also a popular construct in agile project management.

At GV, we’ve tested the process with more than 100 startups, helping them use sprints to answer big questions, test new business ideas, and solve critical challenges. We’ve seen firsthand, again and again, how they help teams get more done and move faster.

These aren’t all-out, late-night, stack-of-pizza-boxes-on-the-conference-table types of affairs that only work for fledgling Internet companies though. They work in larger organizations too, and they fit into a normal working schedule. The sprint day typically lasts from 10 AM to 5 PM, so participants still have plenty of time to see their families and friends, get enough sleep — and, yeah, stay caught up on email.

Why do sprints help teams get more done? It’s not just about speed. It’s also about momentum, focus, and confidence. The companies who use sprints (in fields like oncology, robotics, coffee, and dozens more) see consistent results from the process. Here are five of the most important outcomes.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

ZeratskyJohn Zeratskyis a design partner at Google Ventures and co-author of SPRINT: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days (Simon & Schuster, 2016).

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