5 reasons leaders should love Design Sprints (and use them!)

Jackie Colburn
4 min readJan 9, 2024


Design Sprints have the incredible ability to unlock the full potential of a team’s creativity and push innovation to new heights — that’s why they’re such a powerful leadership tool. If you run a product team or oversee folks responsible for innovation, my hope is that you’ve learned how to leverage this wildly productive format to your advantage. After nearly eight years of facilitating Design Sprints, I can confidently say they’re just as effective now as they ever were. Time and time again, I’ve seen firsthand how crucial they are to fostering breakthroughs, aligning visions, and propelling businesses forward.

That said, I also know how difficult it can be to clear calendars and get a team on board with a multi-day workshop. In fact, when I first got my hands on a pre-ordered copy of the Design Sprint book in 2016, it took some serious convincing to get my former in-house team to agree to let me start running them. But once they saw what we could accomplish, it was ON. The team wanted more and so did I.

If you’re having a hard time getting over the commitment hump, here are 5 reasons why you really can’t afford not to Sprint with your team.

1. Design Sprints create a kind of focus that doesn’t exist in the modern workplace

People are increasingly fractured and distracted in the way that they spend their time, so coming together in a dedicated space for a dedicated amount of time to focus supercharges the potential of the work. And, as it turns out, humans really like to go heads-down on problem solving, but often don’t get to because of so many competing commitments and distractions. After I lead a team through a Sprint, everyone is amazed at how much they accomplished and how good it felt to focus on the endeavor at hand.

2. Drawing and prototyping exercises unlock clarity and alignment

Helping teams move ideas from their minds into sketch format is no small task, but doing it successfully does wonders for building a shared understanding of the ideas you’re exploring. The Design Sprint process really delivers on this dimension thanks to the emphasis on sketching and prototyping. By taking your team through drawing exercises and giving structure to your prototype, you help them align on and rally around the work. And a prototype isn’t just great for testing — it’s also a way to share the concept with others in the organization beyond the core team who may need to understand the idea or buy into it.

3. Sprint methods pull the best ideas out of everyone, and that creates better solutions

When you bring together different perspectives and specialists to work on a problem, it increases the potential for great solutions to emerge. Part of this magic is the Design Sprint’s ability to democratize decision making and neutralize power dynamics. In doing so, you can create an environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute which is key to tapping into the creative potential of each person and generating solutions that wouldn’t emerge in isolation.

4. Design Sprints save you a lot of time

I know, I know, it’s scary (and hard!) to block your team’s schedules for five full days. It can seem hard to justify “taking them away from their work” for a full week, but when you commit you’re actually increasing efficiency tenfold. Here’s why: Design Sprints create space for synchronous work, eliminating the typical communication breakdowns that are so common when projects are spread out over long periods of time. Just think about how much time is wasted debriefing and then rebriefing people as they stop and start working on an endeavor. Or how much sentiment and efficiency is lost in emailing back and forth. It’s amazing how much time and energy is saved when the team’s full attention is focused on the problem at hand.

5. Teams get real-time, actionable customer feedback

One of the most insightful parts of a Design Sprint is the ability to test your prototype with real people in the same week it’s created! The approach ensures that you’ll get to put your prototype in front of people who represent your customer and see what they have to say about it. This part of the process is a huge opportunity to test whether or not you solved for the questions or hypotheses you set out to answer. You may also discover new opportunities or ideas that you hadn’t even considered before, and will certainly come away with a deeper understanding of your customer, their pain points, and their aspirations. The insights gleaned during this process stick in a meaningful and memorable way that I’ve never seen a research report recreate.

If you want a reliable way to enhance collaboration and innovation among your team members, I can’t recommend Design Sprints enough. Even after eight years of leading these sessions, I still find so much to love about them after every repetition.

If the thought of running one yourself feels too overwhelming or time-consuming, send me a note. I can either facilitate a Design Sprint for your team, or lead you or a small group through a Design Sprint training so that you can more effectively guide teams through sessions as you fold this critical practice into your process.

Leave a few claps if you found this post helpful, and definitely drop a comment if there’s a specific subject you’d like me to write about in the future.



Jackie Colburn

Weekly resources for facilitators and leaders. Learn tips and methods to run better workshops, accelerate teams and uncover new ideas. www.jackiecolburn.com