Career advancement in UX is not a straight-forward matter. It’s no wonder – the field is relatively new, and the requirements for the roles keep morphing and evolving, leaving UX designers puzzled: Where will my career go? Where can it go? And how do I level up if the demands if the roles keep changing constantly??
While there’s no way to predict the future with a 100% certainty (that we know of…), there are some strong trends that make it pretty clear where the market is moving towards. As the UX industry gets more saturated with skilled designers, merely delivering on your direct responsibilities and getting better at your craft isn’t going to cut it.
Businesses will need designers who are able to look past their direct job description, and can connect business strategy and goals to the product development process. If you are able to solve big business challenges and build products and services that are in line with the growth trajectory of your company, you’ll be able to progress much quicker, but best of all–you’ll be seen as a strategic partner rather than a mere executor.
How exactly do you do that? By learning how to facilitate.
Being a Good Facilitator is Key to Being a Good Designer
Designers naturally end up facilitating A LOT over the course of their professional lives. The most common context is trying to balance the requirements of several different departments, aligning your team on a feature, or presenting and collecting feedback on the research you have conducted.
The better, more effective those sessions are - the smoother your design process will be.
But here’s the thing: Working together efficiently is an inherently challenging thing for people to do. Working-style differences, politics that always creep into any group setting, and asymmetrical knowledge are just parts of the overall problem. The underlying issue, however, is that conventional collaboration scenarios don’t address that!
This is how most of the projects start out….
A cross-functional team gets together in a room, and members just start throwing out ideas. Often it turns into a war of who can speak the loudest, or who is the most senior in the room. Or it goes to the other extreme, where no one wants to make a decision without the entire group being on board.
So how do you address that? By learning effective facilitation techniques and becoming the facilitator.
Having a foundation in facilitation helps you throughout the entire design process.
It helps you to gather requirements, constraints, and expectations from stakeholders at the start of the project, have more fruitful collaborative design sessions, and have streamlined processes for iteration.
Besides, once you’re seen as the person who can come in and help others do their work better and with less annoyance, you’ll be sought after for every project. It’s a GREAT career move because you become the catalyst for getting work done better.
Workshops are the easiest, most effective way to facilitate ANY design discussion. They’re a great tool for facilitating design decision-making, future-proofing your career, and fostering a culture of corporate innovation.
There’s just one caveat…
Not all workshops are equally as effective. And nothing takes the wind out of your sails quite like a disastrous facilitation experience.
The good news is: there’s an existing tried and tested recipe for an effective workshop that will yield great results 100% of the time–the Design Sprint.
What’s a Design Sprint?
In a nutshell, the Design Sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. It was developed at Google Ventures to help startups make better decisions (without wasting a ton of money).
It’s a a systemised formulaic workshop , a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, and design thinking—packaged neatly into a step-by-step process that any team can use. The Design Sprint allows for cross functional teams to come together, align on a challenge, come up with a variety of solutions (all without the usual hassle of navigating groupthink and office politics!) and ultimately...make decisions faster and better than ever before.
There’s a reason all of the Silicon Valley giants like Google, Slack, and Twitter swear by Design Sprint–it’s a fast, intense, and proven way to guide a team to an actionable solution. So instead of dabbling into workshops that might or might not work, you can start practicing a method that has been proven effective by hundreds of companies already.
But even though the process itself sounds cool, you're probably wondering...How exactly will it help you stand out from the crowd and get ahead?
The Design Sprint is a MASSIVE time and money saver
Imagine investing thousands of dollars and good six months into a new project that ends up getting no traction… (you can practically hear the company’s bank account draining, right?)
That’s where the Design Sprint comes into play to save the day.
It was invented at Google Ventures with the sole purpose of giving startups a safe way to test ideas before pouring time and investment into a project that might be a flop.
The process fully covers the key stages of validating any idea: defining the problem, devising solutions and testing those solutions with real people.
At the end of a Sprint, your team will be left with a tested prototype and a clear idea of whether you should pursue the new idea or not.
So guess who’ll get promoted- the person who can save the company tons of money!
Say ‘bye-bye’ to wasting time and money on ideas that would’ve failed and ‘hello’ to stellar growth.
The Design Sprint lets you quickly generate and prioritise the right ideas
Imagine this: your team has just been tasked with launching your top-selling product in a brand-new market. Everyone has competing opinions on how you should sell it, what it should be like, and when you should start.
How do you get anything done without endless discussions??
You guessed it–The Design Sprint.
The method is structured in a way that lets you pool your team’s best knowledge, come up with potential solutions and choose the one to pursue in just two days. All without falling prey to design by committee, groupthink or hidden bias. Wooo!
Learn how to design your own custom workshops
The Design Sprint lets you work faster with ZERO burnout
Contrary to what the modern hustle culture might have you believe, career progression does NOT have to equal burnout. Especially if you’ve got the Design Sprint in your toolbox.
It lets you cut out all those hidden inefficiencies that drag you down on a daily basis: excruciatingly ineffective meetings, long launch phases and busywork. It prioritizes progress over perfection, so you invest your time where it matters.
You get an in-demand skill you can leverage in ANY role
The Sprint is a repeatable process for solving complex problems with a clear plan. Having this in your toolbox can get you ahead of the competition in pretty much any role you take on.
By becoming a Design Sprint facilitator you level up from being an executor to a valuable strategic partner for your team, boss, or clients.
On top of that, mastering Design Sprint facilitation techniques will help you in any collaborative work setting. Corporate training programs, branding sessions, team-building workshops, content strategy planning… you name it!
You don’t have to rely on your wit to keep the room under control. The Sprint process has all the exercises you need to drive efficiency and get people hyped! The technique can help you add form (and reduce chaos) to corporate training programs, branding sessions, and team-building workshops.
The Design Sprint makes you enjoy your work more
So what if you can build better products, make informed decisions and move the team faster? If you get Sunday-night dread just at the thought of going back to work on Monday, none of this stuff really matters.
Good news is–jumping on the Design Sprint bandwagon not only makes you more effective but also makes you enjoy your work more!
We recently surveyed our Design Sprint Masterclass alumni to understand whether the Design Sprint has tangible benefits outside the productivity and focus domain and ohhh boy we were excited to see the results….
- 92% of the alumni enjoy their work MORE after learning the Sprint
- 94% are confident it will further their career
Enjoying the work you do every day is truly transformational. It makes you a million times more motivated, driven and resilient.
Career and financial success come as a nice side-benefits to being fully invested in the job you do. A pretty sweet deal if you ask us.
You can minimise the risk of trying new ideas
The Sprint method gives you the power to say those four words every business owner wants to hear: user-tested and approved (or “we know what’s wrong”). Trialing solutions with a small group lets you forecast how your customers will react to your idea. These insights are key to maximising budgets and creating products that reflect a real need in your market.
So if you’ve been on the lookout for ways to to improve your current situation: whether you want to have more fun at work, make more progress in your career, change your current position on the corporate ladder, or increase your business’ monthly revenue – The Design Sprint can help you turn your work life around.
So how do you get started with learning the Design Sprint?
When you first find out about the Design Sprint process, it might seem like A LOT. It’s a whole new world of information and tactics — and it can be overwhelming. But not to worry, we’ve gathered all the best resources (both paid and free) to help you master Design Sprint in no time.
- Facilitation & Design Sprint Webclass — Get valuable facilitation tips andlearn how to start implementing Design Sprints in your team.
- Step-by-step Design Sprint presentations: Wayfair’s 100-page version & SprintCube’s 226-page version.
- Trello Board for Design Sprint 2.0 — Videos! For the Sprint (A collection of quick videos organized by day and topic)
- Our YouTube Channel! We CONSTANTLY share valuable knowledge there so you don’t want to miss out, on that one.
- Workshopper blog! Since you are here now anyway, take a look around, we always share loads of resources (most of them for free) and strive to enable Workshopper all over the world to do their best work. Here are the best Design Sprint articles to get you started: Handy hacks to make your Sprints smooth, 11 most frequently asked Design Sprint questions answered by Jake Knapp, Design Sprint Myths, and our fave: the Step-by-Step Guide for Design Sprint Beginners
- Great Case Studies: Lego, Oak, Share Foods, and Zero.
- Jake And Jonathan Podcast — All things design Sprint and some interesting side-chat. (1,000 sticks rating!)
- The Workshopper Playbook. This book will teach you the ultimate framework for running any type of workshop. After reading it you’ll understand exactly why are Design Sprints so effective, and will be able to create your own custom workshops to fit virtually any challenge. Oh, did we mention we’re giving it out for free?! Get it here while supplies last.
- Sprint book by Jake Knapp
- Our Design Sprint Masterclass. This is the best, most thorough resource for anyone looking to run Sprints on their own.
Just like with any other skill, practice makes perfect. SOgo out there and get a few Sprints under your belt and you’ll not only future-proof your career as a VIP employee, but you’ll achieve incredible breakthroughs as well. Good luck to you!