Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just 5 Days Book Cover Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just 5 Days
Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Brad Kowitz,
Bantam Press
March 10, 2016

This book gives you a field-tested, step-by-step, process for taking any idea from its infancy to a go/no go decision—in just five days. It probably sounds too good to be true—I sure was skeptical. However, author Jake Knapp, created the Google Ventures sprint process and has led sprints for everything from Gmail to Google X which gives him some pretty serious credibility.

Sprint is an interesting and entertaining read filled with great real-world examples of how different companies used a sprint to answer critical business questions. The format follows the framework of an actual sprint so you understand what happens each day along the way. While each sprint is an exercise in speed and urgency it’s not at the expense of good thinking. It really drove home how much can be accomplished when there is a very tight, shared deadline against a focused objective—and meeting-a-rama is not part of the equation.

You’ll want to go and immediately run a sprint when you get back to work after reading this book. It’s so logical to focus your best thinkers for five days in order to save hundreds of meeting hours, time going down blind alleys, and the politicking that comes along with any change. But the resistance to trying a new way of problem solving is anything but rational. In fact, just convincing management and team members to take 5 consecutive days to dedicate to solving one specific business problem—no matter how critical—seems daunting. The authors are very clear about what can (and has) gone wrong in previous sprints--most specifically not having the decision maker there for the entirety of the session.

It certainly seems worth the effort to pilot a sprint (assuming your problem is appropriate) within your span of control in order to help make a business case to management. With the pace of business ever increasing, anything that can help make better decisions faster is worth trying.

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life (www.ourcorporatelife.com) to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company, CNBC.com, and Monster.com. She lives in New Jersey with her family.