Developing a breakthrough product isn’t a matter of luck: it’s about the right team communicating efficiently and focusing efforts towards a well defined goal.

Jake Knapp first hit on the Sprint Method while developing Google Hangouts with colleagues from Google Stockholm. They had the basic idea for the application, but only a three day window to work in. Knapp realised while working within a strict time constraint, in a small team with a well defined goal, they achieved a level of productivity he had never experienced in day to day life. This method of nailing down a testable prototype is codified in Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, which promptly hit the #1 spot on Amazon’s Entrepreneurship category.

As a member company of the Columbia Startup Lab cohort, I was lucky enough to attend the Sprint book launch event in New York City which was hosted by Columbia University’s Business and Engineering School.

Sprinting to a Breakthrough

Developing a new product is a gamble: a team needs to project the time and work needed to develop their idea, and hope that it will pay off when they release it.

The process has a high degree of uncertainty, as it’s difficult to predict how well the public will receive a new product without prior exposure. If reception turns out to be lackluster, then the hard work and man-hours invested in the product are wasted. 

The Sprint method aims to condense and streamline the idea-to-product pipeline, and take an idea from blueprint to alpha testing in only five days. In this way, a company can minimize their wagered resources, with even greater potential winnings when their product hits the market ahead of schedule. And it makes the process of product development a game of practical interrogation, rather than a simply a case of following a project plan.

Sprints start out with picking the perfect team, consisting of five to seven members, specially selected beforehand for their efficiency and cohesiveness. Apart from driving efficiency in the product development process, Sprints are also great team-builders. Seeing your team-mates doing their best work and learning to rely on each of them to play their parts in the process is a surefire way of strengthening personal and professional bonds.

Conserving Energy Through Deliberately Restricting Time And Effort

The Sprint method deliberately circumvents time-heavy communication methods, and transferring information between team members efficiently by radically shortening the timeline to hit a well defined goal. This means goals have to be more specific and measurable than most groups are used to co-ordinating around.

Rather than rally around an amorphous “big goal,” the goal of every sprint is to break down the project into lots of smaller and specific goals that yield a very clear answer. So, instead of aiming to have a fully functioning product at the end of a Sprint, the team changes their focus to effectively answering a single question that could critically influence future product development.

This stringent time limit means there’s no time to waste on chitchat. Brainstorming is great for letting everybody in a large team feel like they’re been heard, but not so good for getting to the heart of a problem. Brainstorming can often lead to too many ideas that are difficult for the team to bring down to earth and implement. This is where the power of “The Sprint” becomes obvious – take the best idea from that brainstorm and test the implications of it in just five days.

What To Expect At Our Creating a Breakthrough Event in New York

The Sprint method was originally developed by refining the development process to optimize for results in product development. But the key concept of “answering a specific question,” can be applied to any aspect of your company – from developing internal operations to testing marketing campaigns. We’re in love with the Sprint method for this reason.

Similarly, getting specific questions answered is also the goal behind our forthcoming Startup Socials New York Chapter event series for 2016.

Our March 31 event in NYC, “Creating a Breakthrough” is a three-hour workshop designed to inspire marketing professionals to superpower their work practices and achieve their goals. Our goal is to have you leave the event with the confidence and courage to pursue your own marketing experiments immediately.

The workshop will kick off with 3 short presentations from marketing professionals tackling big and interesting problems. They’ll share what thy’ve been working on, what they’re working on now, and what’s been working for them in general. The centerpiece of the event will be a keynote presentation by ideation expert and innovation consultant, Bryan Mattimore, author of “Idea Stormers” and “21 Days to A Big idea” who will explain how to nurture the flow of ideas that are essential to creating breakthrough products.

The heart of the Sprint method is the efficient idea exchange within a team, so after absorbing some fresh perspectives from presentations made by NYC marketing experts, our roundtable discussion tables will allow you to bring any business or marketing query for them to answer.

We’ll have roundtables on SEO, Social Media, Content Strategy, Paid Media and Programmatic to name a few. Each hosted by a member of the Startup Socials New York Chapter community who has demonstrated expertise on that topic. Roundtables often vary in size depending on the topic but they are always a small group affair that is perfect for open discussion. Whatever challenges you face in generating a breakthrough for your company, you can bring your specific questions to the roundtables and get answers to tailored to your issue.

To close the evening, there will be an informal yet informative Q&A session with the entire floor, and you’ll get a chance to decompress, network and share your insights over beer and pizza — we’re sure you’ll have a lot to chew over. After all, this event might only be three hours long, but the Sprint method proves that going into a well structured process, with the right attitude, can yield impressive results. We hope to see you there!

Breakthrough

What Makes Our Startup Socials New York Chapter Events Unique

We have a full year of monthly workshops planned that will all follow the same format of presentations, roundtables, keynote presentation followed by Q&A.

The aim of all our presentations is to get your brains whirring such that you start to contextualize the marketing challenges you face at your own company. However, what makes our event different from most other marketing events is that our New York Chapter members set the agenda for discussion. Over 50% of the topics discussed in person at the event will be crowdsourced in real time.

We do this because – through our own sprint tests of this event format over the past 5 years – we discovered a HUGE INSIGHT. That insight was:

Our speakers are not the only experts in the room!

Past events have proved our attendees are great at helping each other unravel problems and tackle specific issues.

Do you have no idea as to how you might reach an obscure market niche? Do you have a weird internal policy issue that you cannot resolve with your boss? Do you need to show results with no budget? You’re almost guaranteed to find someone else who has overcome a similar challenge.

If you’d like to get more of a sense of what to expect, check out some testimonial videos from when I first launched this concept, to cover SEO, PPC, Video, and Social marketing, at Search Engine Strategies San Francisco in 2011.

What The Audience Thought

What The Presenters Thought

Author Jonathan Allen

Jonathan Allen is a search and social marketing specialist and formerly the Director of the award winning search engine news publication, Search Engine Watch. Under Jonathan’s stewardship, Search Engine Watch grew from 600,000 pageviews a month to over 1.4 million and in May 2012, won the Gold Azbee National Award for “Online Excellence, New or Relaunched Web Site” from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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