How to solve big problems as fast as Google does

AUTHOR Q&A: Google Ventures' Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky come up with ideas fast in their new book Sprint.

by Adam Gale
Credit: brionv/Wikipedia
Credit: brionv/Wikipedia

In a nutshell, what is a sprint?

A sprint's where a team identifies a major problem on a Monday, comes up with solutions on a Tuesday, decides which is the best on a Wednesday, prototypes it on a Thursday and tests it with potential users on a Friday. It's human nature to want to get everything right before you release a product, but it's really dangerous because you could be on the wrong track. A sprint's not a long-term risk like that - if your idea doesn't work out, you've only sacrificed five days.

Where did the idea come from?

After a couple of years at Google, I noticed that when we did our best work, it wasn’t a normal, everyday thing, it was in these strange little bursts of work that happen sometimes. A sprint’s about trying to reproduce those bright spots. We experimented, refined it and made it something universally applicable. It’s not just for software developers. 

What's wrong with brainstorming?

A lot of people really like brainstorming because it's fun and it feels productive, but it still doesn't produce good ideas. We looked back at all the brainstorms we'd done, and no idea that was thought up in them went anywhere. They came about by individuals on their own. The sprint is meant to let those ideas flourish.

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