Delivering At Speed: The Art Of The Sprint

The sprint is an organized forum that brings these requirements together for five dedicated days, in order to strategically resolve a business problem, or harness a market opportunity and turn an idea into value.

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The pace of business today is faster than ever before. For marketers, this is especially true in today's idea economy, because through ever-evolving digital and media channels, ideas and content are on a constant and rapid exchange, and consumers are exposed to more messages and consuming more advertising than ever before.


As Meg Whitman, former Chief Executive Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, put it: "We're now living in an idea economy, where success is defined by the ability to turn ideas into value faster than your competition." Delivering content, ideas, and campaigns to market at pace and in a relevant and strategic way is increasing pressure and challenge for marketers across all industries.

Related: Creating Content That Resonates With Your Audience

So, how do we keep up with the speed of business? How do we not just join the idea economy, but lead the conversation with new ideas and greater value? Speed to market requires dedication, the right cohort of talent, and the drive to make ideas real. The sprint is an organized forum that brings these requirements together for five dedicated days, in order to strategically resolve a business problem, or harness a market opportunity and turn an idea into value.

A sprint is successful because of the principles that make it so:

1. Knowing your goal is essential to achieving it.

What is the business problem or opportunity to be addressed? Why is it important, and what is the desired outcome or business goal? Defining the objective is critical to governing the focus of the sprint, and therefore, the potency of ideas.

2. All perspectives are welcome. And required.

To achieve the most multi-faceted ideas, this requires multiple perspectives. The sprinters should be a diversely expert cohort and include agency (creative, strategy, and sprint facilitators) and client collaborators, from marketers to experts in the product lifecycle (R&D, consumer insights) or sales cycle (buyers, sellers). While the expertise is broad, the number of sprinters should be concentrated and selective, to ensure dedication and consistency within the sprint.

3. Broadening the context broadens the availability of solutions.

The sprint begins with a holistic immersion of the opportunity or problem landscape. This deepens the sprint team's understanding of the situation and environment, while also considering the broader context for how that problem can be solved. The immersion enables more dynamic collaboration throughout the sprint, empowering each sprinter with a robust understanding of the context beyond their specific expertise. This immersion delves into the customer, culture, competition, company, and leverages those experts participating in the sprint to speak to each aspect of the context.

4. Collaboration requires shared ownership.

Within the sprint forum, all sprinters are strategists, creatives, and solvers. While the sprint is facilitated by agency leads, the sprinters have a shared ownership of the process, development, and outcome.

5. A concrete idea is an idea that can be executed.

How will consumers or customers experience this idea? What changes to the product or marketing would the idea require? Throughout the sprint, all ideas must be made tangible. In order to do this, the sprint team must not only deliver ideas, but also low-fidelity prototypes of those ideas. This hustle to prototype means that the idea is developed through to execution planning, and keeps feasibility in check.

6. Test (and learn) with real-time consumer feedback.

The tech industry has proven that testing and learning enables speed to market. But how do we take this principle to other industries? By bringing our consumers or buyers into our ideation process, real-time feedback enables a feedback loop that allows for optimization and relevancy of the final idea. Throughout the sprint, consumers join parts of the discussion to feedback on the low-fi prototype ideas, and to guide the iterative development of each ideas throughout the week.

The time to hustle is now. It's a fast world, and we'll only keep up if we sprint together.

Related: Design Thinking Is Not A Process, It's A Mindset