Pipe cleaners, brown paper and ideas galore: The design sprint

Design sprints have, in one way shape or form, existed for as long as people have been designing. However, ever since Google Ventures design partner Jake Knapp began running design sprints with teams from Chrome, Google Search and Google X in 2010, and later at Google Ventures itself, the term and method has became increasingly common.

With our Master's candidates now knee-deep in their personal projects, this week we dusted off pipe cleaners, brown paper and post-it notes, and, joined by experts from an array of backgrounds, launched into our own design sprint.

Pipe cleaners and pairing up

Milla Inkila, Postgraduate Director at The Mind Lab by Unitec, kicked-off the week with a session on design thinking. The candidates paired up and tackled the challenge of articulating their idea and then turning this into a physical prototype.

We had robots made out of polystyrene; sandcastle bucket fire extinguishers; and mountain ranges fashioned out of egg cartons, crepe paper and plastic trees.

Mapping the customer journey

Fee McLeod, General Manager at The Mind Lab by Unitec shared the power of brown paper and post-it notes in her session on the customer journey.

The group took to walls and desks and looked at the different stages of the customer journey – from identifying who your audience is, to how to recognise opportunities, to how to spread your brand and message.

Kids' games and bringing ideas to life

The best products and services find the sweet spot between design and user experience, and this is Fredrik Bergström’s area of expertise.

As the Managing Director at Osynlig New Zealand, Fredrik creates solutions for digital platforms, with a keen focus on simplicity and usability. He took the group through different phases of creating an app, including sketching an idea, building a prototype out of paper and explaining how this would be used.

Lorraine Guerin and Terry Williams-Willcock from Saatchi & Saatchi NZ shared how they built an app - from start to finish. The app in question? Debt Empire. The result? Kids learning about debt and finances without even realising it.

Why should you care?

Miriam Walker, Director of User Experience and Strategy at Digital Arts, capped off our week with a session on generative design, which brought together different components from the other sessions and got the candidates thinking about their idea from a new perspective.

The session encouraged the group to take a step back and think about the wider audience and deeper implications of their project, asking some hard hitting questions such as “Why do you care?” and “What wider problems will your project solve?”

An insider’s guide to starting a business

This week we were also joined by some very interesting individuals who shared their perspective on what makes a good idea, how to get a business off the ground, the current New Zealand innovative landscape, and everything in between.

Sarah Rennie and Senthil Perumal from YouthHub talked about their experience of launching the platform that’s been described as ‘LinkedIn for youth – but better’, while Tod Crosby and Jeremy Davis shared their idea and product known as the 'Quiet-Revolution'.

Coming from the ‘insights agency’ TRA, Antonia Mann and Gar Yin Wong shared their ideas on how human behavior factors into businesses.

Andy Blackburn with Fiona Millar talked about Innovation Council, the different projects the social enterprise has underway, and some very cool examples of innovation in NZ (including a potential cure for cancer developed in our very own backyard).

We were also lucky enough to have John Holt come in - a serial entrepreneur who started his first company at age eight, and more recently launched Homes.

Get in touch

Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with what's happening during the week. If you want to know more about our Master's Programme, come along to an Open Lab session this April or May, or get in touch with the team.


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Tech Futures Lab is an education facility of The Mind Lab, a NZQA registered Tertiary Education Organisation under the provisions of the Education Act 1989. Candidates who are studying on a programme delivered by Tech Futures Lab are enrolled with The Mind Lab.

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