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How to Run a Design Sprint in Thailand [+ complete checklist]

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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Design Sprints here, design sprints there, design sprints everywhere. You have heard about them all over the tech scene and now you are wondering how to run an actual design sprint here in Thailand.

To run a Design Sprint in Thailand I recommend:

  • Mixed teams of designers, customer service/sales/marketing and decision-makers
  • Best to run at your own office in a well-lit, easy-access room you can take over for 5 days
  • 5-Day Sprint – Monday: Map, Tuesday: Sketch, Wednesday: Decide, Thursday: Prototype, and Friday for testing and eating celebratory pizza
  • Prepare for your sprint by finding the experts to interview, customers, to test with and data you will need to call on if needed
  • Prepare 1 whiteboard marker per person, square and 3 by 5 post-it notes, voting dot stickers, tape, paper (white and graph paper for lo-fi sketching), large whiteboard (wall if possible), lunch, and (non-sugary) snacks
  • Record the session if you can with a camera and take lots of photos of the wall (in case it gets removed). Also have someone jotting down ideas, discoveries, and breakthroughs.
  • Do a retro with the team and as a company to share your findings and experience!

First of all, what is the definition of a Design Sprint?

A Design Sprint is a collection of activities teams use to improve digital products and services.

Each activity is designed to highlight and explore a single part of the problem from a particular angle. By focusing on one part of the problem discovery, ideation or solution we are able to make step-by-step progress and “fail forward”.

For example, one activity is creating a rough prototype that focuses on usability and not making it beautiful.

The focus here is the solution the user needs and not winning a design award.

There are many different versions of Design Sprints but they tend to use the same tools and progression of activities.

For example, Google’s original version is over 5 days:

  • Monday – planning the sprint, going over the pre-research, and asking the experts
  • Tuesday – framing the problem and understanding the target audience
  • Wednesday – is all about deciding the best solution to prototype
  • Thursday – grab your laptop or pen, paper, and scissors, and prototype all-day
  • Friday – test and interview customers

Can you see how they tackle specific parts of a project each day? In my opinion, this is the beauty of Design Sprints; they split things up so you can focus and there is a real feeling of progression.

But what type of projects are best suited to DS’s?

What are the best types of projects to use in a Design Sprint?

Projects with a small scope, a clear idea and access to customers, and a real-life problem that can be explored and potentially solved during the 5 days.

Here are some examples of good Sprint Projects:

  • DigiLocker, a secure platform where anyone can fetch and store digital, legally valid versions of all their official documents
  • Unified Bank and Marketplace – H+H worked to unify two separate products under one unified roof. You can read all about it here in our own case study.
  • British Museum – improving wayfinding at the Museum by allowing users to pre-plan their trip.
  • Feedly – redesign of their homepage. Feedly is a fantastic service that I use personally. “an intelligent insight platform that lets users keep up with the topics and trends that matter to them”
  • Making City Government Easier Than a Starbucks – The Office of the City Clerk for the City of Chicago is on a mission to make it easier for residents to obtain vehicle registration stickers.
  • H+H also worked with ChangeWorks to put together a Design Thinking Workshop that touched on how to use Design Sprints to monitor, report and deal with defects during the Jewellery making process.

Let’s look at some of the good, bad and ugly challenges that can arise from choosing the project to work on:

GoodBadUgly
The project has a clear target audienceThe team does not know the target audience and there has been no researchOnly managers are present and there are no “on the ground” team members
The team members have experience with the customersThere are no decision-makers on the team. This makes it hard to move through each step with confidenceThe stakeholders are expecting the answer to 100% work in this first sprint
The problem is clear and easily communicatedTeam members are using their phones for personal or even work reasons during the sprint.Team members are forced to do the sprint when they are very busy or distracted
The scope can be covered within the 5 daysSolving a problem that people do not care about enough. If it is too niche and specific it will be hard to ideate and test upon.Solving the wrong problem. This is often because higher management as too much sway in what you work on. Trust in the team to discover the problem.
Prototyping can be done using Figma or simple things like paper and pens.  
If possible, a real-life problem that impacts people’s lives as this will give you stronger results when testing.  

Highly recommend you check out https://sprintstories.com/ for lots of ideas about what 150+ sprints can teach you.

How long does a Design Sprint in Thailand Take?

https://www.durran.co/blog/revolutionizing-the-public-school-system-a-design-sprint-case-study

Week 1 is Pre-sprint, week 2 is sprint, week 3 is execution
Positioning-Statement

The outcome of the first week

  • A clear understanding of the context and challenges they are facing.
  • Overview of the existing strong points – the sales team, connections with the educational system, experience in the fields, etc
  • Clearly defined user persona, with empathy map and customer journey map.
  • A clear understanding of the aspects that should be improved – adding new features, finding new strategic partnerships, improving the platform’s overall experience, etc.
  • A clear understanding of the biggest understanding of their users at the moment regarding the platform – in our case, the onboarding process.

Who should attend a design sprint?

cost analysis
Image ref: Apirak Panatkool from UX Academy and UX Coach at ODDS

7 people or less from different hierarchies and who have different experiences around the problem you are trying to solve. You will need 1 experienced DS facilitator and then internal team members to do follow-ups and help make sure the days run smoothly.

In summary, we recommend:

  • 1 design sprint facilitator
  • 7 team members to be on the sprint
  • 1 “expert” who has experience with the product/service and can give you insights
  • 2 staff to do follow-up (e.g. emails, files, correspondences)
  • 1 person to help with the “event” management e.g. lunches, finding missing stationary etc

For the best results we recommend:

  • 1 product or service owner aka decision maker. This person will need be needed during the sprints but a key player in making sure each day is completed.
  • 3-5 real customers for the testing phase. This user testing can be done remotely but always best in-person
  • 1 designer who can quickly mock things up
  • 1 barman to constantly make cocktails because everything is better with a cocktail (joke)

For running DS’s in Thailand here are some recommendations for team member setups:

Standard GroupLarger OrganizationsManagement groups
2 sales reps1 salesDon’t
1 customer service1 marketingDo
1 marketing rep3 designers or developersJust
2 product designers or developers1 product ownerManagers
1 team lead1 design or development leadsEver
[ TIP: Only invite who you need and that has insights into helping the group move forward. Remember when your teams are in a DS they are not working which means it's a cost to you as a business also. ]

Being aware of Thai Culture

Here is where things are interesting and unique to Thailand: Greng Jai (เกรงใจ) or “awe of heart”. The culture translations is something similar to “I don’t want to impose” with a sprinkle of “respect for your elders”.

Greng Jai plays a huge factor in more traditional organizations and less and less here in the tech sector but it is still a cultural norm here in Thailand. For example, you may find that some of the team not speaking their mind when there is a senior manager present as well as if the hierarchy was more flat.

Should we only run sprints with teams of the same hierarchy here in Thailand?

The short answer is absolutely not!

As facilitator, it is your job to help everyone contribute the best they can. To help the Greng Jai situation simply talk with the team members individually during some of the exercises and elicit their ideas.

[ TIP: You will also find that DS are geared to help those who are more introvert or " Greng Jai" contribute by putting their ideas onto post-it's and voting is also down to voting tabs and not hands in the air. ]

Best places to run a design sprint in Bangkok

There are three main choices to run a design sprint in Bangkok:

  • Your own office (best option) – find a secluded space where you can keep all the post-its and flipcharts safe for the week. Three main benefits of using your office are reduced cost, access to people and resources, and it’s inspiring to see sprints happening to the rest of the team.
  • Co-working spaces – for example here in Bangkok you have:
    • Just co – @AIA Sathorn Tower – where meeting rooms big enough to run a sprint will cost you around 1,300 baht per hour.
    • Glowfish – @Sathorn Thani 2 – where you are looking at around 4,000 baht for the half day in a room that sounds really cool “Secret Service”.
    • Launchpad – @Sethiwan Tower – one of our favourite places as it’s the home of BKK Meetup also and for a medium meeting room it’s 700 baht per hour and large meeting room 1,400 baht so definitely cheaper than the others.
    • There are many many more and can you can check this comprehensive article by BKK Magazine for more ideas.
  • At a training center like Web Courses Bangkok @lumpini – they offer a package for Design Sprints at 20,000 baht for 4 full days which includes lunch.
  • Hotels – to be honest, you can, but I would not recommend it. They tend to be geared towards bigger events and end up being more expensive for meals and they don’t have the “tech” feel that is conducive to a good sprint.
[ TIP: Wherever you choose to call "home" for the duration of your design sprint must have plenty of light. You will be working hard and you need to feel energised so have some music playing, keep it fresh and cool and filled with refreshments. ]

How long does a design sprint take?

Design Sprints generally take 5 days to run with 2-3 days of pre-preparation and then 2 days of follow-up. From start to end you are looking at around 2 weeks.

So let’s break that down into a timeline:

  1. Preparation 2-3 days – here you find the teams, the room, order lunches, get the materials together, and wifi passwords. Most importantly you will start to look for the experts and customers you will interview.
  2. 5-Day Sprint – Monday: Map, Tuesday: Sketch, Wednesday: Decide, Thursday: Prototype, and Friday for testing and eating celebratory pizza.
  3. 2-3 follow-up and reporting – this may extend depending on the size of the project scope but generally it can be done within a week.
  4. Optional extra – we highly recommend you do an internal and public retro i.e talking about what went well, what you learned, and what you would change about the sprint. Then do the same to your company during a town hall/event so you can share the findings and experience.
[ TIP: If you want to reduce the time it takes to do follow up make sure you document the sprint during the days, don't try to remember things after they happen. Document as much as you can and record IF you can.]

Tips on running a successful design sprint in Thailand

  • Give the sprint team time to review the process and ask them to bring as much data as they can in case they want to reference it.
  • Try to solve the problems with the least amount of features. Explain that you focus on features that are high-impact low effort. Remind teams this is a sprint and there is still a marathon of changes you can make later.
  • Serve lunch in the room if possible, if you go out you can lose a lot of time and motivation. This is a Design Sprint not walking slowly because you’re sleepy 🙂
  • With snacks avoid anything with sugar so the team does not have a sugar crash. Chocolate, candy, and things like Khanom Buang are not a great idea. You can throw in some Khanom Krok but not too sweet! Khao Lahm is quite good but does get your fingers sticky. We had someone bring in Mamuang Klook Prik Glua which went down well once.
  • Pick a well-light, open, and fresh room that is tidy and inspiring. The environment really matters when it comes to hard-working creatives.
  • With the prototype, we recommend using something like Figma as it is easy to collaborate with and simple. If you start to use things like PowerPoint and Keynote they tend to limit what you can do and how you can collaborate.
  • When you do a prototype, keep things quick and light. Do not start trying to win a design award in a sprint. It’s not quite quick and dirty but defiantly quick and slightly soiled 🙂
  • With Thai culture be aware of who you invite and seniority. If bosses are two “high up” they will overshadow the group and you will lose the benefit of openly shared opinions.
  • Keep things on time, work with the structure closely and keep things moving. Don’t be afraid to add time but make it clear to the team they need to hit the deadlines. Give prompts of when the timing is coming to 10 mins, 5mins, and 1 minute before.

Summary

We hope that this guide helps you and your teams discover more solutions to tomorrow’s challenges. If you want to ask any questions you can reach me us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

If you want H&H Works – Shaping better digital products and teams. to come to your company and run an amazing design sprint then please check out our service page here. We look forward to working with you.

hhworks on a laptop

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