What makes a good Design Sprint Challenge?

So you’ve heard about Design Sprints and want to get involved but you’re not sure whether the problem or challenge you have is quite right?

Fear not, you’ve come to the right place. We get asked this question all the time and in a bid to help dispel some of those fears you might be having, we thought it might be useful to capture the top 3 questions we use to help us identify whether the problem or challenge you have is fit for a Sprint.


Let’s jump straight in.

Question 1 - Understanding the value of a Design Sprint

What would the financial impact be if you jumped straight into creating solutions and bypassed a Design Sprint?

Don’t be a fool, sucker!


A great place to start, is to make sure you’ve contextualised the problem or challenge you are trying to solve. Check out our post on Problem Framing for more information on this. Once that has been done, you will then need to make sure you can justify the business need.


Ask yourself, why is this important, what is the need, why is this important to the business?


In many cases, if you’ve identified the importance of solving the problem, the next thing to think about is the costs involved.


If your problem or challenge has the potential to cost your organisation a lot of money to build or in Mr T’s case, a whole lotta gold chains, then a Design Sprint could be a great way to mitigate that risk and validate your ideas with real users in a short amount of time, whilst gaining valuable insight during the process.


The other advantage of this is that you’ll also quickly discover if you need to shift and pivot your initial idea onto something else and save yourself thousands if not millions in the process.


Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Question 2 - The power of collaboration, gathering your A-Team


Do you understand who your customers are and does your problem or challenge require different experts across the organisation to help solve it?

The importance of understanding your customers is paramount. You need to be able to easily identify that the challenge you are looking to take into the Sprint is the right one to solve.


What do your customers want? What are their needs? Where are their pain  points?


Having answers to these and knowing that they align with your problem or challenge is key.


To be successful, Design Sprints also require a certain level of commitment, so it’s no surprise then that they are most effective when the problem or challenge at hand is important enough to benefit from the perspective of different members of your organisation to help solve it.


When the problem needs a cross-functional team to solve it, you know that you’re investing in something big and meaningful. 

Question 3 - The importance of team alignment


Do you have stakeholder buy-in?

Gaining stakeholder buy-in isn’t always easy but that is why a Design Sprint works so well. You might not always have their full attention at the beginning but believe me, by the end of it, they will definitely be onboard.


I’m sure you’ve probably heard things like, “Do we really need to change the way we currently work to solve this problem?” and, “Why can’t we do it the way we’ve always done it?”


Well, the answer is simple.


When you do things the way you’ve always done them, you end up with the same results.


One of the best things about a Design Sprint is the ability to bring together a cross-functional team and get them to work in a truly collaborative environment, helping solve some of the biggest challenges your organisation is facing.


Although time is our most valuable asset and asking for the commitment of key stakeholders isn’t easy, the value that you gain as a result is priceless.


A Design Sprint can help teams to build deep working relationships in a way that endless meetings never will. And as C-level executives often tell us, they like them for one simple reason: decisions get made.

What are the different types of challenges Pack gets asked to solve?

We get asked to help solve all kinds of different challenges here at Pack so it would be difficult to list all of them. Instead, I’ve collected together a small selection for you so you can at least see what they typically look like.


Good Design Sprint Challenges


  • An existing app, website or platform looking to improve their user engagement or retention.


  • A Product Manager trying to unlock a bigger budget for their project but in order to do that, they first need to validate the problem and prove to their stakeholders it’s worth the investment.


  • A startup looking to gain further investment but first needing to create a prototype that has been validated with real users.


  • A company is in flux, struggling to align on a topic or looking to move in a different direction. They want to create a new product or suite of products but can’t make a decision to help them move forward. A Design Sprint helps you to connect the dots, remove the uncertainty and come away with something tangible.


  • A company has a big idea they would like to execute but the cost is potentially in the millions. They need to quickly road test this idea with a real audience to gain valuable insights and firm up the direction they are wanting to go in.


Bad Design Sprint Challenges


  • You want to redesign a menu system (too small)


  • Customers aren’t clicking on the buy-it-now button, and money is being lost because of it (too Small)


  • Create a whole new application which needs to be tested in full. (too broad)


In most of the cases in the first list, the problem or challenge highlighted would be perfect for a Design Sprint.


If we feel like it’s perhaps too small of a challenge or too broad even, we would normally suggest that the client looks into hiring a UX Designer to help fix their problem or alternatively run a Problem Framing workshop to try and narrow down what the core opportunity is for the business if it’s too broad.


Find out more about Problem Framing workshops in our post about the subject here.


Alternatively if you’re looking for some other great techniques you can try yourself, sign up to our monthly newsletter and receive regular knowledge bombs right into your mailbox.


Hopefully this has helped in your decision-making process as to whether a Design Sprint is right for your organisation.


Just remember if you ever find yourself unsure, think about what Mr T would say and Don’t be a fool, sucker!


  1. Have we defined the problem or challenge well enough to start coming up with solutions for it?
  2. Is there a real business need, what financial risk is associated with the project by not doing a Design Sprint?
  3. Do we understand our customers needs well enough and do we have the buy-in from the wider team/ stakeholders to drive things forward?