My wife and I are working on a new ministry, and I'm excited. The problem? I work as a church planter, and I also have a part-time role training church planters. It seems impossible to make progress on an ambitious new project without much time.
That's why I was intrigued to discover Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. It's a book written by three partners at Google Ventures, and it presents a five-day process to take a project from idea to feedback in just a week.
The format of the week is simple. On Monday, participants work on understanding the problem, and choosing a target for the sprint. On Tuesday, they focus on solutions. On Wednesday, they take possible solutions and create a plan for the prototype. On Thursday, they create the prototype. On Friday, they test the prototype with customers.
Sprint outlines the process in detail. It gives detailed lists of what you will need, timelines, and the exact process to follow. It allows you to focus on the solution, rather than on the process.
A sprint works differently than you might expect. The book argues that group brainstorming is broken, and instead encourages working independently and then sharing the results. It argues against abstract debate and endless meetings, and instead uses voting and someone (a Decider) to make crisp decisions. It uses a "prototype mindset" to create a façade rather than a perfect solution.
A sprint can even help teams create new habits:
After your first sprint, you might notice a shift in the way your team works. You'll look for ways to turn discussions into test hypotheses. You'll look for ways to answer big questions, not someday, but this week. You'll build confidence in one another's expertise and in your collective ability to make progress toward ambitious goals.
We ran a sprint last week, and found the process to be just as described. We made more progress in a week than we would have made in three months. And it was a lot more fun.
Sprints are great for start-ups. I can also see churches using them to launch ministries, tackle problems, or even plan sermon series. Individuals can also adapt the process for personal use.
If you're stuck for time, and want to make rapid progress on a big problem, then consider running a sprint. The Sprint book and website will give you the process. You supply the rest.