Designing better teams by understanding the common pitfalls

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

Ask anyone that manages a team or department, and the area that they spend most of their time on and worry the most about is their people.

I’m becoming ever interested in the design of teams. Whilst I’ve discovered a better way of working in the Design Sprint, the design of a team is a necessary area of understanding. I mean, you can’t have a great way of working with a team that can’t work together.

To build a great team, we need to understand the common issues that people have at work. It’s not all smooth-sailing and there are…


A workshop earlier this year

Ross Chapman’s highlights for the year ahead

As the start of the new decade approaches, all of us at Etch are eager for what lies ahead, including Etch Sprints. After over a year of running Sprints and training partners to run their own, we are making some changes to Etch Sprints to further challenge the status quo and offer businesses even more value. Here’s a summary of what’s coming up…

1. Prototyping a team

After nearly a year of going it alone (or lone-wolfing it 🐺 as it’s become known), we’ve now created an Etch Sprints team. …


Using the Design Sprint, how could we support parents to build their children’s language and communication skills?

The Sprint Team

This is a story about a GV style design sprint. If you’ve never heard of that, you can learn more here or read the book.

Silver foil. Glue. Cotton wool.

These were just a few of the tools needed in our prototyping day, but before we get into that, how did this design sprint start and what problem were we here to solve?

Start with problems

The Innovation Team at Save the Children UK partnered with Children’s Places in Scotland to boost early language development for children growing up in deprived areas. Through Children’s Places work with nurseries, they highlighted a consistent challenge…


The lesser-known final day of the Design Sprint (where dreams become reality!)

“The Design Sprint is great, but…”

One of the most common issues I hear time and time again comes from teams after the Design Sprint.

Teams will say something similar to:

“The Design Sprint is great, but we don’t have everything we need to continue the good work and put into production”

The thing is, the problem isn’t really with the Design Sprint. It’s with the time after the Sprint that teams can often lose momentum and lose direction.

In a recent Design Sprint, we aimed to solve that problem with what I’m calling Handover Day.

We had a couple of tech leads help us understand…


5 women who are taking the Design Sprint and totally owning it

At a recent Design Sprint Training workshop at Etch Sprints

It’s International Women’s Day and a great time to share some of the Sprint Influencers who I follow everyday.

I did a similar story last year on product designers I follow on Instagram if you want to check that one out 🔥

1. Sabrina Goerlich

Strategic Designer/Design Sprint Master in Affalterbach, Deutschland.

I’ve had a few chats with Sabrina. She’s always one to take on a new challenge, not only in work, but also in play. Always sharing what she’s learning and including as many people as possible.

Sabrina Goerlich — Queen 👸

Follow her Design Sprint content on Design Sprint Studio and…


5 cloud-based apps to use with your team (with business cases)

cA real team creating a Figma prototype in 1 day to be user tested the next.

TL;DR I’m a product designer and I’ve worked in and with many companies using many different tools. Some ruled. Some sucked. I’m sharing this to help you get your team on THE hot tools right now.

I was product-side for a number of years. If you are too, or in any controlled business, you’ll know that you often have to make a good case for using a new tool.

So to help, I’ve put together a list of potential candidates with a business case next to each. …


How to get started running remote design sprints with a distributed team

Some of the best work I’ve ever done has been with a remote team. In 2013, I worked with a back-end developer in Barcelona to create a fully working minimum viable product in just a couple of weeks. I did the design and the front-end and he would tie everything up in the backend.

It was perfect because we were both skilled at what we did and if anything, being distant location-wise helped us concentrate while in comfortable surroundings.

Fast forward to 2019, and I’m now a product designer running design sprints at Etch Sprints. I also train others to…


Setting up for a workshop earlier this year

Ross Chapman’s highlights for the year ahead

As 2018 comes to a close, I wanted to give you a glimpse as to what Etch Sprints has got planned for next year. With three months behind us and many more in the making, 2019 is a key year in our journey and I wanted to share what that may look like looking forward.

1. Establishing in London


Have an idea for a project? Start with a structured way of working.

A recent Lightning Decision Jam we did at Barclays

Realise your business has a problem

Picture the scene: an idea for a project comes up. Something exciting that should help meet some of the objectives your business has.

You’ve raised the business opportunity case for it explaining what it is you want to do, how long it will take and how much money it will cost.

However, when it comes to briefing teams in to what needs to be done, things start to fall apart. Briefs are seemingly bespoke to each project, contain very little about what the business needs to achieve and how they can measure the success of it.


The art of moving from innovation to delivery

I’ve covered what happens after the Design Sprint in a previous post, but that’s really for design iteration, rather than production. What people have been asking is “what does production look like?”

Let’s start with the outcomes of a Design Sprint:

  • A human-tested prototype
  • User test evidence
  • Decisions made
  • A product backlog

These are often not enough to give the production team what they need on Day 1. At Etch, we often follow the Design Sprint with an Iteration Sprint. The outputs of that include:

  • Component additions or a new component guide
  • More documentation around the prototype
  • Further time to…

Ross Chapman

Remote Design Sprint Facilitator and Product Strategist based in the UK

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