Deciding on ideas

Deciding on ideas

Recipe step number
Day 3, Activity 1
Identify the best ideas to test with customers
Reading Time
8 mins

Recipe: Design Sprint (Day-3)

  1. Deciding on ideas
  2. Rumble (optional)
  3. User Test Flow
  4. Storyboard

Materials needed: - Mural (digital whiteboard) - Microsoft Teams (or other video conference tool)

More resources - links etc go here


Why do this? It gives the team of experts a voice in selecting ideas to prototype and test. Everyone has a chance to make a proposal and at least understands the rationale of which to proceed with – keeping shared momentum.

Here's a video from Relab Studios that shows the key steps of "deciding on ideas".

Key Tips

Key tips from the Sprint book (pages 127-142)
  • In the Heat-Map emphasize that participants can use unlimited voting dots so that the "heat" builds up on the most interesting details. (this is the only activity where participants don't need to be sparing with their votes - so it helps to point out the difference)
  • During the Speed-critique be sure to keep anonymity (even if you know who sketched which concept)
Key tips from Advance Concepts™
  • Before the 4-part sketches are put into the “Gallery” we like to take a few mins individually with each artist and think aloud to them – our interpretation of their sketch. This quick “playback” gives them one last chance to make revisions that help the sketch speak for itself effectively. This is very important, and can have a huge impact on the outcome.
  • When the facilitator reads each idea aloud, closing each sketch with the question “did anyone interpret this differently?” Allows the artist to anonymously speak up 😉
  • We like to give the Decider a break before making the super-vote, to think and make a considered decision.
  • We also often summarize each of the Deciders votes and write a visible title/statement to remind the team of the intent behind the decision.

How to do this activity

Allow 2.5 hours

Here's what it looks like in action:


The steps

[30 mins] Finish concept sketches (optional)
  • Participants can use the time to:
    • Read over their sketch with a fresh mind
    • Redo drawings to make sure they're readable
    • Add extra annotations to help make their ideas really obvious and clear
    • They can reach out to the facilitation team for a 5 minute "playback" to get feedback on the clarity of their sketch
[25 mins] Heat Map Vote (incl. Gallery walkthrough)
The "Gallery" (with Heat Map dots) from a real Design Sprint.
Also notice that the Long-Term Goal and Killer Questions close by for easy reference.
The "Gallery" (with Heat Map dots) from a real Design Sprint. Also notice that the Long-Term Goal and Killer Questions close by for easy reference.
  • Explain the exercise "This is different kind of voting. You have unlimited dots! You don't need to be cautious before you place your dots. Use as many as you can!"
  • [10-15 mins] Participants place dots on the sketches
    • They have unlimited dots to place on the smaller parts of each concept that really stand out
    • Remind them of the Killer Questions that we are aiming to solve, and to keep them in mind as they place their dots.
    • When the timer is half-way observe the amount of "heat" dots. If there are not enough clear clusters of heat forming, encourage the participants to use more dots, e.g.: "I see dots going on the concepts, but we still don't have enough clear clusters of 'heat'. The heat help us bring attention to the ideas that are the most interesting to you all. So go back over again and add more dots to the ideas you want to highlight to the group. Even on your own sketch!"
    • Before the timer runs out ask the group if anyone has not yet reviewed every sketch. You can add some minutes to the timer if needed.
  • Questions about clarity
    • If any participant has trouble understanding how an idea works they can use a different colored sticky to post a silent question under the sketch
      • Make it clear that these questions should not be "critiques", but rather to highlight anything that is unclear and therefore hard to vote on.
      • These questions will be addressed later to make sure the whole group understands how each idea works.
[10 mins] Straw Poll Vote
Straw Poll is the name of a poll used in congress, where the number of votes don't actually decide the winner, but they help to show which way the group is thinking. (based on releasing straw to see which way the wind is blowing) The Straw Poll votes give the Decider a little extra information and makes the final decision easier.
An example of Straw Poll votes (blue dots) with the team's notes included (blue stickies)
An example of Straw Poll votes (blue dots) with the team's notes included (blue stickies)
Remind people of the key points that we're focusing on.
  • The small, important phrases from the Killer Questions
  • e.g. things like "meaningful engagement", "practical support", "stronger interaction" ...
  • [5 mins] Decide privately (without sharing yet)
    • Participants look over the concepts again
    • Each person (not the Decider yet) must decide which concept they would choose if they had to "place a bet" They can choose an entire sketch, OR a smaller part inside one of the sketches
    • BEFORE voting publicly they write down their choice on paper and keep it secret for now: (Why? To get a firm commitment, and to help them prepare a clear rationale for the next step)
      • The name/title of their chosen sketch
      • And the reason/s why they chose it (try to reference the Killer Questions)
  • [2 mins] Place dots
    • Reveal special large voting dots (1 for each person - not the Decider yet)
    • Do synchronised voting (everyone places their dots at the same time to avoid any last-minute influence) (You can even do a cheesy count-down if you like 😜)
[20-30 mins] Speed critique
Remind the group that no-one should reveal which Concept is theirs. e.g.:

"We still want to keep the Concepts anonymous. So after I present each Concept, if you want to explain something that might have been missed or misunderstood, you should say "I thought the idea actually works like this ...", rather than saying "I drew this Concept and this is how it works ..."

[2 mins each] Facilitator presents each Concept
  1. Say the title of the concept
  2. Say what it's generally about (e.g. "A platform to share and track tasks" or "A new way for people to meet in groups and support each other")
  3. Focus on the parts that have the most red dots (heat) Explain the ideas in the sketch as best you can. Leave out any parts that have no dots, it means that those ideas aren't interesting to the whole group, so we shouldn't spend time on them.
[2 mins each] Confirm shared understanding & answer questions
  • After each 2 min presentation the facilitator can use this sentence (to cover if something was misinterpreted):
  • "Did anyone put their dots on the ideas in this sketch for a different reason than what I just presented?" (i.e. did I misinterpret it?)

  • Address the question stickies (if there are any)
    1. Check that it's not a critique. If it's a critique or contradiction then it's not really useful. We are trying to make sure we understand the ideas before we make a final decision, not knock them down or find reasons why they might not work.
    2. Try to answer it (if you can), by saying: "I think I might be able to answer this, I think the sketch is saying that it works like ..."
    3. Then use a sentence like this: "Does anyone think there's a different answer? I might have misunderstood it." Remind the group that the artist should still not reveal themselves!
[10 mins] Decider Super Vote
  • The Decider makes the final choice The Straw Poll votes (and the Heat Map) are now visual aids that give them information about the group's opinions and help them choose
  • They can (and should) consult with the team before making a final choice. They can:
    • Ask questions to gain clarity about the group's opinions,
    • share their own thoughts,
    • ...and ask for feedback before making a final decision
    • They do not have to gain group consensus or make the "popular" decision
  • They have 1 extra large Decider Dot to place on the main idea that will be tested
    • (optional) If needed, they can use 1-2 smaller dots to add pieces from other sketches that can be included in the main idea (never use more than 2 extra dots - the concept will become too convoluted)