Interview with Steph Cruchon

January 19, 2021

The following is a transcript of my interview with Steph Cruchon on the Growing Design podcast.

In this episode, Steph Cruchon chats with us about the history of design sprints, their value, and why they work.

Steph is the founder of Design Sprint Ltd., the first company in the world to offer design sprints commercially. He had an important role in the rate of adoption of the methodology in Europe and around the world. He's organized several events around design sprints and has personally run over 120 sprints since 2015.

Steph's Linkedin -
https://www.linkedin.com/in/steph-cruchon/

Design Sprint Ltd's website -
https://design-sprint.com/

iToday Conference -
https://itoday.ch/

iToday Monthly Apéros -
https://itoday.ch/itoday-aperos/

Ed Orozco (00:42):

Welcome to another episode of growing design today, we have Steph Cruchon with us, and he's going to be talking about design sprints and the value of design sprints, and how to sell the value of design, sprints and workshops in general as a design consultant or design agency.Steph, can you introduce yourself a little bit for the audience?


Steph Cruchon (01:05):

Well, thank you so much for having me too Ed. So I'm Steph. I'm a designer based in Switzerland and yeah, I've been doing design sprints for the last five years.And the founder and CEO of a company called design sprint LTD. So highly focused on design sprints. And before thatI was the more classic UXer. So I've been in UX for the last 15 years working on very big products and websites for the last 15 years.


Ed Orozco (01:35):

Yeah. You guys were the first, correct me if I'm wrong, but you guys were the first company in Europe to offer design sprints as a service, right?


Steph Cruchon (01:43):

Yeah, yeah. In Europe, for sure. Maybe even in the world, because back then it was mostly done at Google Ventures. And I think I've been lucky enough to be one of the very first to offer it as a service for companies.


Ed Orozco (02:01):

And also you sort of started, I don't know, this is just sort of what I, what I understand you, you started doing it even before the book came out.


Steph Cruchon (02:10):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it's such a long story. So we are in 2000 21 now. Well and I started running design sprints in 2015, but something that people don't get about the sprints, they think that it's a new concept or it's a new thing. It's not, the first design sprints that were run at Google venture 10 years ago, the very, very first ones. But back then it was, you know, it was hidden only. It was kind of a secret methodology that Google Ventures where we're using was created by my good friend, Jake Knapp who was a designer back then at a GV and then, yeah, just wasn't public. And the one was talking about it. And when actually, so I was a designerI was working for a big product like The World Economic Forum. I worked for four banks or so I was designing bank apps back in the year, 2006-2007, and then in 2015, I discovered and wanted to work closer to my clients. That was, the idea because I've been in production, you UXer, I've been in these big companies and they saw how inefficient the things were. And I got that.I got a job that I hated at the time. I'm not going to say for whom but for, for a very big company. Can have it company. They are very well-known in Switzerland and I realized how broken the process was. And I just wanted to work closer to the clients. And at the time I was working with, you know, agile teams that were doing sprints of agile development sprints, and I was a designer and I came up with that name, you know, I should do sprints of design.


Steph Cruchon (03:56):

So it was early 2015 and I just took the domain name, design-sprint.com for myself on my own you know, for my own workshops or my own. And one day, you know, I just write some Google, my own websites, a design sprint. And I just discovered that that thing, you know, it was on the blog of GV, the design sprint, how we do it at Google venture. And I read that it first just blog articles, blog posts at this moment. And I was like, Oh my God. And it was, you know, like it was exactly what they had in mind, just so much more mature and, you know, run at Google with all the startups and that crazy cool guy, Jake was explaining all the recipe. And I was like, this is so cool. So I wrote to that guy, to Jake Knapp, and I ask him, okay, sorry, because I took the name and I didn't know, you guys existed and that you were doing that.


Steph Cruchon (04:53):

But it looks amazing, can I have more info?. And so he gave me information, and him asking, can I do it? Am I allowed to do it? He said, Oh yeah, of courseI'm writing this book post because I want people to do it. And they think it's awesome. And I'm really excited. And he told me, yeah, I'm going to release the book in March, 2016. So I knew in January, 2016 that, you know, I just quit my job. I started my own company. The first sprints, I ran them in 2015, before the book. And yeah, I was the first to launch a service around that. And we became good friends with Jake.


Ed Orozco (05:27):

So if I understand correctly, you came up with the same name they came up with without knowing that they were thinking about releasing the book under the same name.


Steph Cruchon (05:38):

Yes, exactly. Which makes it a lot of sense because when you are into design and you're a designer at some point you work with, with teams that are doing agile and that are doing sprints. So, you know, doing sprints of design made sense to me. And that's how I discovered the methodology super early, basically because no one knew about it. At least maybe in San Francisco or in the, in the tech cycles. I was in tech, but in Europe we are always a bit late. But yeah, that allowed me to discover it really, really early.


Ed Orozco (06:18):

Maybe we can pause for a second and explain a little bit the difference between development, agile sprint and design sprint, because I know it can be misleading, especially for people that are already working in tech and have been working in development. It's not the same thing,


Steph Cruchon (06:36):

No, at all, at all. Actually, I came to the concept through that, but it's totally different. The sprint means that it's a certain amount of time. It's a time-boxed activity basically. So typical agile sprint is more about engineering and development. That is like two weeks and the design sprints. It's typically five days and it will gather you know, designers, business people engineers can also be part of it, but it's way more global. It's more about the whole concept of getting to the right ideas and prototyping things. So it's typically UX. It's not at all engineering.


Ed Orozco (07:19):

Yeah. The way I see it, the design sprint is more about generating ideas and deciding which direction to take. And the development sprint is building that idea and how fast, or how efficiently can we build it.


Steph Cruchon (07:33):

Basically the sprint typically comes through there, the very beginning of the project, or even before the project and when you know what you have to do or to build. You can do agile sprints to actually develop the solution.


Ed Orozco (07:47):

Yeah. I think it's mind blowing the fact that you came up with this so early that even before the book, I don't think people realize that probably a lot of people say like, Oh yeah, this guy is just, he read the book and just started running sprints. No, you're actually taking a very active role in what would end up being the shape of design sprints as we know them today. So I think this that's very cool and I knew that, and I wanted to cover that part because I think is, is very, very interesting for the story of design sprints. I want to ask you, why did you decide to focus on design? I know that you were working on doing some workshops before and you want it to be closer to the idea generation part of the product development cycle, but why did you choose to focus on such a specific niche?


Steph Cruchon (08:40):

Yeah.I mean, that's super interesting.The point is first you need to focus. It's super important. You can't, you know, you can't just do the same as everyone else and you need to kind of specialize yourself if you do UX. I see so many agencies that fall into that trap. They try to do everything. Oh yeah. We work for all types of products and we can do wireframes. We can prototype. Yeah, of course you can do all of that. The problem that you are not specializing yourself, and you're not being very good at what you're doing. And myself, why I studied in tech, something like actively so professionally 15 years ago, and I was also doing some front-end coding. So being very late in the chain, you know, like, like on the food chain, basically when everything is this idea that you are just a guy, who is just building it.


Steph Cruchon (09:33):

So I've done that. And then I've been, you know, coming, you know, closer to the like to the beginning of the project. So I was being a designer and then you exert. So my goal was to have an impact basically, and because, and I'm not saying engineers don't have impact they have tremendous impact, but they will have an impact on the strategy or the decision. Most of the time they are building what was already decided before. And I just saw that the sprint was an amazing opportunity for, for me as a designer to have an impact, but also to act a bit like a guide, because you know, I'm from Switzerland and it's sad to say, but the country is not that technologically-aware, or fast in general about digital transformation and people need a lot of guidance. And I felt at some point that, you know, after all these years of being, you know in the, in the trenches and building all these projects, I have something to add and that can really guide them to that process.


Steph Cruchon (10:30):

So that was the idea. And, and also, it's terrifying to run workshops. If you don't know what you are doing, and you are young, you UXer, yes. [laughs] You're laughing. So it's really scary and what they love with the sprints. And especially when I discovered the book, how well it was. How well the recipe was written in the book and was, so clear to me. I had, you know, kind of a guide. I knew I could follow that and it worked. So yeah, if I'm running a workshop, I want it to work. So that was the point.


Ed Orozco (11:06):

I think a lot of the signers want to have a role, have a say in the way the product is going to look like or work, but they don't want to go and talk to the client and they don't want to take a more active role in the idea conception, or they don't really know how to have those conversations. So they end up just doing whatever comes from, like you said, the top of the food chain you mentioned something that, yes, front-end developers and developers are at the end of the food chain in the product development cycle. However, one of the cool things about the designs sprint is that you have multidisciplinary teams coming in together to work together. Right?


Steph Cruchon (11:46):

Exactly. And I mean, that, that's what they felt it was. So for me, to be honest, I think the design sprint is a total game-changer in the way you approach work in a project. And that's why it works also for non-tech projects. We can run these in sprints for all kinds of problems. Maybe you're going to talk about that later. And what I love is that I've been some kind of developer myself, a really bad one, but I was a developer. AndI know how frustrating it is to have to build something that, you know, is not right. That you know, is not going to work. AndI think that that's just an amazing format, too. It's five days, it's a package, and you can ask engineers, data scientists, or whoever they can be here as part of the conception of the strategy of the product. They can bring everything they know and yeah, you just go faster. And for them, you know, it releases all that frustration. They have a say to the future of the project. And for me, that's a total game changer.


Ed Orozco (12:46):

Yeah. And it's so important, I think, because developers know the technology, ultimately, they're the ones that are building that layer between what's happening in the, in the brain or like the API or the, the application and what the user is experiencing. So I think they're really the last stop before, or like the last layer between the product and the user. Well, maybe the hardware is going to be one step ahead, but, you know, we don't have a lot of control over the hardware as designers and developers. Let's talk a little bit about the value of design sprints. What have you found is the most valuable benefit or the most valuable outcome of running design sprints in your organization?


Steph Cruchon (13:36):

Okay. Now it's five years I run design sprint and I've run probably more than 120 myself with all kinds of companies and I think that's very important to note, so it's not only tech companies or it's not only cool kids, I will say, you know, startups, you knowI've been running design sprints with really very classic corporates or even governments or people, very old stylish in the way they approach things. And that's okay sometimes. [initially] I felt the value was just about speed. Because when you read the book it's like, you're going to accomplish in five days, what will take months or sometimes even years because you bring the right people together in one room, you figure out the problems and then you find solutions, then you prototype them and you test them at the end of the sprint.


Steph Cruchon (14:29):

So it's really packaged and it's great, but I've realized that speed is important, but it's not what matters the most. After five years, I can say it, it's more the empowerment of the teams of the employee, of the fact of building something, conceiving something together, and this, you can bring any employee of the company and that people can have an important role in the strategy of the product. So it's not, you know, top down with the senior manager who has to figure it out. It doesn't depend on one person. For example it's not the designer who needs to find all the solution. No, it's the team and you can really bring everyone in that process. So this for me is really key. It's also a great way to just teach UX to a team. It's like if you don't know what user experience is, Just do a design sprint, and you will see exactly how, how this works, how you come up with ideas, you select the best ideas. You prototype them and you test them at the end of the week, the test at the end of the sprint, it's always that aha moment, you know, that people are like, what? Because the default before that you have to build the product for real, to launch it on the market. Maybe it's going to take one, two years and then you start having answers to the sprint. You start having answers at the end of five days without even having a real product. So yeah, the, yeah, it's that team spirit, that energy that you can create around the project, that's the real value.


Ed Orozco (16:04):

And these are people that usually don't have the opportunity or the space to collaborate because each one, if we choose one person to represent each stage of the development process or the product development process, they're not going to be talking to each other all the time. They're going to talk to each other every once in a while, maybe once a month or twice a month. And they probably talk for about two hours in a meeting where there's like 30 people where nothing is really happening. You know, someone's playing candy crush and they're not really exchanging, which is one of the most for me, one of the most fascinating things about the design sprint is that it is a moderated discussion because humans are really bad to brainstorm. And I think Jake Knapp says this, that brainstorming doesn't work because he's, it's not organized. There's always someone who's very shy. There's always someone who's very loud and the loud person is going to talk over the quiet person. So it's not the best way to make sure the best, all of the best ideas are captured. Whereas with a design sprint, there's no room for, for informal discussion. Everything has a methodology and a process that you follow. That's really great because I think this should be applied not only to design sprints, but the way we communicate in companies and teams how, how we work around solutions, not necessarily, for product development, but for every problem that you have to discuss and brainstorm in a company.


Steph Cruchon (17:42):

I think Jake and the teams are at GVD. They wanted to design a process. That's very fair to everyone. You, it's not the loudest voice in the room that wins. It's not the manager that has the best idea. It's like one part that's very interesting in the design screens is that everyone's going to come up with the concepts individually. So you don't know what others are actually designing or doing, and you discover that and that's anonymous. So you are judging ideas and you don't know who is behind the idea. So maybe it's the senior manager, but maybe it's just a, it could be the intern, for example, who was on that sprint. AndI think this, this is so great because you talk about ideas and not about persons anymore. And that makes it really, really fair. And yeah, I just love that, that way of working.


Steph Cruchon (18:33):

And also I love because I'm a designer and I'm also a consultant because they bring the printing companies, but they don't have the responsibility of finding the ideas myself or telling the teams. You have to do that. Of course, I will bring my opinion if I'm asked, or if, if I have something to say, I'm going to see during the sprint, but at the end of the day, it's the team who chooses. What's the key, what's the concept they're going to save what they're going to prototype. And my role is to guide them. And that I have to admit, I'm an expert at the process of design, but they're not experts in their field. I've worked for cosmetics. For example, for example, I don't know anything about cosmetics myself and even a client, look at that, butI can guide these teams to actually achieve really good work. And they are, they are the experts in the field.


Ed Orozco (19:22):

Yeah, that that's one key thing that I think people tend to forget, which is that the client is an expert in whatever it is that they do because they build a business around whatever it is that they do. Like, let's say cosmetics, but you as a design consultant or as a design firm, your expertise is making things happen, just helping them organize their ideas and make decisions.


Steph Cruchon (19:50):

This is so important. I also think about the ROI or the sprint. There are so many projects that, you know, have gotten further thanks to the sprints. You know, they, they were pushed forward that otherwise would have just been stopped or killed very early on. Because you know, when you, when you innovate in general, it's so easy to have someone seeing our, but sorry, it's not the right time. Or we don't have the budget or it's too hard or I've seen somewhere, someone who does the same and, you know, in these kids, the project very early on, and they think this printed gives a good chance to these innovative projects. The projects are not anymore, just a PowerPoint slide or vague idea. It's a prototype at the end of the week. It's a test and it's way more solid. So you just give the project a better chance to move forward and to become real.


Ed Orozco (20:44):

Yeah. And then you get really high quality data, because if you're just making a very basic prototype and PowerPoint, you're the user that you're testing it with and knows that is just a basic prototype. So that's going to condition the type of feedback that you get. So let's talk about we, we've talked about how, like what's the value of design sprints and why they're so important, not only for product development, but for decision-making because they're very fair. Like you mentioned, it gives everyone an anonymous voice where you're deciding ideas based on ideas and not on rank or person. You guys also have developed a lot of templates to help people run their own sprints in Mural or Miro, if someone from Real-time Board or Miro, or My-ro is listening to this, please send us a message and teach us how to pronounce it. Cause nobody, no one really knows.


Steph Cruchon (21:44):

[Laughs] No one knows, that's true. So I've been in touch with some people in-house in there who say Miro, and they've been in touch with some other people who say my-ro. So even inside the firm, I don't think it's clear.


Ed Orozco (21:56):

I have another one. There's Miro. Cause I thought the name came from the, from the artist. So the painter, so Miró could be the right way of saying it. I don't really know. We want to know, but you also, you did some templates for them. You also did some templates for Mural and for Invision. So can you tell us a little bit about that?


Steph Cruchon (22:19):

Sure, sure. SoI mean the templating really comes from COVID crisis basically.I think it's important to, to, to note that at this moment that's before COVID the sprints, when you read the book the sprint, it's a totally you know, in-person thing, workshop analog with papers, stickies, all of these. When COVID hit, you know, everything stopped, we just couldn't run workshops anymore. We couldn't get in the same room and everything had to change. So, I mean, there was, that idea that it was possible to run remote design sprints.There is that guy, Robert Skrobe, you can check this website he is from Dallas and he was probably the first to really experiment a lot with the idea of remote design sprints.But what they were doing were more like experiments, or I couldn't recognize really the sprints that they were doing during these experiments because it wasn't really five.


Steph Cruchon (23:20):

The, it wasn't really the same type of workshop, but the tools were here and the exercises were there. And I was really following that. And I was like, okay, that's interesting, but there is no way I can even sell that in my own country, in Switzerland back then, you know, it made just no sense to do it remotely. When we could just gather in one room when COVID hit, I knew the first thing we had to do was to move remote. It was, it was crystal clear. So I had the tools, I had the knowledge of the methodology, how it's supposed to work real full five-day design sprints. And I had to build the templates for myself to run sprints where they did. SoI, I breached the template and, you know, I was quite nerdy because since I have now quite a lot of experience in running these workshops, I know how many stickies it takes for each exercise, how many ideas are generated, how much a space of real estate it takes on the wall.


Steph Cruchon (24:16):

So I could take all that experience in and make it, I think, pretty good online templates. I started with Mural, so the pink one, the yellow one is Miro, and thenJake Knapp and John Zeratsky, the creators of the sprints reached out to me and were like oh Steph, we are writing a guide to run remote design sprints, could you show us what you guys do? I showed them and they showed them the template and they were like, Oh wait. And they looked at the template. They were like, Oh, okay, this is neat. This, this, this works here. We can, we can see that it works. And that's cool. And it's actually Jake who asked me would you be okay that we can finish the template together? Because probably there were horrible typos in English, or they had ideas on how to improve it a bit more and then, we finished the template together, but then we distributed it under the design sprint name and we made it the official template for design sprints. So yeah, I think that was great. So we took some time with Jake and John and Jackie Colburn also, who's a great friend of John and Jake. And we took the time to really, you know, we took the book, we took the sprints, we wrote some very clear instructions and we just completely finished the template that was released on Mural. And then we made the Miro version and along the way, Invision reached out because they saw that it was getting popular because, what's cool, is that now a lot of people are using these templates to run their own sprints, including us. So Invision, they have that nice product called Freehand that is kind of an alternative to Mural or Miro and they wanted the templates as well. So, so we made it for them and, yeah, it's just cool to see all these people who are using the templates worldwide and yeah, that was our contribution to the remote design sprint.


Ed Orozco (26:15):

I think that was really awesome that you guys made that public and free.Because like you were saying that like a lot of companies when COVID hit where, or a lot of design firms were like, how are we going to continue to working if we always run our workshops in person and we cannot meet.And then that thing, when I saw it, I think I saw it on LinkedIn or something. I immediately share with all of my friends and all of my designer colleagues, because I was like, this is so well done. And of course it is because you guys have all of this experience of running the real sprints. So like you said, you know, how many post-its he took to for, for each section. So you had all the knowledge you were in a great position to make like the official template. So that was very cool. And I think that the whole design community is very thankful for that. So yeah, that was, that was very nice.


Steph Cruchon (27:08):

So yeah, you can actually find the template you write the official design sprint template and you can find it. What I wanted to say about templating is, it's not hard to make a template in general. Like it's not hard to distribute the templates, but it's hard to make a good one really hard because, you know, I've seen, there are many templates that exist for all kinds of workshop, including design sprints, but what I see a lot of people fall into the trap either to make something super complex with millions of artboards. And you don't, you have no clarity or super lean and you, you don't even know where to start. And I think with that one, we have something that is in the sweet spot. It's easy to use yet. It's deep enough. It's really the tool that we use, we don't use any other than this.


Ed Orozco (27:55):

Yeah. So the whole point, I think I heard Jake say this in an interview one time that the whole point of making the original sprint so analog and with papers and with whiteboards is to separate us from technology because technology is so distracting. Last night, I was actually having a conversation. I was, I was on another podcast. Not this one I was invited to on another podcast and we were talking about the importance of simplicity. A simple is good. The more simple things are the easier they are to understand. And especially if you're working with all this complexity that, you know, building a product is very difficult and collaborating with people to build a product is very difficult. So the easiest it is to work with the tool or the easiest it is to use the tool the better for everyone. Cause you're going to get more people on board and you're going to start actually creating value instead of fighting the tool or fighting the template.


Steph Cruchon (28:53):

Exactly. You know the design sprint is very deep and very rich. You could talk or read for the end of your life about that because it's so deep. But when you take the book, for example, it looks, you know, it's an easy read. Maybe it takes one day or two days to read it. And you're like, Oh yeah, simple, simple, simple. No, it takes a, it took them 150 sprints, I think with companies like Slack or Uber before writing the book before they were confident that, okay, this is the book we're going to write. So I see a lot being written, you know, people running one sprint, one workshop and the right full articles. And it's not about the quantity. It's about the quality of what you put out. To make, make things look simple, like about the templates. Some people reached out to me and they were like, Oh, you should ask these exercise or this or this or this, this, and then just asking them. Yeah. But what can I remove? Because it's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to make it, you know even more to the point with less things.


Ed Orozco (29:52):

Wow. That's so deep. And so impactful is like, yeah, I'm not going to add another exercise unless I know it's better than what I already have in there.


Steph Cruchon (30:02):

Exactly. Yeah, exactly.


Ed Orozco (30:04):

That's so great.Okay. So for you, what's the, what's the difference between, doing production work? You know, the classic product development work versus doing workshops like the design sprint and you know, all the things that you've been doing before?


Steph Cruchon (30:23):

Hmm. I think of me, it's a matter of experience and seniority. At least it's hard to compare, but when I was a young designer, I only cared about making nice things on Photoshop and, and you want to make shiny things. And I see that a lot. You know, you're going to websites like Dribbble, you have contests of the most, the best glossy icon, the best, whatever. So I've done that for years and I love that. And at some point you realize that's probably, you're not going to be the best visual designer in the world. There are some crazy guys there anyway, and the competition is crazy. And also you probably have more impact not spending 20 hours in one icon. You see, to accept that it's good enough to be used. And sometimes the best designs are not the most prettyI would say so once they understood that about the impacts of my work, I started to lose interest in just pure visual design. So I went into UX to work on functionality and the way we are doing things, not just UI, you know? And, I think, the workshop is just another step. I know a lot of great UXers would just love to do projects and this thing that's random of pushing very big projects.Workshops is for a specific type of people who are okay to speak in front of people who are okay to lead people and who are okay with high level of uncertainty.Because you need to guide them. It's blurry, it's messy. You know, we are creating new things that just don't exist.


Steph Cruchon (32:14):

So of course you're going to have pushback. So you're going to have people who are starting to panic, people who are going to be aggressive even, and you need to be able to just guide them in a nice and meaningful way. And that, that you just give that energy that makes the project start or move forward. And I just, yeah, I just felt maybe there are some people who are better than me at this, but it just felt that it was time for me. I was the right person for that. And yeah, and it's, it's kind of, you know, it's kind of a niche when not that many people are, because it takes a lot of years of experience to be, to feel comfortable doing that and to feel, you know, relevant there is, that imposter syndrome and it just takes time to feel good.


Ed Orozco (33:02):

Is there a difference between running sprints in Switzerland andEurope versus running them [abroad] – I know you guys have done sprints for other companies outside Europe, right?


Steph Cruchon (33:18):

And actually more and more, I think one of the milestones thanks to COVID is that we are becoming more and more international in a way. So, you know, maybe one year ago, most of my clients were in Switzerland or France because I'm a, obviously a French speaker. So that was my big asset. But now we have more and more, and even like, all our clients now are international and they come to us because they just want to do good design sprints because it's not enough to just read the book and run the sprint. You, you need to have clear guidance and experience.Even the templates are great tools, but you need to be able to use them well. And to create that energy and cause people if they commit to a sprint, they want results.


Steph Cruchon (34:07):

SoI would say there are differences in running sprints in Switzerland versus the rest of the world, but they will say it's more about the mindset and awareness about technology in general. Switzerland is probably, a bit late. And we saw that you know, the first month of COVID in Switzerland was the full panic to get just webcams or just work from home was already a big thing, you know, for the companies. So maybe that explains why we don't find that many remote design sprints with Swiss companies because they are still there, trying to figure out how to work remotely while many companies worldwide, otherwise have figured that out. And are just more advanced. So I would say when I run sprints in Europe and feel more like a teacher, I really teach the process and explain why we are doing these exercises. And when they will work with a startup from North America, I will be less about the process more about doing the work and the energy than teaching the process. That that's the difference.


Ed Orozco (35:13):

Let's see. And do you feel like your clients from Europe, since you're more sort of teaching the process, do you feel like their mindset is more about learning how to run the process internally versus other other clients wanting to actually run the process with you?


Steph Cruchon (35:33):

Yeah, it's a mix definitively. People reach out to us because they want to run a proper good design sprint, and they want to learn from us. There's always that idea of how we can internalize the sprints, you know, have in-house facilitators or run it for a lot of projects in house. And I mean, we are fine with that. Now we are at first of course, I was a bit defensive. I was like, Oh, they're trying to steal all our knowledge that we gathered. Andnow, no. I see our role as thought leaders in that space. And we have a lot of experience to share and I'm really happy to be kind of a mentor for, for companies to help them. Yeah. We run the first design sprints, and then we help you run these design sprints in house if you want.I think it's where we can bring value.


Ed Orozco (36:30):

Yeah. I think overcoming that fear of other people stealing what you know it's a big step. It's a big milestone, but once you do, it's amazing because people don't really want to steal it. They just want, they just want to learn. And at that doesn't mean that they're gonna, they're not gonna keep coming back to you for more advice, because you are still seen as the expert.


Steph Cruchon (36:53):

Yeah. Yeah. And I think it's like when you react like that, it shows that you're not very comfortable about who you are and what you can do, and what's your differentiator.That's why I was fighting to share the template, because even if that template took me a lot of time to design and, of course, a lot of thinkingI think it's just great to share it, but anyway, us running sprints with our templates, we are adding way more value than just using the templates. That's what companies are looking for now. They are looking to not only run these in sprint, but learning, running good design sprints, especially when they are their first design sprints in companies, because, you know, you have just one chance. If you're an innovation manager and you want to bring the sprint as a metallurgy in your company, you need to have very good experiences. The first one. So you can tell the story of these successes in a way and then you would be allowed to organize more and more sprints, and you just can't fail your first sprint.


Ed Orozco (37:50):

Yeah. And some of them will actually manage just with your template and the book and the videos to run successful sprints internally. And that's fine, you know, more power to them.


Steph Cruchon (38:01):

Exactly. The thing is there's also one thing that we are consultants and we are external to the company is that we don't compromise.And maybe I can explain a bit more about that. We, I know what works, everyone, so many sprints and I've made, you know, even experienced experiments before the book came out. So I had my own ideas and exercises that I want to do and format about the number of days and everything. I know what works and what I see a lot of companies that try to internalize the sprint. You know, there will be that big boss who says, Oh, five days is too long. There is no way we can do that. So let's do a two-day design sprint or let's do it in one day. And it just comes as a constraint. That's, he's not believing that there's the process he wants to challenge. And the problem is that if you are an in-house facilitator and it's your first print, of course, you're going to compromise you and say, yeah, we're going to do something in two days. You know what? It's not going to be good. It's not going to deliver the right results. And I think now we have the confidence and the experience to tell nofollow the process, I'm telling you, the recipe is good and follows the process because we had these successes in the past. We also had failures. A few, but they were probably because we didn't respect the process or we, we want, we tried another direction than what's actually works because we were asked to do it.And when they looked back at my screens five years ago, without the guidance of the book and what we do now, wow. We made a lot of mistakes and I just don't want people to redo these mistakes.


Ed Orozco (39:44):

And those mistakes reinforce that what you're doing is the right way of doing it. Because when you deviate from that methodology, you don't get the same results.


Steph Cruchon (39:56):

Yeah, exactly. What they love also is that it's a I see it a bit like a, like a blue jeans it's a, it's a methodology that works in all kinds of contexts and that is actually run all around the world. So we are very close contact with some top-notch facilitators worldwide. You know, we are on the Slack group, we exchange sometimes daily with some of them. So even if I operate in Switzerland or in Europe with French speaking clients or, European clients, I get insights from the U S I send insights from Europe. And we talk about the same thing. As soon as you start running a one-day design sprint, or whatever, you don't talk about the same thing anymore. So you can't, you can't learn from each other anymore. Yeah. I really see some value in talking about the same thing.


Ed Orozco (40:44):

Yeah.I was thinking if you want to do a one day sprint and, or a two day sprint, and that's fine, if you feel like that's valuable for you is not the same thing is, but you're just coming up with a new process. So it's going to take you a lot of time to develop it, to mature it, to test it until you're comfortable with it. And if you actually managed to develop it, please write a book.


Steph Cruchon (41:11):

Yes, yes, yes.


Ed Orozco (41:12):

Because we want to learn.


New Speaker (41:14):

You know whatDiscovering that book, you know, at first I was doing my own thing before the book came out and discovered the book and I was like, yeah, it's easy to read. And it's really good, but there were things I was, I was kind of disagreeing with as in, we can do it faster maybe, and maybe I'm not going to do that exercise. I don't see why I would do that. And, you know, I was challenging a lot. And over time, I realized that, you know, I've tried when something was failing and not working well, maybe it was working with one team, but that was doing it with the second team and it wasn't working. And finally, I was trying to add exactly the way Jake and John were doing and having conversations, even with them and I realize how smart it is and how, you know, it is literally standing on the shoulders of giants. They have run so many sprints and they wrote the book when the new way it worked and I've done the same, you know there were lots of things that I was doing at the beginning and I was newbie and I was in now I realize how good the book is and how deep it is. You can read it 10 times and you discover some more details that you can add to your sprints and that, Oh yeah, it actually works.


Ed Orozco (42:24):

Yeah. And it's also, I think it was great that you already had some experience before you read the book because you read it with a skeptical mindset, challenging every exercise. So that sort of stress-tests the ideas in the book. And for you, it's like, okay, this is solid. I already, you know, I've done it differently. Now I'm trying to add this. I prefer this way. Now. I feel more confident with this methodology.


Steph Cruchon (42:51):

Exactly. You need to, but that's not specific to the sprint. That's about anything you read. If a book becomes a bestseller it's for a reason because the book is really good or there's something very important or that, that plays not only to you or to one specific company, but that can apply to thousands of companies. And you need to try to, to understand the value in that book. And yeah, you can have that critical, you know, you read it like, yeah. But then the truth is gonna work for me. You know what, just try it, a lot of people start changing it before even trying it and my best advice is try it once, twice. And we talk after.


Ed Orozco (43:31):

Yeah. There's no amount of advertising that can replace word of mouth. When a book like this become so popular East for a recent, I don't think Jake on, on his own and John would have been able to promote it at a level of popularity that it is today by themselves. Recently, the book became so popular because a lot of people read the book and tried it, and they felt like it really worked, that it really delivers a lot of value. And So they recommend it to other people and they talk about it and YouTube about it. And the ideas spread.


Steph Cruchon (44:07):

Exactly. You know, there's some people in the field a few weeks maybe who saw it as a threat, because if you do a, if you have your process that lasts three months, and then someone's telling you, Oh, look what you can do in five days. It just looks, you're trying to go cut the time or cut the cost and whatever. It's not that. The sprint comes before the project, basically. So as soon as you have understood that it's not taking anyone's job. It just ensures that when the project is even becoming a project it's for a good reason, is that there is a reason to build that thing. And eventually what is built is better products that have a reason to exist.


Ed Orozco (44:49):

Yeah, absolutely.I wanna talk very briefly about your experience organizing the iToday conference. I know that was a very challenging endeavor.You started promoting the conference before COVID, perfect timing to plan that conference and that you had to switch to remote. Can you tell us a little bit about that?


Steph Cruchon (45:13):

It's such a cool story and journey.So basically we, we were thinking how we can promote the design sprint to people who didn't know about it because I think it's super popular in the niche of UX design or, you know, design thinking field, but it's still reaching the same people over and over. And it's a niche of people who are tech-aware, but we realized that the sprint can be used in all types of all types of challenges and for really non-tech companies. And we're like, okay, we want to create an event that's going to talk about innovation in general including a design sprint as an important piece or method for innovation, but talking from a broader perspective in Switzerland. And it was still, the idea was to have Jake coming in person in Switzerland at the EPFL SwissTech convention center. So if you don't know, EPFL is one of the most famous universities in the, in Switzerland for sure. And one of the most famous in the words, I think it's like the 30thvery important university. And there is a Congress center right there, and we have links with them and we're like, yeah, let's organize a really big a** event about innovation there. And Jake is going to come and also Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur who are the authors ofTheInvincible Company. They are the creators of the business model canvas as well. So really, you know, like big, important people in the field of innovation. So we had all of that figured out. It was really looking good and we launched the event. It was like December, 2019. And we started heavily promoting it in January interest, supposed to happen in August.


Steph Cruchon (47:09):

COVID hits [laughs]like in early February and that's video bummer because, you know, I've put so much of energy money, you know, that we had to pay up front and so much of investment in building that, and then you're like, no, it's like everything falls apart. And you're like so at first we had hopes that we could organize it in August. But then we saw that the situation really was getting grim in Europe and yeah, we had to go remote. And so yeah learned how to stream things, you know how to get a bit into that game if you know podcasting or YouTubing or whatever. And we, we ran the iToday summit as a remote summit and still, we have, what we decided to do is to keep the masterclasses as an in-person event. And we hope we have good hopes that we're going to be able to do it this year, at EPFL that will be at the end of August. So August18th and 19th at the convention center will be in person. And if we can't do it because of COVID and now we know how to use the digital tools, it's going to be virtual, but we hope not.


Ed Orozco (48:24):

And can people still sign up for the masterclass?


Steph Cruchon (48:28):

Of course. Yeah, of course. You can go on the iToday.ch and you can sign up for either Jake or Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur masterclass. And we have also a cool package combo if you want to add them both. And yeah, we think it's going to work because from a very big constraint that was supposed to be 700 or so people in kind of an auditorium we went to a more intimate workshop. That's going to be max between 50 to a hundred people per day. And it feels, you know, next August with vaccines with heat and sun it looks like it's gonna be possible.


Ed Orozco (49:11):

Yeah, hopefully we're going to get rid of this horrible, evil thing. That's COVID, as much as the remote sprint is being very successful where we're sick of this situation.


Steph Cruchon (49:25):

Yeah, yeah, exactly. It's, you know, like we embrace change and we, we went through the far, you know, when organizing virtual events and they think it's works, but if we have a shuts, you know, if we can still see meet each other physically, I want to try, I thinkI think it's what people want still and if we can make it work. And we are really able to adapt very fast now. So it's, it's cool.


Ed Orozco (49:54):

Yeah. That's very cool. So hopefully that's going to work out.I'm definitely, definitely going to be there.All right. So Steph, thank you so much. This has been amazing. It's been a huge pleasure to have you on the podcast and talk about all of these very cool things. Where can people go to find more about your company, the design sprint and about yourself and about the iToday conference?


Steph Cruchon (50:18):

Sure. so for iToday that we just talked about, that's iToday.ch. That's what you get in the masterclasses this summer.


Steph Cruchon (50:28):

We also have a monthly event that's called iToday Apéro which is a happy hour thing with talks each month. So you're welcome. That's for free. And if you want to know more about this experience of my company you can look on Google it's Design SprintsSwitzerland, or design-sprint.com the company is called Design Sprint LTD. And if you want to follow me closely, I'm mostly on LinkedIn. So under the name, Steph Cruchon.


Ed Orozco (50:58):

I'm going to add all of this links in the show notes, so that it's easier for people to just tap in and follow you.All right. So there you have it folks that was Steph Cruchon and the history of design sprint. And thank you so much for listening, Steph, thank you so much for spending this time with us.


Steph Cruchon (51:18):

Thank you for having me Ed really, really cool. See you soon. Bye.



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