The five-day activity is rooted in months of prior work in user analysis and a deep business understanding.

It is always difficult deciding on when to use and how to make the most of them. Most clients perceive them as a quick, almost miraculous process that solves complex business problems in 5 days, when in the real world they are a long-range that helps hasten decision making, validation and experimentation to ultimately solve business problems. But this does not all magically happen in just 5 days. Rather, it is rooted in months of prior work in user analysis and a deep business understanding.

When using Design sprints, it is important not to lose your orientation, your north star: a user-centered method and design thinking culture which must be properly communicated to your clients.

About a year ago, I had the good fortune of collaborating with the best research team I’ve worked with to date(You know who you are). They allowed me to jump into the project as Sprint Master in an undertaking that required much more than a Design Sprint to solve a complex problem. The Design Sprint was used as just one important resource to align visions and integrate the user into the corporate strategy.

The client, a high-end drugstore chain, wanted to generate a new set of rules that would serve as a guide to categorize and rank products in order to allow customers to perceive the value of the broad product offering while inviting them to explore the store and website.

This was by no means your typical UX optimization or User Research. Rather, the project presented a sweeping and cultural change from the very core of the organization. And this is how we contributed to that metamorphosis.

My roles: UX lead, Innovation lead, Sprint Master

Time frame: 4m 25 d

Categorization project map


The team started by gathering information to understand the current state, the vision and the expectations of the project. During the sessions, they unveiled the need for a guide to categorize and rank products in a consistent way throughout the organization. They also identified a need for governance and ownership among the different departments that were participating in the categorization process.

Ethnographies & card sorting

Next, our research department was in charge of getting the picture of the customer’s mental model by in-store walkthroughs. As was suspected, the mental model did not match the category model and had created dependency for personal aid when trying to find products throughout the store. On the digital side, the puzzle was being completed through card sorting to understand how users organized product categories.

Design Sprint

With all the information collected during the discovery phase, two new goals arose: to integrate the business vision with the clients’ vision and permeate it through the organization.

A Design Sprint seemed to be the right tool to achieve these new goals for its power in generating consensus and vision alignment. Plus, we were aiming to guide stakeholders to create new structures through co-creation activities while merging clients’ and business visions.


Team size: 8 participants

Time frame: 3 days

Sprint type: Vision / Process


  • Lighting talks
  • HMW’s
  • Crazy 8’s
  • Storyboards
  • Card sorting
  • Zen voting

The sprint challenge:

To define a new category system and structure according to the mental model of the Customer in both digital and physical stores and integrate it into the corporate strategy.


Customer-centered categorization proposal both for physical and digital channels and validated by stakeholders.

First day

Stakeholders and leaders shared their visions with the team though lightning talks. We helped them to map the process by using the start at the end technique. The Ah-ha moment came when the Director stated the final goal for the sprint that encapsulated the new business vision.

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