How to build a winning Design Sprint team

Simon Tratnik
  • 5
    min read
  • Simon Tratnik
    Apr 11, 2023

Design Sprints have become an indispensable part of the product development process. By quickly validating ideas and refining solutions, design sprints save time and resources and help teams create better products.

Building a winning design sprint team is essential to achieving success.

In this article, we'll dive into the key components of assembling a high-performing design sprint team and how you can apply these insights to create your own winning team.

Not everyone in the company should be part of the design sprint methodology - there should be small team from different departments.

Define Your Goals and Objectives

Before you begin assembling your team, it's essential to have a clear understanding of your design sprint's goals and objectives.

Clearly outlining the purpose of the sprint and the goals you want to achieve will guide your selection of team members and ensure everyone is aligned on the project's objectives.

Having well-defined goals also helps keep every team member focused and motivated throughout the entire sprint.

Assemble a Diverse Team

A winning design sprint team includes people with diverse backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives. Aim to include 5-7 members in the team, with roles such as:

Product Owner

The Product Owner represents the end-users' interests and has decision-making authority. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that the product meets user needs and aligns with the company's strategic goals. They play a crucial role in defining the sprint's objectives and prioritizing tasks.

Product manager, designer, engineers, customer service representative and other members needs to be present during the entire process of design sprint methodology.

The Facilitator ensures smooth progress of the sprint and guides the team through the process. They are responsible for managing time, keeping the team focused on the goals, and maintaining a positive, productive atmosphere. A good facilitator helps resolve conflicts and ensures that all team members have the opportunity to contribute their ideas. Check out these facilitation techniques for successful ideation. There are two critical aspects to consider when choosing one:

  1. Experience matters: The facilitator will need to manage the team's energy and technical aspects of the workshop, especially if it's an online Design Sprint using tools like Miro and Butter. Having someone with previous experience running dozens of sprints can help deal with anything unexpected and ensure a positive outcome.
  2. The facilitator needs to be neutral: It's important to choose someone who is impartial with respect to the group or the hierarchy. If you run a sprint within your own team, you risk losing impartiality. For example, John, the big boss with the big mouth, could quickly take over and derail the sprint. If you need to run a sprint at your own company, try to do it for a different team or department to ensure neutrality.

The Designer creates visual representations and prototypes of the solution. They work closely with the Developer and other team members to transform ideas into tangible designs that can be tested and refined.


The Developer provides technical expertise and contributes to prototype development. They collaborate with the Designer to ensure the proposed solutions are technically feasible and can be implemented efficiently.

Subject Matter Expert

The Subject Matter Expert (SME) offers domain-specific knowledge to inform the team's decisions. Their expertise helps the team avoid potential pitfalls and ensures the proposed solutions are grounded in reality.

User Researcher

The User Researcher collects user feedback and data to inform the design process. They play a vital role in incorporating user-centered design into the sprint, helping the team create solutions that truly resonate with the target audience.


Design Sprint facilitator is helping team create the customer journey map.

Picking the Best Decider for Your Design Sprint Team

Picking the right decider is a critical aspect of a successful Design Sprint. The decider plays a key role in making the final call on which ideas move forward and which ones get left behind.

This person should have a strong understanding of the project goals, be able to evaluate the ideas objectively and have the authority to make the final decision.

Here are a few tips for selecting the right decider for your Design Sprint:

  1. Look for someone with experience: Ideally, your decider should have experience working on similar projects. They should understand the industry, the target audience, and the goals of the project. This will help them make informed decisions based on their experience.
  2. Find someone with authority: The decider needs to have the authority to make the final call. This means they should be able to commit to the decision and have the power to allocate resources towards the idea they choose.
  3. Seek out an objective individual: Your decider needs to be able to evaluate ideas objectively. This means that they should not have any bias towards any specific idea or team member. They should be able to consider all ideas equally and choose the one that aligns best with the project goals.
  4. Consider their availability: The decider needs to be available throughout the Design Sprint. They should be present for the initial briefing, the ideation and decision phases of the process. It's important to find someone who can commit to being available for the entire sprint.

Typically, the product owner is the decider. They have the experience and authority to make the final call. However, sometimes the executive team wants to be the final word.

In that case, the decision workshop would be the place to present all the solutions and team votes. The executive team would give the final decider vote on which idea is the best solution and gets prototyped and tested with customers.

The decision workshop is an opportunity to showcase all the ideas and get buy-in from the executive team. It's essential to have a clear and concise presentation to make the decision-making process more straightforward.

The team should also prepare for any questions or objections the executive team may have to ensure a smooth and successful decision-making process.

Design Sprint team working with sprint master during the sprint week.

Preparing Your Design Sprint Team for Success

So, you've assembled your Design Sprint team. Great! But don't just expect them to show up and work their magic without any guidance or context.

To ensure the success of your Design Sprint, you need to prepare your team and set them up for victory.

Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your Design Sprint team:

Foster a Collaborative Environment

Encourage open communication, active listening, and respect for each other's opinions. This will create a supportive atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and contributing to the project's success. One way to foster collaboration is by using design sprint hacks, tips, and tricks to create a more engaging and interactive experience for your team.

Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly define each team member's role and responsibilities from the outset. This helps prevent confusion, ensures efficient collaboration, and allows team members to focus on their areas of expertise.

Provide the Necessary Tools and Resources

Equip your team with the tools and resources they need to succeed, such as design software, prototyping tools, and access to relevant data or research.


Marketing expert and rest of the team taking notes in the idea stage.
Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration

Encourage team members to collaborate across roles and share their expertise. This will foster a better understanding of the project from different perspectives and lead to more effective problem-solving. Design sprints can improve your company culture by promoting cross-functional collaboration and breaking down silos.

Set Expectations and Timelines

Clearly communicate expectations and establish a timeline for each phase of the sprint. This will help the team stay on track and ensure the sprint progresses as planned. Make sure everyone is aware of the milestones and deadlines to avoid delays and ensure the timely delivery of the project.

Practice Effective Facilitation

As mentioned earlier, the facilitator plays a vital role in the success of a design sprint. They should guide the team through the design sprint process, manage time, and keep the team focused on the goals. Effective facilitation requires active listening, empathy, and the ability to manage group dynamics.

Iterate and Learn

Design sprints are an iterative process. Encourage your team to learn from each sprint, refine their approach, and continually improve their skills. Embrace the mindset of continuous improvement, and make sure your team reflects on the lessons learned after each sprint.

Celebrate Successes and Learn from Failures

Recognize and celebrate the team's achievements. At the same time, learn from setbacks and use them as opportunities to grow and improve. This helps create a positive atmosphere and encourages team members to stay engaged and committed to the project.

It's really important to build a team from different departments and giving them voice and creating a safe space for them to think critically and to progress with where they were to were they want to be. So giving people the confidence to act. All that in just 5-days.


Building a winning design sprint team is crucial for achieving success in your product development process.

By assembling a diverse team, fostering a collaborative environment, and providing the necessary tools and resources, you can set your team up for success.

As you embark on your design sprint journey, remember to be patient and open to learning. Every sprint offers valuable insights and opportunities for growth. Don't forget to read our article on how to incorporate design sprints into your product development cycle for more insights on optimizing your design sprint process.

By following these steps and embracing the Design Sprint mindset, you'll be well on your way to creating a winning design sprint team that delivers exceptional results.

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