Design Sprints are a way of life at Hyper Island. For companies, their eyes are opened to explore new possibilities for their business operations in a new way of working. For students, it’s a chance to truly flex the creative muscles to solve a real-life business challenge, all while benefiting from invaluable mentorship. Here, we get a student perspective of the beginning, middle and end of an intensive three-day Hyper Island Design Sprint.

An intensive, creative experience

In collaboration with a leading strategy and innovation agency The Upside, Hyper Island students were given the opportunity to participate in a three-day Design Sprint with tech giants Google. Over 160 students from our full-time programs in Stockholm were tasked with dreaming up an innovation project* for Google. Split into multi-disciplinary teams, our students began with the fundamental task of creating psychological safety as a functional team, all while enhancing their collaboration skills.

Google employees were on hand to consult and mentor throughout the process and provide invaluable feedback after their pitch presentations. During these three intense days of creative wonderfulness, the vibe on campus was filled with positive energy and a strong willingness to deliver a winning pitch. Nothing better than a bit of creative competition to fuel the soul, right?

What is a Sprint?

We’ve mentioned ‘Sprint’ a couple of times now, and you may just be wondering what on earth we’re talking about. So, here’s a quick definition of a ‘Sprint’ according to us: a short and intense collaboration on a project between programs for a client with a specific brief.

Expectations and butterflies

Many students will never have never taken part in a Sprint before, so there was always going to be a mixed bag of emotions among them going into it. Business Developer student Giovanni K. Brenpong who took part in the Sprint said, “I knew it was going to be challenging, but I also knew I was going to learn a lot.”

Another contributor, Content Developer student Anna Kotris said, “I was a little worried that it was going to be too much to handle, but at the same time, excited to take on the challenge.

Extended Reality student Karl Murphy also contributed. “I expected an intense few days, but I didn’t have huge expectations as to specifics. I was just open minded,” he said.

Approaching the brief

Collaboration is absolutely essential when it comes to Sprints. Due to the nature of the quick idea generation and rapid prototyping during these sessions, this is where the Hyper Island mantra of ‘Team is everything’ really comes to the fore. “We tried to find something extra that we could bring,” said Giovanni. But what was that special something?

“The specific young generation that Google was trying to identify with are the biggest content creation generation in history. They’ve created more content in 10 years than has ever existed in the whole of humanity and was created before then,” explained Karl. “So, we wanted to provide them with a tool to express themselves that we felt Google was missing,” he continued.

Implementing psychological safety

For us at Hyper Island, psychological safety has a lot to do with unlocking the high performance of your team. It was actually Google that identified Psychological Safety as the single most important condition for a team’s performance after conducting research into what creates an effective team.

So, how did our students tackle this vital element of teamwork?

“We created an environment where we checked in every morning and checked out with every single person in the team, so we could understand where everyone was emotionally and mentally and to be able to push in these three days and give the best that we can as a team,” said Giovanni.

For Anna, it was to make sure that everyone’s voice got heard. “That everyone who wanted to participate got to participate, but also, to make sure that we had to kill some darlings,” she said.”

Karl echoed Giovanni’s sentiments. “Communication was absolutely key,” he said”. “We told each other how we were feeling that day, we used the tools Hyper Island had given us so far and we applied them to the Sprint, with good success.”

Reflections and learnings

The minds may have been tired from the creative intensity our students had experienced, but when all was said and done, there was so much to take away from this unique collaboration. “I take with me a different way of seeing things and a different way of solving problems,” said Giovanni.

“That you can actually accomplish a lot during a short period of time,” explained Anna. “I think that’ll be really valuable to take with me in the future.”

For Karl, the processes intertwined, and with that came a valuable realisation. “My main learning from this way of working is that ideas and the presentation of those ideas are one in the same,” he said. “You can’t separate those things. The presentation of the idea has to be every bit as good as the idea or everything fails and starts to fall apart.”

We look forward to many more Design Sprints in the future.

*Due to the signed NDA, we are unable to disclose any specifics about the Google Sprint assignment.

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Article updated on: 11 March 2024