The Sprint Feed
John Borden | June 7, 2018
Let’s do a quick recap of where we left off last time. On our last blog post, we talked about some of the changes we made to the way you create Sprints. What are Sprints again? They’re a tool within Business Toybox to help you answer questions about your ideas and clear up any assumptions you have about them. Why are they called Sprints? Well, design sprints and development sprints are already an established idea for quickly gaining insight or getting work done, especially in the software development industry. We just borrowed the term and applied it to what we’re working on, which is very similar to a design sprint, but with more fun tools.
Anyway, so the idea earlier was to nudge this otherwise simple process of making a Sprint into more of an experience, one designed to get you to think, but especially to think about the questions that can make your business models better when answered, or at the very least explored.
As for today, we’re going to go over the Sprint Feed. It’s kind of what I consider the heart of the Sprint experience.
Communication is Key
The first thing you see when you create a new Sprint is, well, a message telling you that there’s nothing here. This is actually the Sprint Feed mentioned earlier. Things are a bit underwhelming at the moment, but don’t worry, it’s pretty easy to make things more interesting.
The term “feed” and the design of our Sprint Feed itself is borrowed from social networking platforms. Most social networking sites and apps have a common pattern where posts show up in a linear, top-to-bottom format, and this pattern is typically called a feed. It’s designed to be an easy way to get the information that matters, and maybe also to get you to scroll ceaselessly through an endless sea of cat pictures. We’re less interested in that last part.
So why did we copy the design patterns and terminology of social networking platforms? Well, because the Sprint Feed is largely about communication. The purpose of a Sprint is to ask questions and get answers, but the Sprint Feed is all about communicating among your team members to figure out how you’re going to do that. If it’s just you, then the Sprint Feed can shift to more of a note-taking role where you write notes and reminders. Each post is organized by date, so it’s pretty easy to scroll through new posts and stop when you’re all caught up.
How does all this work? Well, it’s pretty simple. You see that bar at the bottom? You just write whatever you want to say inside it and hit enter. That’s it.
But sometimes you don’t want to just exchange messages with your team. Sometimes you want to share important pictures. These could be pictures that give crucial insight into the behavior of your potential customers, or insight into how something could be done more efficiently, or insight into a potential threat to your business model. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
It’s actually as simple as clicking the icon on the bar that looks like a photo. You can use it to upload a single photo, or multiple photos.
The odds are pretty high that you already use some sort of chat tool at your work. Maybe something like Slack or Hipchat. So, it seems kind of silly for us to try and reinvent the wheel and make our own chat tool within Business Toybox. Slack is pretty polished after all.
Slack is also really good at enabling me to share dumb memes with co-workers and generally waste people’s time.
Sprints are designed to have constraints. It’s why each Sprint expires after a certain amount of time. There is no such thing as a Sprint that lasts forever. The idea behind that logic is to get you and your team members to get your act together and get results before the Sprint expires.
The other constraint is to keep the feed intentionally pretty minimal. Eventually we’ll add more to it, things that are both fun and functional. However, Sprints will still ultimately feel constrained and focused. Not limited mind you, constrained and focused. They have a purpose, and we’re going to fine-tune them to fulfill that purpose pretty well before the Sprint ceases to exist (we still archive them, but you can’t do much with them at that point).
Beyond The Feed
The Sprint Feed is a simple yet useful tool within Business Toybox that makes communication just a little easier. You can use it to send messages back and forth between your team and also share images that contribute towards the discusssion and towards planning.
That’s not the only tool that comes with Sprints though. Later, we’ll be talking about what some of those buttons at the top-right do. We’ll talk about how you can use them to define important goals for your Sprint, as well as how to create forms to make it easier to talk to people.