The 12th of February in Milan In Sprint deliver for the first time ever in Italy (and among the first in the world) the Growth Sprint a format released by AJ&SMART the last 28th of January. The event was packed, but we were able to accommodate all the participants. This post is intended to give feedback for those who would like to perform similar sprints.

Participants in action at Sensei Srl

It was quite a revelation when Jonathan Courtney of AJ&SMART disclosed the combination of Design Sprint and Hacking Growth because they fit one to each other perfectly. The power of Sprint and the effectivness of growth hacking combined together to allow any organization to quikly experiment fast growth ideas.

To give you an idea about the combined power let me use the words of a recent post by Eran Dror:

Nontrivial facts about Design Sprints:
1. They Foster a Discovery Mindset
2. They Break the Fear Barrier
3. They Build Trust
4. They’re Surprisingly Easy to Sell
5. They’re Transparent, Time-wise
6. They Avoid the Cost of Context-Switching
7. They Unleash the Entrepreneur
8. They’re Infinitely Modular
9. They’re SUPER Fun!

Growth hacking strategies is generally to acquire as many users or customers as possible while spending as little as possible. A growth hacker is someone who uses creative, low-cost strategies to help businesses acquire and retain customers. I’m using Luca Barboni definition:

It’s a mindset, a process and a set of tools to drive rapid experimentation on marketing & product, in search for the most proficient way to scale a business. FAST.

So the 30th of January me and Andrea decided that it can be a powerful tool for our community and we decided to launch a Growth Sprint in Milan. We did it even with a short notice. We organized the logistic waiting for a maximum of 10 people to participate. In less than a week we reach the maximum so we doubled the attendance. Than a week before, two companies contacted us for participating as a team to do a real growth sprint. The date of the event a total of 35 people were registred.

The success was so clear that we decided to use the last part of the time to run a retrospective with one of the 2 companies.

Considerations

The format is very effective and the progression make people get easily in the flow. The focus got stronger and stronger, producing in few hours lots of growth experiments.

As usual the map is the most difficult part of the sprint. Even helping them in terms of customer journey into the 3 main hacking growth components (acquisition, activation and retention) do not make it easier. They tend to be very detailed, even if the facilitator explains about being broad as the focus is not the customer journey, but where in the customer journey we want to target the growth experiments.

A key moment is the Lighting Demo, where participants can diverge and ignite their creativity. The reason why I’m saying so is because we jump it over in order to have time for retrospective. Not having done the Lighting demo properly really made it the definition of a growth expereince too hard for most of the people, since very few of them can even think in terms of growth hacker.

The fact that a lot of people have never thought in terms of growth hacking is a reason to actually introduce the growth sprint with some gorwth hacking experience. Meaning: spent some time before the sprint on make the participant familiarize with growth hacking, either with an introductiory session or with some homework before.

Conclusion

The sprint were very effective allowing a storng focus on growth. The two companies appreciated the methodology and they feel the more they perform the sprint the more effective will be the experiments. This is because working in a growth sprint make them more familiar with growth perspective, enhancing the emergence of better ideas in a virtuous circle. As Sean Ellis say a growth hacker is

a person whose true north is growth

So performing the growth sprint make people understand their true north.

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