Who Should Be in Your Design Sprint Team?

Teams can accomplish more together than they can alone. Lennon needed McCartney, Ringo and George. Sherlock needed Watson. And The Avenger’s needed each other to beat Thanos *spoilers*.

Bottom line, while it’s true we can achieve so much as individuals, approaching challenges as a team presents the opportunity to aim for higher goals and is equally (if not more) satisfying.

A Design Sprint is also a team sport, harnessing your strengths and expertise, and making up for the shortcomings of going it alone to create the best possible. In this blog, PixelTree Media will explain exactly who should be involved in a Design Sprint.

Now you may ask, who should be in your all-star Design Sprint team? Ideally, you should have a team of seven people that each bring a different area of expertise. This means bringing in specialists in Customer Support, Sales, Design and Development, Deciders and Facilitators.

Keep reading to find out more about who should be involved in a Design Sprint as well as the roles in a Design Sprint.

Who Should Be Included in a Design Sprint?

As mentioned, you need experts in your design sprint team to best share knowledge. After all, no one knows everything. Bringing your experts together to solve a big problem can give you the best chance of solving the problem.

With access to data, feedback and technical know-how, you can assemble the best picture of the current situation and work towards the common goal with confidence.

Below we have detailed examples of who should be involved in your Design Sprint to achieve the best outcome.

Customer Experts

Why? As Design Sprints are laser focused on user experience, having people who deal with customers regularly is an excellent way of embedding their insights early and ensuring testing goes smoothly. This helps by:

  • Preventing best guess decision making
  • Highlights feedback which is currently driving customer sentiment, creating talking points
  • Increases the likelihood your prototype is already on the right track by the time Friday’s testing phase comes along

Who? This could be anyone but can often be from your Marketing, Sales or Customer Support teams. Just make sure that the person is close to the customer or on the front line and can gauge their feelings and opinions either through data or frequent comments.

Process Experts

Why? You may be familiar with your products and services, but what if your problem needs more granular detail? People who understand the customer journey or process are valuable to the Design Sprint team because they can inform the wider team exactly how something is done, why it is done, and what effect it has.

This could be information on how the customer navigates the system, the stages to deliver a parcel etc.

Who? This could be your Logistics Manager, Product Manager, and even cross over into technology and sales roles depending on the challenge.

Technology Experts

Why? This isn’t relevant for all challenges you can take into a Design Sprint, but for digital experiences, you could require a technical understanding of your technological capabilities, limitations and opportunities.

For example, you may want to build new features into your website. At the problem recognition or ideation stages, it’s useful to ask your tech experts if your objective is possible in the current architecture. Experts can also discuss previous attempts to solve the same problem, relevant unfinished projects and more.

Who? This usually relates to developers. Team members who know what solutions they have in place and understand best practices or recommendations on improving your tech approach.

Design Experts

Why? A Design Sprint wouldn’t be possible without a designer or designers in the mix. Designers are vital at the prototyping stage; bringing software familiarity to maximise delivery speed and design best practice.

But they can also be a great source of information at the ideation stage and can critique concept designs. Design experts would can also point out existing issues with the current UI and UX which require improvement.

Who? UX and UI Designers are a must. This can be expanded with help from those with specialisms in graphics to bring the prototype to life.

Your CTO is going to have a totally different way of looking at something and different concerns from your Chief Marketing Officer to your Head of Design.

Keep in Mind: Company Size Matters

When selecting your Design Sprint team, the size of your company can mean your starting line up is different.

In smaller companies, you may be able to have the CEO involved, but you may not have specific specialised roles, e.g. a dedicated designer or developer.

In larger companies, you may have to have the Decider be the person who has the most authority over the project, e.g. a Product Owner or Product Manager, in the absence of a CEO.

Just bear in mind that you shouldn’t restrict your team to specific individuals. Your team will ultimately be dictated by the following to name a few:

  • Relevancy to the project
  • Expertise and insights
  • Authority
  • Company size

What Are The Roles in a Design Sprint?

Alongside your experts, you will need two roles in particular to keep the week on track and to ensure decisions are made.

Check out our summary below of both ‘The Decider’ and The Facilitator’.

The Decider

While Design Sprints are a highly democratic process, sometimes you need someone to break the deadlock. Someone to read the room and make a judgement call. This is a role for the aptly named ‘Decider’.

The Decider has the authority to make the big call; a Product Manager, Project Lead, or even the CEO, which helps direct the Sprint immeasurably. This prevents dragging without a firm decision and reduces team conflict.

Responsibilities  Qualities 
To place the deciding vote on the challenge and best ideas Has authority to make a decision amongst the group
To mitigate conflict by making the final decision Limited bias towards other participants
To manage the information and make the best judgement Analytical and able to see the bigger picture
To ensure the best outcome by the end of the week Has a large stake in the success of the project


The Facilitator

A Facilitator is the person responsible for keeping the Design Sprint on track and maximising performance. This person is the engine of the team; explaining tasks, jotting down key points for summaries, and importantly helping progress through each task.

Whether it’s setting up the environment pre-sprint or in the thick of tasks, the Facilitator is a key role for keeping the Sprint moving.

Responsibilities  Qualities 
To prepare, organise and manage the Sprint Great at explaining tasks
To monitor progress throughout the Sprint Can manage discussions, record discussions and curate ideas/issues
To make sure tasks are completed on time Good time keeping
To take notes and create summaries of discussions Non-bias approach to ideas and participants (hear how UX agencies make a great Facilitator in our post here).


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Creating a Design Sprint team FAQs

The person responsible for the project or for solving the problem typically initiates a Sprint. This can be, but not limited to, the CEO or the Product Manager.

7 is our recommended team size, as it gives you room for a diverse set of experts (around 5 is a great number) alongside room for your Decider and a Facilitator.

See the next FAQ if you're looking to add more team members.

We recommend you keep a Sprint fairly tight knit and small. This is to ensure that you don't duplicate insights, don't have passengers, and so the team can move more nibble than as a big team.

If you do have team members who are experts but in something in particular, e.g. just the customer feedback process, you could invite them in to share insights at a fixed period of time. This is to ensure they can have their say on current work and add their insights without staying for the duration of the week.

If you can, you should. External team members that qualify as 'experts' are ideal for bringing in as part of your Sprint. This can help ensure all your bases are covered and all expertise is shared amongst your team.

It may sound bad on paper, but having a devil's advocate can be a good thing for a Sprint. Allowing someone to challenge the widely held viewpoint with justification can spark new ideas and allow teams to think outside of the box.

It's always useful to have a contrarian or troublemaker on the team!

Design Sprints at PixelTree Media 

PixelTree Media offer a Design Sprint workshop that is ideal for people who are looking to test new concepts before fully committing to them.

What’s more, during our Design Sprint workshop we can also explain the different types of people you need on your team. Take the first step in starting your Design Sprint process by getting in touch today.

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