Design Sprint Dinner

Oct 29, 2019  ·  Anthony Boobier

Design Sprint Dinner

Design Sprints are a great way for a team to solve a big problem and test a solution with real users in a structured way. Some of the activities, language and concepts can be new to people, so I created this ‘Design Sprint Dinner’ exercise, as a fun way to introduce people to some of the concepts of a Design Sprint. I typically use it with teams who are going to be participating in a Design Sprint for the first time. It gets them comfortable working in a team together and alone; drawing and annotation, facilitator-led presentation of concept sketches, silent dot voting, heat maps and a final decider vote. It focuses on the ‘Define’ (ask the expert), ‘Sketch’ and ‘Decide’ stages.

Design Sprint Stages

The stages and flow of a Design sprint




So how do you run the session?


You’ll need three roles, the Facilitator, the Diner (who is both the Expert and Decider) and the Participants, along with the following materials:


  • A print out of the dinner (tem)plate for each participant (you can download your own copy from the link below)
  • Coloured pencils and pens for the creative meal sketch design.
  • Lots of coloured dot stickers for voting.

1. Fill the roles and dish out the Dinner plates


Pick someone to be the ‘Diner’, they will fill two Design Sprint roles, the ‘Expert’ (who understands the customer and their needs) and the ‘Decider’ (who is the key decision maker of the team and has the final word). Explain to the participants that these would be different people/roles in a Design Sprint. The Diner is the person the participants (everyone else) are designing the meal for. The ‘Diner’ is hungry (and a bit fussy about what they like to eat!). Explain to the participants that success for them, is to have a meal sketch selected by the Diner.


The Diner needs to have some clear food preferences. Give them some time to think about what they are (eg “I’m a chicken eating vegetarian” ... yes I have met those people ;) ), but don’t share those ideas with the participants just yet. The details will emerge as the participants begin to ask questions.


Ensure each participant has a print-out copy of the ‘dinner (tem)plate’ and access to plenty of coloured pencils and pens.

Dinner (tem)plate

2. The expert ‘Diner’ interview


The Diner sits at the front of the room and the participants gather information by interviewing them to find out what sort of meal they would want to eat. Get them to ask the expert ‘Diner’ questions, and take notes. Let the questions roll popcorn style (pop up randomly) from the group. Get them to ask things such as food preferences, what they would like to drink to accompany their meal, what time of day they want to eat. The ‘Diner’ should give options, and be vague in some areas, don’t just tell them the exact meal they want!


Timebox this to 5 minutes.




3. Participants create a meal sketch


This is the stage where the participants collate and present the information they have gathered in their notes from questioning the expert ‘Diner’. The participants need to draw a ‘meal sketch design’ and annotate it with descriptor text (have a look at the Art Gallery step below for some examples). This text is important as they will not be presenting it back to the group themselves; that will be your job as the facilitator. This sketching is done in silence, we are working together but alone.


Also tell them they must not sign their designs! No one should know whose meal sketch it is, you don’t want any bias influencing people when they come to dot vote in the next step.


Timebox this to 10 minutes

Design Sprint Dinner

4. Create an Art Gallery and (silent!) heat map


As the facilitator, collect all the sketches, shuffle them and put them up on a wall to create an Art Gallery. Hand out coloured voting stickers to the participants. Get the participants to look at all the sketches and place a dot sticker against a component of a meal sketch that they like. Get them to vote in silence; which is probably the hardest part of this exercise.


Remember to tell them they are voting on things they think the Diner would like to eat!


They can use as many dots as they like, on as many meal sketches as they like. Place the dots next to the meal sketch component - this creates a dot heat map.


Timebox this to 2 minutes

Design Sprint Dinner


5. Facilitator presents back


The facilitator describes what they see in each meal sketch, along with any written annotations. The creator of the sketch does not comment or say anything during this time. After the facilitator has finished describing the sketch, they ask “Did I miss anything?” The creator can then speak and offer any additional information or clarification they feel may have been missed. The facilitator then moves onto the next sketch, until all the sketches have been described.




6. The Diner becomes the Decider


The ‘Expert Diner’ now becomes the ‘Decider Diner’. They must now decide on the one meal sketch they would like the most to be prepared for them. In addition to one meal sketch, they decide on one element to add to it from a 2nd meal. They explain why they have made that decision and why they would like that meal to be cooked for them.




7. The debrief digestif


Check in and debrief with the group, how did they feel? Was it fun?


Debrief on the activities: why did we do them like that? Why do we annotate the sketch designs? Why dot vote? Why dot vote in silence? Why did the facilitator present back? How did they feel about the decider vote? Why do the activities in that order?


Emphasise that a Design Sprint, just like this exercise, should be fun. The participants should feel engaged and motivated while moving towards an outcome that can be validated with real users.

Download the Dinner (tem)Plate pdf

Categories: Product Development.