• sprint innovation process

Sprint - Upgrading the Formula

Lab Confidential
Innovation. Fast.

To some degree, organisations can resist change, but not an idea whose time has come. We believe the sprint is one of those ideas.

At Sputnik5 we do innovation in general and sprints in particular.


Innovation projects are like runners - each has an optimal distance: Sprint, mid-range or marathon. The sprint is a way of getting a fast look around the corner.


We described the 4 week Sprint 5 months ago here:


We have seen first hand how much the sprint can do in just 4 weeks. The sprint works because it focuses on: 

  • A fixed problem to be solved in a fixed time frame with fixed resources

  • Minimizing your involvement and maximizing understanding and output

  • Doing stuff to build a new user-centric understanding of the problem

  • Building and testing solutions not quantitatively analysing possibilities

  • Keeping complexity low over time as opposed to large innovation projects

innovation complexity

The 4 Week Sprint

Before the 4 week sprint we aim to build a diverse group client-side including one decider stepping in when needed. Furthermore, we book calendars and meeting rooms in advance so that basics are covered and dependencies are uncovered. We propose a range of simple digital platforms to be used during the sprint: Slack for communications, Google Drive for storage and collaboration and ProjectPad for overview and decision making.


4 week sprint
4 Week Sprint

Sprint Output

We have used the sprint on a broad range of challenges that produced very different kinds of output - below are a list of the most recent sprints and the output:

Innovation output
Sprint output


Based on intense sprinting with clients and learning from the World’s most innovative companies we have now upgraded and expanded the formula as exemplified below. It’s important to stress that we rarely look beyond the sprint due to its exploratory nature and the steep learning curve. When we approach the end of the 4 weeks, we begin to look beyond.

Innovation overview
Sprint Overview

A sprint may lead to many things other than a solution to the problem at hand: 

  • Sprint is used as basis to make decisions for e.g. strategic activities

  • Sprint on challenges or opportunities encountered during the first sprint

  • Sprint solution goes into operations

  • Sprint extends itself into a marathon, i.e. innovation project

  • Sprint output is split into separate concurrent sprints

  • Sprint as “the way we do innovation” - a modular comparable corporate sprint program

What’s new?

Corporate Sprint Program (CSP)

As no candle-maker became a light bulb-manufacturer, no carriage-maker became a car-producer and the post office didn’t invent the email, there is undoubtedly a need to focus on people, processes and the organisation. We’ve build corporate innovation programs since 2001 and the corporate sprint program is the most transparent and low touch way to get started. The core principle of the CSP: It's easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting. Below is an example of how a year in the CSP might look:

Corporate Innovation
Corporate Sprint Program

In brief, the CSP consists of 4 phases, 1 per quarter, with reviews in between:

1st  quarter is a kick off sprint run by Sputnik5 with management and designated sprint ambassadors resulting in a sprint scope, i.e. people and domains for following sprint.


2nd quarter consist of a minimum of 3 domain sprint co-run by Sputnik5 and sprint ambassadors where domains are focused on exploring opportunities in relevant technology and trends or focused on solving specific problems. Learnings from 1st and 2nd quarter are used to design large scale sprint program.


3rd quarter sprints are run by internal sprint ambassadors (Sputnik5 consulting on process and overview) within silos. Late Q3, the Sprint Summit gathers management and sprint ambassadors to sum up learnings and decide on scale and scope for Q4 sprints.


4th quarter is a mix of new sprints, sprints leaving the CSP into operations and marathons. Late Q4, the year in CSP is summed up and next year’s sprint program and metrics is designed from data and learnings. Metrics may involve innovation degree of sprint, sprint-to-operations/marathon, people involved, strategic fit/business alignment, concept maturity etc.


We strongly believe that anything that is measured and watched, improves. Data-driven comparability and digital/physical knowledge sharing is therefore a major part of the CSP.


Sprinting as all about being stubborn on the vision, but flexible on the detail as Jeff Bezos of Amazon once described his idea of strategy. A sprint stops after 4 weeks because we’re done not because it’s been 4 weeks. Knowledge about technology and trends within products/services, business models, strategy and organisations is globally sourced and made locally relevant by Sputnik5.

...but wait, there’s more:

We are furthermore exploring shorter sprint formats, e.g. 1-day sprints and 1-week sprints similar to the Google Sprint that can be used for solving problems as they occur, as backbone for strategic seminars and internal kick off events.