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Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More. Today, I’m excited because my guest and I will talk about something different; it’s not what you would call a typical marketing topic.

Meet Catalina de León, a product designer from Buenos Aires, and a proud geek with over 15 years experience in the tech industry. Catalina is obsessed with transforming the digital world into a more beautiful and usable place. Catalina is a Product Designer at Feedly, Design Sprint Facilitator, and founder of Purple Bunny specialized in UX and branding workshops.

In this episode:

  • What is the Design Sprint methodology
  • How to use the best tools and methodology for our project
  • How to align remote teams and use Design Sprint most effectively
  • What are some ways to keep remote teams efficient and productive despite different time zones.
  • What tools to use to manage virtual workshops
  • How Design Sprints help bring ideas and thoughts directly into virtual collaboration.
  • What is Design Mindset, Design Thinking and how to use it.

Quotes from the episode:

“You have a lot of methodologies, you have a lot of tools, but you always have to figure out which are the right tools for your project.”

“If you’re going to be doing a marketing piece or a product and you’re not thinking about your audience or who’s going to use it, then why do you do it? They’re going to ignore it. It’s not going to be useful for them.”

Hey, a big hello from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More. I have a very special guest today, Catalina de León, a Product Designer at Feedly, Design Sprint Facilitator, and founder of Purple Bunny.

Catalina will be talking to us about the design sprint. Yes! Something completely different than any other marketing topics I have shared in my podcast. Let’s get started. So welcome to the show, Catalina!

 

Catalina De Leon: Thank you, Pam. Thank you so much for having me.

Pam Didner: Before we talk about a design sprint, is it possible to share with the listeners who you are and what you do?

Catalina De Leon: Sure. So I’m a designer. I’m based in Bueno Aires, Argentina.

Pam Didner: Yay!. I love that country. You guys have great food.

Catalina De Leon: We do. We have great, great meat. I’ve been in the tech industry for over 15 years. This year, I joined Feedly as a product designer. And for those who don’t know what Feedly is, Feedly is an AI-powered newsreader. Um, it helps people keep up with tech topics and trends that matter most to them. And it helps you get rid of the information overload that comes with traditional ways of gathering news.

And before Feedly, I founded a remote agency called Purple Bunny, where we do UX and branding workshops, like the design sprint, to create websites and digital products.

Pam Didner: Got it. You have a wide array of experience. I love the way you describe yourself. “I’m a designer.” So, um, I am aware, uh, product sprint, I’m aware of Agile Scrum. As far as I understand, in terms of a product sprint, it’s a framework or a process that helped the team members work together and quickly achieve a minimum viable product, right? So they can launch something very quickly. Then they will go back and refine and reiterate additional features that need to be added, and they achieve some kind of milestone. And they continue to optimize it. Is that correct?

Catalina De Leon: Yeah, Pam, you, I think you’re spot on in terms of what an Agile Sprint is. Design Sprint, there’s a lot of confusion because we’re using the word “sprint.” And there’s also a lot of confusion with words like “design thinking” and “design sprint.” So. The best way to put it together is that Design Sprint is a mix of Agile Sprint and Design Thinking. And in the term, in the sense that a Design Sprint is something that happens in a week. It’s a methodology created by Jake Knapp when he was working in Google Ventures in 2010 (I think he launched his book in 2016, actually). But it’s like a structured step-by-step system that mixes Agile with Design Thinking. And Design Thinking, on the other hand, it’s more of a mindset. So it’s a way of thinking about solving big problems.

You have a lot of methodology and many tools, but you always have to figure out which are the right tools for your project. Whereas the Design Sprint is like a recipe. You have the tools; this is a step-by-step they’re like no questions asked there. And it’s a very clear process, and you use it generally to kick off a project or validate an idea.

But at the end of the week, you have a high fidelity prototype that you have validated with users and that learnings–all of those insights–you can then take it to implement them n your Agile process. So you use it at the start of the process. Um, Agile, I think you use it throughout the entire development of a product.

Pam Didner: It does. It’s, it’s a continuous process, right?

Catalina De Leon: Yes. More like a disciplined project management system that gets the team aligned in terms of the guidelines the team has to do. Whereas the Design Sprint, you get together as a team; you get to gather like a team of five or seven people to work collaboratively on a problem and validate it at the end of the week.

Pam Didner: Got it. So Design Sprint is kind of like a workshop, and there’s three to four days or three to five days workshop, depending on how complex the product is or how complex the design is. With that being said, it probably requires face-to-face, right? Get together now sheltering plays, and we cannot get together. Everybody’s working remotely and working from home.

So how do you make it work for the environment that you know, many people calling in?

Catalina De Leon: Uh, yeah, I mean, you can make remote sprints. Since our company, Purple Bunny, we always did sprints remotely because most of our clients are abroad in the US, and even for Feedly, we have team members across different cities in the US and Europe.

So as you said, and now amid the pandemic, we’re more forced than ever to do remote, um, so there are a few things that we had to adapt for sure, in, in terms of making– I mean, we couldn’t expect to have two full days of the workshop. You cannot stay six hours in front of a computer and keep the same energy.

Pam Didner: No. No, not at all.

Catalina De Leon: I mean, if you even are in a two-hour call, you can start getting, you know, your energy down, you start getting tired–

Pam Didner: Yeah, you need to take a break.

Catalina De Leon: exactly. So we need to do breaks often. We split the workshops into multiple days. Like we do it in like two or three days.

Pam Didner: Typically, how long is the day Catalina? So do you like to do like four hours and then the next day, which is another four hours? Or how do you structure a day, and how long is it?

Catalina De Leon: Yeah, it’s like a full day when we do it in person. We start at 10:00 AM, and it’s 6:00 PM. But when we do it remotely, it depends again because we have different time zones in our case. So, we try to do no more than three or four hours tops. And we do breaks between that, of course. But like we, in person, you have breakfast together, you have lunch. So you have a different kind of relationship, and that’s harder to replicate remotely. So what we do is we always try to start up with warm-up exercises or icebreakers.

Pam Didner: Right, break the ice.

Catalina De Leon: Exactly. And, and there are other things like, um, in person, you, you get to remove the devices from the room, so everybody stays focused. And, of course, remote you’re working with devices. So we need to ask, like, “let’s put Slack to do not disturb, keep phones on silent mode.” You will have breaks obviously to go back to any priorities you might have. But, ultimately, there’s also a lot of benefits from doing it remotely.

Pam Didner: Elaborate that a little bit more. Tell me, what are some of the benefits? I cannot think of any (laughs)!

Catalina De Leon: (laughs) Actually, like you’re reducing a lot of waste, for instance. Like in this workshops use tons of post-its, you do a lot of like writing paper. You’re reducing waste on commute. Sometimes we had clients come to us and got on a plane to do a remote, like a workshop. You don’t; you don’t need to get on a plane. Um, you have like everlasting sticky notes. Everything is virtual because we use tools to replace the whiteboard. We have like Miro or Mural, and you have these sticky notes like you’re not throwing away or putting them in a, I don’t know, putting them in away in a folder. Like you can always access them. You can copy-paste the text for like afterwards when you are creating reports with results of the sprint. When you’re doing it in person, you need to look and type everything down again.

Pam Didner: So what kind of virtual tools, what kind of tools do you use to manage the remote workshop?

Catalina De Leon: We like the whiteboard tool, which is either Miro or Mural. So these tools are very good to replace a whiteboard.

Pam Didner: So how do you spell that?

Catalina De Leon: M-I-R-O. And there are two competitors, and they sound pretty much the same, which is funny, but on the other one is M-U-R-A-L, Mural.

Pam Didner: Okay. Mural. Okay.

Catalina De Leon: So these two tools, uh, allows you to have everybody on a big whiteboard. You get to have sticky notes; you can do rectangles, draw things. Um, you can use, like we have sticky votes, because many exercises require voting.

Pam Didner: Require voting. Yes. I 100% agree with that. So with that being said, does that mean that tool, uh, allows everybody to take control? You can take the pen–and everybody can take the pen to work on it. Is that right? Or somebody is like, needs to own the pin, uh, like 100%

Catalina De Leon: Everybody gets to collaborate at the same time. You can see the name of the people move around. You can see the mouses. So it’s pretty cool that you have you’re far away, but these two types of tools are bringing you closer in that sense.

And you can always come back to these, like, every time you’re doing like a report or if you’re like, sometimes we do a run-through of a sprint before do some prep work, and you can always come back to it. And look, we did this offline; take a look. And it’s already there, even for some things like there are some storyboarding exercises during the Design Sprint where people draw things, or they come like grab a pair of scissors and start cutting things from other solutions. So here you just copy-paste. It’s so much simpler. Um, you can bring inspiration from the web and just paste the screenshot. So yeah, in that sense—

Pam Didner: –people can research in real-time because everybody’s online, and they can check on something and bring ideas and thoughts directly into the virtual collaboration.

Catalina De Leon: Exactly. And you have more tangible examples, right? You’re not describing it in a post-it, but you’re showing the screenshots in the tool. So, in a lot of sense, um, I think it’s even better. And since we’re doing it, our remote, we need to reduce some of the time of the workshops. There are some exercises we do offline. So, um, giving homework or doing some like asynchronous communication is also beneficial because you save some time, uh, again, instead of having longer workshops.

The mural is where everything happens during the workshop. But then we use Notion; we use it as a project management tool.

Pam Didner: Notion is N-O-T-I-O-N?

Catalina De Leon: Yes. You can use others like Asana or Trello, or Base Camp. But it’s really helpful to keep track of the progress of the sprint. Um, you know, a lot of things can get lost in Slack or email, so–

Pam Didner: I know! That’s the problem with Slack. I just feel like it’s good for instant communication, and if you have to pass information, you’d have to share a file; somebody needs to access some things; Slack is fantastic. But in terms of structuring the deliverables and the project, I don’t think that’s the right tool to do it.

Catalina De Leon: Yeah, exactly. It’s like, you’re going to get lost trying to look for that delivery day to what was the task I had assigned to myself, or even if you want to come back and see, okay, what happened today? what was the summary like?” That Notion gives us the ability to summarize what happened every day and make sure that everybody is aligned and can see the progress.

Pam Didner: For this workshop, do you usually have a person facilitating? Do you assign two people to manage in a workshop, or is it’s one person-type of the show?

Catalina De Leon: Oh yeah. That’s a good question. Yeah, we always have one facilitator, um, then there’s a decider. Somebody has to have the final vote for all of the exercises. It’s basically whoever gives the thumbs up or thumbs down to any exercise.

But since we’ve gone remote, we’ve been doing a lot of, uh, assistance facilitation. So we have the main facilitator and a second facilitator, which helps, especially when you have people who might be the first online workshop. They might not have so much experience with the tools we’re using, so we call it the “tech facilitator” because it helps, uh, have somebody there assisting anybody who might have problems with the technology we’re using.

Pam Didner: Yeah.

Catalina De Leon: Sometimes you have like sketching or drawing, and there’s like 15 minutes where you’re focused on that. So maybe that tech facilitator helps put music in Zoom, or keep track of time, like stays on top of each of the exercises are very time box. We need to stay on time. So it helps to have somebody assisting the facilitator in that sense.

Pam Didner: I 100% agree. I do a lot of workshops and training myself, not necessarily in a design sense, but I do a lot of planning sessions, and I do a lot of training, as well. In the ideal situation, I agree with you, two people to manage other workshops.

One is the main person that I drive and guide everybody, and the other is focusing on the time and making sure all the logistics are taken care of. And, uh, or if the main facilitator is trying to drive the conversation, then the secondary facilitator can make sure to know it’s not taken properly and, uh, or even prepare of what next, um, you know, the next topic or next, next agenda that is to come.

Catalina De Leon: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s super useful. And like, even in person, we like, we have that person also helping with, you know, making sure that everybody has something to drink or preparing the lunch—

Pam Didner: Yeah, I agree. Exactly. Making sure the lunch is on time, making sure all the snacks are prepared—

Catalina De Leon: Otherwise, it’s too much for the facilitator.

Pam Didner: I agree. And I tried to do it once on my own and, oh my god, it almost killed me. And after that, I decided to do always bring somebody with me. That’s the best way to do it.

Catalina De Leon: Yeah. The thing is like, when we went remote, we thought, “Oh, maybe we don’t need that role, right? Because you don’t, you don’t have the lunch; you don’t have all of those things.” But then we realized, “okay, no, it helps to have the sidekick.”

Pam Didner: Yeah. I still think you need it. There’s still some virtual logistics you have to take care of. And you mentioned Design Mindset. And I talk about marketing mindset very often. Sometimes I will say, I communicate with my clients or even some of, uh, I have a Facebook community and talk to them and that we need to have a marketing mindset. And one of the community members asked me specifically, “Pam, what do you mean by marketing mindset?” I have my thought. I responded to Ryan, who asked that question.

So when people ask you that you need to have a design mindset, What does that mean to you? What kind of, you know, what is the thinking approach or kind of, I guess maybe capabilities or, approach that this person needs to have to demonstrate that he or she has that design mindset?

Catalina De Leon: Um, so yeah, I think the Design Mindset, and I’m going to think a lot about design thinking when, when talking about that, because, um, to me, design is about solving a problem. A lot of times, the designer might want to jump into the actual design..

Pam Didner: …right away. Yes. They get into the, uh, the solution mode. They want to solve the problem right now.

Catalina De Leon: Yes, exactly. And I think it’s about zooming out, like zoom out and let’s start thinking about the problem. And that’s why when I got to, I got to know the Design Sprint; I fell in love with the methodology because it had this perfect system that’s the first day you’re, you’re only focused about the problem. You’re only focused on understanding and getting aligned as a team and making sure everybody’s voice is being heard. And it’s not just about the designer. I think the name Design Sprints also tends to confuse people because they think that you need to be a designer to do a Design Sprint.

Pam Didner: Yeah. I was thinking that, too. Yeah.

Catalina De Leon: But no, no, not at all. I mean, of course, a designer can participate, but you could even have a Design Sprint without a designer. You don’t; you don’t need a designer. You just need people. And I, I think a design mindset, anybody can have a design mindset. It’s more about empathizing with whoever it’s going to be using your product, your website, your marketing materials, just thinking about them and keep them in mind when thinking about the solution.

Pam Didner: You know, interesting enough that that’s how you define the mindset and my answer to Ryan. When Ryan asked me specifically what is the marketing mindset? And, uh, I basically, you told me a while I thought about it like two or three days before I responded to Ryan’s question.

A marketing mindset is you need to keep your customers or your audience’s needs in mind. When you do any kind of marketing, you need to think through your target audience; how do they react to that? And if you create a piece of content, is that helpful to them? And if you try to promote it to them, is it, uh, kind of intrusive, right?

So everything you do, you need to think through like, okay. From the OD, found the eyes of the audience, how do they perceive that? To me, that’s a marketing mindset. It’s with a sense of, uh, your audience and your customer in mind when you do something.

So it’s kind of interesting the way you defined it is very similar to mine. So when you mentioned that, keep your audience in mind. I was like, “Oh my God., Catalina, I love you! I love YOU!”

Catalina De Leon: (laughs) I think the way you put it is spot on because, otherwise, what’s the sense, like, what’s the point of it? If you’re going to be doing a marketing piece or a product if you’re not thinking about your audience on who’s going to use it, then why do you do it? They’re going to ignore it. It’s not going to be useful for them.

Pam Didner: I, I agree with you, but unfortunately, a lot of time, um, when I work with my clients and, uh, they say, “Pam, I have to sell products. And it’s about the product. I need to sell the product. I need to promote the products. I need to tell them how good I’ll products are.”

And, so the way they are thinking about it is, “okay, what can I say about the product?” But, and I agree that’s important. And I’m not saying that’s not important, but I always tell them, “can you turn that around a little bit? And, rather than say how good our products are, can you say, can you communicate how they can use your product effectively to solve their problems?”

You are staying in the same thing, but it’s coming from that perspective, coming from the user’s perspective. You are right. It needs to turn it around.

Catalina De Leon: Exactly. Yeah, there’s a very, um, interesting framework from Donald Miller. I think his book is called Storytelling.

Pam Didner: Yeah, Storytelling. I love it.

Catalina De Leon: I think what you’re talking about is pretty similar because it’s about not being the hero of the story, not being the brand, the hero of the story, but positioning yourself as the guide. So it’s, “how can I help you with the problems?” And then you present the product; it’s shifting the mindset a bit and not talking about the product first. So, yeah, I resonate with how you just explained it.

Pam Didner: What are some of the tips and tricks that you learn? Say if the listeners want to implement the Design Sprint process. Unfortunately, they don’t have a budget. To hire experts like you to help them, if this is something they can do themselves in this, is there some sort of DIY that they can do, or is a book that they can read or a website they can go to?

Can you share some of that with us?

Catalina De Leon: Absolutely. Yeah. And anybody can, can run a Design Sprint, to be honest. So my recommendation to start is to read the book Sprint by Jake Knapp.

Pam Didner: Jake Knapp. Uh, how would you spell N on that?

Catalina De Leon: And that’s K-N-A-P-P.

Pam Didner: Got it. Got it. I was typing M-A-P-P (laughs).

Catalina De Leon: That’s where I would start. Um, you can also follow, uh, there’s an agency in Berlin called AJ Smart. They publish tons of content. Tons of tips—

Pam Didner: Can you say that? Can you say that again?

Catalina De Leon: AJ and then smart. That’s S-M-A-R-T.

Pam Didner: Got it.

Catalina De Leon: So they have tons of content on YouTube and Instagram, and they have like a Masterclass that they offer, and Jake Knapp participates and teaches the methodology. But it can be a bit pricey. So if you’re getting started, I think that just the book, and just following–there’s a lot of free content in there in their YouTube channel. You can also follow me if you want on Instagram at Purple Bunny. We also post a lot of tips about Design Sprints.

Pam Didner: Wonderful. That’s my next question to wrap it up so where people can find you and if they have any specific questions. You’re already sharing that with us, basically follow you on Twitter, or I’m pretty sure you all on LinkedIn, as well. If they have any specific questions, they probably can reach out, right?

Catalina De Leon: Absolutely. They can follow me actually on Instagram. There are so many social media accounts; that’s the one I focus on mainly. And also Purple Bunny, that’s the agency I founded. We are posting a lot of also material about Design Sprints.

Pam Didner: Purple Bunny. Excellent. Excellent, wonderful. So to close it, I have one silly question. I would like to ask you, what is the most useless talent you have? Like literally, like you have that talent. It’s like not helping anybody at all. (laughs).

Catalina De Leon: Um, so, I guess, I love watching TV shows with my wife at the end of the day and, uh, TV shows or movies. Uh, we always like kind of compete, in terms of to see who recognizes some actor in the show. I’m really good, actually like quickly recognizing a specific actor or character and recognize, “Oh, I know from where he is!” I guess that’s the most useless talent I can have, honestly, because it doesn’t help anyone, that’s for sure (laughs).

Pam Didner: (laughs) But I think that’s a talent. That’s a talent and wonderful. It’s so wonderful to have you on my podcast and my show, and it is wonderful to hear you and talk about design sprint. And, uh, as I said, anyone who is listening, and if you have any specific questions, so check out Catalina’s Instagram.

Catalina De Leon: Thank you so much, Pam, for having me. It’s been a blast. It’s been really fun.

Pam Didner: Again, thank you so much for listening to my podcast. And the podcast is one-way communication. If you have any specific questions, please email me at hello@pamdidner.com. You can also join my Facebook community, building the marketing skills to get ahead.

If you joined and you can ask me any questions, I will answer them directly. So love to hear from you and take care. Bye.

—————

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To keep on expanding your knowledge about marketing, strategy, and project management check out some of my previous podcast episodes.

An Example of How to Cultivate Strategic Thinking

Five Ways to Prioritize Your Workload

Creativity and Constraint


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