Dissecting the Design Sprint Event


Many moving pieces go into a successful design event at AF CyberWorx. Each person has a specific role to play: multiple roles, in some cases! While the most visible roles are the participants and the facilitator at the head of the room, the magic wouldn’t happen without everyone involved.

Stakeholders: Each event begins with a stakeholder. Some events have more than one; but the role is the same: to provide direction for the event and everyone involved. They know what the problem is, why it’s a problem, and what the end goals are. Without an involved stakeholder, the event is missing the backbone that provides structure and focus for the entire event.

Decision Makers: The decision maker isn’t always a stakeholder, and doesn’t always need to be 100% involved. When the decision maker controls funding and manpower, but doesn’t operate in the area on a day-to-day basis, they rely on the stakeholders to brief them about the event findings to decide on the areas to support.

Participants: As one of the most visible roles in the design event, participants are the vehicle for shaping the magic. They fill the problem solving process with relevant information and experience to arrive at unique solutions to the stakeholder’s problem. Nearly all participants are hand-picked because they can give the most benefit to (and benefit from) the event. The greatest impact participants make is being engaged as early as possible all the way through to the final outbrief.

Industry Partners: Non-government participants play an important role in an event, as well. AF CyberWorx invites industry specialists to join in problem solving according to their expertise. They provide key insight into the commercial world’s capabilities and direction of growth. The additional knowledge and experience they bring to a design sprint expands potential solutions beyond many current government abilities. They also add a diversity to the group that helps break down traditional military and organizational barriers to increase team effectiveness.

Facilitators: The other highly visible role in an event are the facilitators. They come in two flavors:

  • Strategist: The strategist is usually, but not always, the lead facilitator. They take the information the stakeholder provides and determines the structure of the event. Depending on how developed the initial problem statement is, they may spend more or less time on refining the problem or devote more time to having the subject matter experts fill in missing information. The strategist determines the general shape the event will take before the participants even finish registering.
  • Facilitators: There is the lead facilitator, who leads the problem solving team, explains activities and times breakout groups, and guides the entire event according to the plan the strategist outlined. The other facilitators provide support to both the problem solving team and the lead facilitator. They field questions, act as the eyes and ears of the lead facilitator, and ensure breakout groups have the support they need through information and materials. Most, if not all, of our facilitators are professionally trained UX designers.

Project Management Team: The project management team provides the support behind the scenes for the event. From logistics to security, access to secure facilities for classified information, and everything in between, the project management team works to ensure the minutiae are taken care of to let the problem solving team focus on the event.

Customer Relationship Owner: Last, but certainly not least, the customer relationship owner ensures that everyone involved gets what they need out of the event. The customers include the stakeholders, the industry specialists, the decision makers, and the organizations involved. They continue working even after the event is finished to connect industry and governmental organizations to make working towards a solution as viable as possible.

AF CyberWorx believes in the full concept of seeking and implementing improvement. The entire team works in their respective roles to best support finding and implementing solutions to the best of our abilities. Together, we can support the continued growth and superiority of the US Air Force in a rapidly evolving global theater.

*The postings on this blog reflect individual team member opinions and do not necessarily reflect official Air Force positions, strategies, or opinions.

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