People often assume a design sprint is only useful at a very early stage, when challenges and solutions are still vague, and the team has to find a way to get started. As soon as they're thinking something along the lines of:
"To build closer relationships with customers, we need to build an app!"
They're convinced a design sprint would be no longer of use to them. In reality though, there's a big difference between knowing, and KNOWING.
👉 First, just because you feel like it's a good idea, doesn't mean your customers will feel the same way. This creates a need for actual user validation, which can occur at literally any stage.
👉 Second, there are more ways than one to address a business challenge. If you want to keep people close, you could also invest in other channels like social media or your own website.
👉 Third, people are often less aligned than you'd think. For instance, sometimes people confuse strategy with tactics. Building an app is a tactic, becoming close with customers is a strategy.
So what's the ultimate benefit of a design sprint, regardless of what stage your innovation project is at?
In my opinion, it's two things:
Validation: from entire product concepts, to user flows, all the way down to specific features or functionalities. A design sprint gets you answers no matter the level of abstraction.
Guidance: challenging each other's ideas, and learning to work together apart is difficult to accomplish internally. Sometimes you just need a third party to make this happen.