The following is a summary of the Design Sprint roundtable conversation had between myself and my team members at Crema. Watch the full conversation below, and click here to view the Miro board we worked from! If you’ve never heard of Design Sprints, you can learn more here or read the book.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with some of my wickedly talented peers: a group of product designers, product managers, and facilitators that have been a part of several design sprints this year. I asked them each five questions, and we discussed them together. …


The following is a summary of the roundtable conversation had between myself and my team members at Crema. Watch the full conversation below, and click here to view the Miro board we worked from!

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with some of my wickedly talented peers: a group of product designers, product managers, and facilitators that have been a part of several design sprints this year. I asked them each five questions, and we discussed them together. Below are the questions, their responses, and some additional commentary.

Question 1: What did you see to be the most valuable aspect of the Design Sprint for the clients?

Product Manager: The ability to test and “fail forward.”


I’m a big fan* of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Particularly, I’m a fan of the sketch comedy troupe’s refusal to submit to traditional sketch comedy rules. Take Graham Chapman’s The Colonel for instance… The Colonel would interrupt scenes when things got “too silly.” The sketch would be getting sillier and sillier and maybe, just maybe, the audience would be lucky enough for The Colonel to show up and break up the show. “Get on with it!” he shouts on one occasion. …


I’ll keep this simple.

Perhaps the most important button I press every day, multiple times a day, is Zoom’s Hide Self View.

If I don’t, I end up inadvertently looking at myself and, inevitably, thinking about myself.

My appearance.

My background.

Me, me, me.

This is the opposite of the reason why I’m meeting with someone. I’m meeting to talk to them. To pay attention to them. To ask questions about them.

Them, them, them.

I heard it said that “leaving Zoom’s Self View on is like having a mirror behind every person you had a conversation with in real…


In this blog, I walk through 7 different elements of the design of Insanity and apply it directly to productive, high-functioning teams. In summary, healthy teams are aware of:

  • A clear end goal
  • Micro-goals
  • Times of occasional rest
  • Next steps
  • Workload & effort

They also have:

  • A visible team
  • A capable leader
Check out this Loom Video summary of the blog!

It was 5:25 am and my alarm forced to stumble from my bed to my kitchen where my phone was sounding. I turned off the alarm, grabbed a drink of water, and began my morning routine. …


I used to be antagonistic towards protests, let alone riots and standing up to authority with “less-than-peaceful” methods. Earlier this year, though, I fortuitously read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. I knew little of Mandela except for some flashbacks to his funeral and Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of him in Invictus, so I didn’t quite know what to expect to find in his life story. Little did I know this book would challenge my perception of protest, racial oppression, and what true freedom really means. This Nobel Prize-winning man of God who was the first fairly elected President of…


This is a story about a Design Sprint. If you’ve never heard of Design Sprints, you can learn more here or read the book.

Disclaimer: Due to the nature of this engagement, the brand name of this client must be kept private (but you’ve definitely heard of them). This case study will self-destruct in t-minus 7 minutes.

Expediting the Design Process

In Q4 2019, a Senior Product Manager at a Major Retail Chain (hereby known as “the Client” 🤷‍♂️) was looking at his roadmap for a customer experience that they hoped to redesign by late Q3 2020. For the development team to hit this…


Defining Moments

Chip and Dan Heath’s The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact is a valuable (and light) read for anyone in the service industry, the hospitality industry, the education or religious field, an agency, or the home. In short, if you interact with people and want to improve how you interact with them, teach them, make them feel special, or simply hope to make an impact on, you should read this book.

NOTE: If you don’t want to read this, watch this 20-minute talk that summarizes some key points, or this 4-minute video that unpacks a key message…


In one meeting the Vera team positioned themselves to gain 215,000+ users and get acquired in less than 17 months.

NOTE: To jump to the bare-bones summary, scroll to the bottom.

TIP: Check out the interactive facilitator’s template for this workshop on SessionLab!

This is my story of a custom prioritization exercise based loosely on the Design Sprint.

(Updated 7/17/20)

My thumb is far from green. Not only this, but my brain has a hard time with ambiguous instructions. Combine the two and you can imagine the confusion young Justin had when he was “hired” by his grandparents to water their (many) plants while they were out of town for a couple of weeks.

As we walked through the house…


In one meeting the Vera team positioned themselves to gain 215,000+ users and get acquired in less than 17 months.

NOTE: To jump to the bare-bones summary, scroll to the bottom.

TIP: Check out the interactive facilitator’s template for this workshop on SessionLab!

(Updated 10/26/20)

My thumb is far from green. Not only this, but my brain has a hard time with ambiguous instructions. Combine the two and you can imagine the confusion young Justin had when he was “hired” by his grandparents to water their (many) plants while they were out of town for a couple of weeks.

As we walked through the house, Gran told me to “water this” and “water that” and “give these a little more…

Justin Mertes

Coach & Design Sprint Facilitator at Crema

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