Improv for Design Sprints: Google

Virtual workshop for Google

Client: Google
Project: Custom Workshop and Internal Speaking Engagement
Location: Virtual

Challenge

Virtual improv for Google teamWith their worldwide teams suddenly working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of the internal Sprint Master Academy at Google asked us to lead their distributed sprint masters through a custom workshop on how to make Google’s virtual sprints more effective and engaging.

The leader at Google was concerned about asking team members to facilitate virtual sessions practically overnight, and she turned to us for our expertise in integrating improv into meetings, brainstorming sessions, design thinking workshops, and design sprints to make them more productive, creative, and collaborative. Designing Insights led a popular session at Google’s invitation-only conference, SprintCon, in 2019, and the Google team was excited about having us customize our content so that it was relevant to the Google culture and a fully virtual environment.

Playing virtual improv games

Approach

Our Founder, Dana Mitroff Silvers, presented at an internal speaker series open to Googlers from across the company about her philosophy and approach to using improv in sprints. She discussed how remote improv games and activities can build trust and flexibility, foster comfort with ambiguity and failure, promote empathetic listening, and empower team members to be better, bolder, design thinkers.

Remote sprint workshop breakout roomsShe then led a live, online workshop for staff from design, UX, research, and product teams. Participants learned and played games that flex muscles essential to creative collaboration and promote team-building and connection in a distributed/remote environment. The games and activities were specifically calibrated to theĀ different phases of the Google Design Sprint methodology and Google culture, and every participant received a set of our Improv Games for Remote Design + Collaboration.

Impact

Internal survey results demonstrated that the workshop resonated with Google staff, who felt it was valuable and relevant.

  • 100% of participants reported that the workshop was inclusive and respected their background, identity, experiences, and values
  • 91% of participants reported that it was worth their time and that they will be able to apply what they learned
  • 91% of participants reported that it will have a positive impact on their performance at Google
I learned methods for keeping groups engaged, and I especially appreciated the activities for decision-making and closing. It was a great workshop, super useful
Google employee
I love the way you frame these methods as preparing people to do specific work. It’s so much more than just energizers or ice breakers!
Kai Haley, Lead of Sprint Master Academy, Google

 

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