What the hell is a sprint?

First some context. The media landscape is constantly changing. Metro has to adapt faster than it’s competitors.

The good news: Metro has so many ideas about how to grow!

The bad news: the law of competition states that most new ideas will flop 😦

A true story. In 2011, Metro’s Head of Digital has us work solidly for a year on four new ideas: TV listings, better reader comments, user registration, and custom competitions.

They all had ZERO impact. We wasted an entire year. (It was the year Buzzfeed overtook us).

The answer? 3 things…

1. What does success look like?

Do you have success criteria? It matters because your idea is your baby and you think it’s beautiful. You will fight for your baby unless there is a unequivocal way to tell, “actually your baby is a zombie and it’s going to eat all of us if you don’t abandon it”.

How not to do it.

When we made Metro Nutshell we had no clear success criteria. We spent a year (on and off) working on it – the page, the navigation, keeping the content fresh, videos, analysing the clicks, a newsletter.

The result? It was a drop in the ocean: 0.1% of Metro’s page views. We wasted a year, again.

2. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

This is the corollary of having a success criteria.

I actually think that the core Nutshell idea was good, but not as a standalone page (or video).

We should have planned it as an experiment. What was our hypothesis? How could we test it?

What if we put Nutshell in the homepage sidebar? What if we A/B tested it?

The good news: the simpler you make it, the easier it is to test a hypothesis.

How not to do it. Take a long time to create something with lots of bells and whistles… find that you can’t learn from it because there are too many factors to account for.

3. Deep collaboration

Forget meetings and documents. Have daily conversations between writers, video desk, designers, whoever. It’s how Apple make there products so integrated.

Follow those 3 rules and you have a sprint – a quick way to learn what users want and what they don’t.

To find out more read this.

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