Design Sprints with Xander Pollock


with Xander Pollock


I'm a Design Consultant that helps companies answer critical business questions in just 5 days. 


Before consulting, I worked at Google for four years after they acquired my company. At Google I worked mostly on the Gmail team and helped design Inbox by Gmail.

Whenever a CEO needs outside help with a sprint, I tell them to talk to Xander. I trust his work. His skillset is unique—not only is a fantastic designer and facilitator, but he also has experience as a startup founder, so he knows how to get at what really matters for a business.
— Jake Knapp, Author of Sprint and Designer Partner at Google Ventures


The Google Ventures Design Sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. It’s a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more — packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.

Working together in a Design Sprint, we shortcut the usual endless-debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week. Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, teams get great data from a prototype. The sprint gives you a superpower:

The ability to build and test nearly any idea in just 40 hours.
— www.gv.com/sprint

We hired Xander to facilitate our Design Sprint to design a new strategic offering of satellite-derived intelligence to multi-billion dollar asset managers. By the end of the sprint we had a full presentation deck and proposal outlining our offering. We were then able to take this to New York and Chicago and get concrete immediate feedback (most of which was very positive).
— James Crawford, CEO of Orbital Insight

Teams I've worked with


  • CustomMade
  • Slack
  • Orbital Insight
  • Parlio (acquired by Quora) 
  • FitStar (acquired by FitBit)
  • Google Ventures

How it works


 From the Google Ventures Monday Morning Slide Deck

From the Google Ventures Monday Morning Slide Deck


MAP · Monday

Monday morning we'll set a long-term goal and make a list of questions we want answered by the end of the week. We'll also map the problem to build a clear understanding of the pieces. In the afternoon we'll interview experts, getting feedback on our goal, questions and map.  At the end of the day, we'll choose what part of the problem to focus on for the week.  

Sketch · TuesDAY

Tuesday kicks off by studying the competition. We'll figure what out what they're doing really well, and how we can remix the best ideas into our own solutions. In the afternoon, we'll sketch ideas independently, using a four-step process that emphasizes concepts over drawing ability, allowing everyone to contribute.

Decide · wednesday

Wednesday morning you'll walk into a room full of potential solutions to the problem. We'll spend time democratically deciding which ones will best get us to our long-term goal. In the afternoon, we’ll take the winning solutions and create a step-by-step plan for how we're going to build our prototype.

Prototype · Thursday

Thursday morning we'll assign roles to each team member so that we can all work together to build a prototype. It's heads down after that. Everyone will contribute to building a prototype of our best ideas. At the end of the day, we'll do a trial run to make sure we're ready for user testing. 

Test · Friday

Five real people will show up on Friday and use our prototype. We will watch and conduct interviews all day, collecting feedback and learning directly from customers. At the end of the day, we'll capture all the insights and lessons in a single document, and write a game plan for what to do next. 

About me

In 2012, Jake invited me to be part of his first-ever Google Ventures Design Sprint. We worked for five days together in San Francisco with a company called CustomMade. You can see the results of our sprint on YouTube (look for me at 2:18 with my shaggy hair). 

I was blown away by the process. I did more in that week than I did the entire previous month. The process helped us focus and work together to solve lots of challenges that normally would take weeks or months over email and meetings. It put templates and checklists in place as a process that just makes sense. It was the beginning of a lasting mentorship and friendship. 

Over the next three years at Google, I worked on different teams, applying what I learned from Jake and JZ. The highlight was launching Inbox by Gmail. The Verge captured it best: “Using Google Inbox: this feels like the future of email.” I worked on design and marketing, working on three of the four main features. I designed features for Android, iOS and web. I also helped write & produce Meet your New Inbox (2.7M views).

Today I run Design Sprints (full-time) for innovative companies and organizations, and am available for hire.

I only do two Sprints a month, and my time books fast.

Fill out this form and I'll get back to you quickly with some times we can chat on the phone for 15 minutes. 

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