Day 1 of a Design Sprint

Exploration Phase

The primary goal of the exploration phase is unleashing the creativity of the team to come up with as many solutions as possible. Once you get an understanding of the product and the end user, it is time to explore. The objective is to explore many possibilities no matter how viable, feasible or realistic they may be.

Exploration gives the team insight when considering the implications of different perspectives and approaches for solving a problem. The possibilities explored are valuable when differentiating forces and sources of solutions. Once the team starts eliminating the possible options, they get more confidence in the possibilities they move forward with since they have explored as many alternatives as possible.


This phase is a sensational phase when anything is possible. In this phase, a lot of sketching is involved. The activities involved in this phase include:

Mind mapping

This is more of a warm-up exercise done to start exploring and generating ideas. Mind mapping is often used for personal thinking, note-taking, and purposes as a form of preparation and warm up to other activities involved in the exploration phase. Individuals use mind mapping to explore the problem without sharing ideas with the group.

Crazy eights

This activity involves exploring lots of ideas quickly. It works best during the early stages of exploration to come up with ideas quickly. It doesn’t allow participants to weed out crazy ideas. It loosens up creativity such that ideas are generated really quickly.


Here, user flow is drawn frame by frame. The goal is taking ideas generated and sketching how users would flow through a particular part of the story. Storyboards allow the team to develop initial ideas further by giving them more time to explore into the details.

Silent critique

This activity involves getting everyone’s feedback and creating a heat map involving the most exciting ideas. It’s a way of having a more particular and unbiased critique period where all views are heard and not just the idea of a decisive boss or CEO.

Group critique

Group critique involves in-depth evaluation and discussion of the explored ideas. It gives the team members a chance to discuss what they think was best about an idea and adding more details to the idea.

People Involved in the Exploration Phase

The key people involved in this phase include:


The role of the facilitator is to guide the exploration phase from start to completion.

Product owner

This is the person who has the final say on the explored ideas. It is generally the CEO or the person who came up with the initial product vision.

The Team

Other people involved in the exploration phase include a user expert, product designers, and developers. Typically, the participants involved will depend on the goals of the stage.