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2 Day Design Sprint @Google

We teamed up with The Worldwide Tribe and Google in a two day design sprint to help the charity grow further.

The Worldwide Tribe Explores Virtual Empathy

“One of the core missions of The Worldwide Tribe is to change the refugee story from one about populations and governments, and to instead focus on the human struggle, suffering, and hope refugees live with every day.”

The Challenge:

Sometimes purpose is imposed, not sought. That’s what happened to Jasmin O’Hara in 2015 when a post on her travel blog went viral. Her blog had always been a way to share the stories of people she met around the world. Then, in August 2015, after visiting the Jungle Camp, a wooded refugee encampment in Calais, France with over 3,000 inhabitants, Jasmin wrote a blog post that changed everything. The emotionally raw post garnered over 65,000 shares and, suddenly, she had an active audience...and a mission.

Jasmin founded The Worldwide Tribe (TWT) to create positive change in the lives of refugees by harnessing her new audience. Staying true to Jasmin’s roots as a storyteller, TWT uses creative storytelling to humanize issues that are too often represented by statistics and trend reporting, and to invest in grassroots projects that make a direct difference in the lives of those in need.

TWT grew quickly and organically, launching multiple programs from France and Greece to Turkey and Jordan. There was very little time to strategize in the whirlwind. Then, after giving a talk at a hackathon, Jasmin was approached by Google’s Ricardo Davila Otoya who thought Google could help. That chance meeting turned into a planned Sprint led by Rick Farrell, Senior UX Designer, in Google’s London office.


“The emotionally raw post garnered over 65,000 shares and, suddenly, Jasmin O’Hara had an active audience...and a mission.”

The Team

The Sprint took place at the King’s Course Google office. The team included Jasmin and her brother Nils O’Hara, Lead Creative at TWT; Van Skoric, the TWT Strategist; and Joe Watson and Aryven Arasen of AryJoe Creatives, a firm TWT had collaborated with on multiple storytelling projects. In addition to Rick, Google brought in an Interaction Designer, a UI designer, and a UI writer.

The Sprint

Prior to the Sprint, Rick met with TWT founders several times, both in person and on video conference and telephone calls. It was determined that, due to tight schedules, a full three day Sprint simply wasn’t feasible. They agreed to run a two day Mini Sprint with the goal of generating actionable ideas that could be completed in a more leisurely time frame afterwards.

The meetings were also used to define the sprint challenge, its goals, and to consider possible deliverables. As Sprintmaster, Rick also spent time delving into TWT’s existing content and to study the output of similar organizations like Doctors without Borders.

Rick developed a brief that delineated the goals, the logistics, the team, and the schedule. The Sprint Challenge was defined as: Find new innovative ways of producing and delivering positive, uplifting content or experiences to highlight the refugee crisis. Increase engagement and awareness by creating impact that inspires audiences to act.


“Each phase of the (Sprint) process generates more than concepts, it actually generates motivation to get things done in the future."

While the Sprint wouldn’t conform to the typical 5 day process, Rick was convinced that even in two days the early phases of the sprint process would help TWT clarify its plan for moving forward. “One of the great things about Sprints is their adaptability,“ he says. “Each phase of the process generates more than concepts, it actually generates motivation to get things done in the future. With a small organization like The Worldwide Tribe, creating clear goals can be transformative.”

On the first day of the Sprint, the team met in the morning and went through introductions. They discussed the primary goals of the organization which included raising awareness, developing engaging content, ensuring donations, and providing humanitarian solutions. They quickly dove into lightning talks to better understand similar solutions from a large variety of organizations. Rick brought in a VR film producer to give a lightning talk that proved especially inspirational. This sort of inspiration is often critical to a successful Sprint. As Rick says, “If you can get the lightning talks right, it really gets people engaged. Hearing from folks that have had similar challenges is both inspiring and helps trigger ideas.”

The talks led to a round of How Might We’s written on post-its. The post-its were clustered into categories and themes and placed on the wall. Then, using dot stickers, participants voted on the “best” solutions for further exploration. Team members got three votes each, while Jasmin and Nils each got five votes to ensure that their ownership stake was represented in the voting.

Once the votes were tallied the team went into Crazy 8’s, sketching out different variations on the selected items. Each participant presented their Crazy 8 concepts and discussed them. Next, the team broke into pairs and started storyboarding the best of the Crazy 8’s. The storyboards were then presented and the whole team voted again with dot stickers. Again, Jasmin and Nils were given more votes. As the first day came to a close, the team had three ideas that everyone agreed were worth pursuing. “I always find storyboarding the most interesting part of facilitating a Sprint,” says Rick. “The seeds have been planted and the storyboards are like the first shoots of those seeds.”


Read more here: Google Sprint

aryven arasen