Day 1: Define the Challenge & Produce Solutions

8 Ask the Experts (Experts Interviews) + HMWs20’ + 10’

After the introduction the first exercise of the design sprint ‘Ask the Expert’ (Knapp, Zeratsky, & Kowitz, 2016) takes off. The facilitator chooses a ‘decider’. The decider ensures quick decision making and is crucial for moving the sprint forward. When discussions get stuck, he/she has the final say. The facilitator’s task, on the other hand, is to make sure everyone gets heard during the multiple phases of the design sprint.

As a facilitator, it is crucial to explain the funnel principle that underlies the first two days. Day 1 starts with a broad range of inputs and different viewing perspectives, making use of several brainstorming techniques, narrowing down towards a concrete co-creation plan on day 2.


The team sits in a conference room which includes a big table, a whiteboard and enough walls to hang post-it notes and sheets of paper. Each participant gets a stack of post-it notes and a pen. This first round should provide a broad view of the team’s vision on course materials. During the Experts Interviews the moderator asks questions to better understand the team, the teams interpretation of the preceding online modules and makes sure all team members get on the same page from the start.

Each participant answers four questions, before going to the ‘expert’ (team member). The expert shares his/her opinion with the team in about one to three minutes.

Four questions that can start or spark the conversation:

  • What is your course?
  • What problem is your course trying to solve?
  • Who is involved in your course and who would you like to involve?
  • If everything went as it should, if there were no problems holding you back , what would your course look like in two years? What would be the ideal situation? Think outside the box, there are no restrictions.

During the interviews everyone should note down things they hear and find interesting or challenging in the form of a question on their post-it notes so everyone can read them. Each question starts with the letters ‘HMW in the top left corner: ‘How might we …?’
By using this strict format, even challenges are viewed from a more positive perspective. Participants should formulate HMWs that can apply to didactics in general even though the experts might give personal opinions and course specific examples.


The 20-minute timeframe of this exercise is important to force the team to keep focused and provide clear, short answers in the interview. An additional 10 minutes can always be provided if necessary.

Next, all the ‘How Might We…?’ notes are stuck onto a wall or window for everyone to read. Participants are given some time to quickly read the notes after which the moderator takes the lead. The facilitator guides the team in grouping the HMWs in categories using a blue marker. This categorisation process is solely for forcing the team members to read all HWMs and to get them in their heads. The most important part is just letting them read the HMWs.

Each team member gets two red dots, the decider gets four to decide the most important/interesting HMW questions related to developing co-created courses. A ten-minute voting session starts after which the moderator creates a ‘voting tree’. Here, the post-it notes with the most votes are placed on top and the ones with the least votes below (like a tree or pyramid).

The HMW pyramid needs to be visible throughout the sprint and voted items mark their importance in the co-creation method. HMWs can always be reused and added to the following exercises. The post-it notes that were not chosen can be discarded, as well as the written categories.


Example end of ask the experts & HMWs


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