How the Wright brothers inspired the way Google tests new ideas

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Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, by Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz, is a new book in which the Google Ventures’ design partners share the step-by-step process behind the “sprint” methodology that Knapp created to help companies such as Google, Slack, and Blue Bottle Coffee design new products and services in the space of a workweek. In the excerpt below, the authors detail how the Wright Brothers inspired the sprint process and how the methodology that they outline in the book is being adapted in companies, classrooms, and government agencies across the country. …

It’s easy to think of the Wright brothers as otherworldly historic figures whose famous flight was an unparalleled work of genius. But as a reader of this book, you might recognize the methods and hard work that got them off the ground.

The Wright brothers started with an ambitious, practically crazy goal. At first, they didn’t know how to get there. So they figured out which big questions they needed to answer. In 1899, the Wrights did their own version of “ask the experts” by corresponding with others who had tried to fly and writing to the Smithsonian Institution for technical papers on aerodynamics. They found existing ideas by researching kites and hang gliders, observing birds, and studying boat propellers. Then they combined, remixed, and improved.

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