Sprinting might seem natural for a sports brand, but it took the tesm behind Spain’s Relevo a day or two to get into the rhythm.
Using the Google methodology, they brought together members “with skin in the game” to focus on branding and to define the main features of the new product.
Product and strategy director of the Madrid-based sports site Germán Frassa says new projects are a great place to start sprinting. “With a clean slate, you can reset the rules and implement new workflows,” he says in an INMA Ideas blog.
“The working group must be small and committed to being operational, so make sure anyone sitting at the table really cares about its success. This will ensure participants are willing to cooperate and overcome any disputes.”
He says that with different opinions on the length of sprints, it’s important to find what works best for your team. “Start with a canonical sprint, following the recipe step-by-step, and then adapt to more flexible formats as you gain experience.”
And he adds that empowerment is not optional. “Empower your team members to make decisions and be accountable for the project’s outcome. This will encourage them to be bold and creative, leading to better results.”
And to accept the outcome: “A logical conclusion to the previous point: If you challenge your team to be bold and creative, you had better rise to the occasion. Nothing can be worse than selling the gospel of collaboration and then taking a step back.”
Frassa says when he floated the idea of a newsroom sprint to Grupo Octubre chief digital officer Mariano Blejman, the response was “sounds nice, but too complicated”.
And he had to admit having never done a sprint like that before. “Two years later, based on my experience in launching Relevo, I can say that five-day sprints in media are not just possible but are a powerful technique to generate value for users.”
But he says Blejman was right, and “there are a few caveats”.
Across five consecutive eight-hour sessions to brainstorm, prioritise, prototype, and test solutions, with the process following a “diverge/converge cycle” typical of design thinking.
Launched media group Vocento in 2022, Relevo has already demonstrated remarkable results. It is the top Spanish sports news brand on TikTok, and its engagement rates per post/follower on Twitter and Instagram are several times higher than its competitors.
With an average engaged time per page of 54 seconds, its website nearly doubles the average for publishers in Southern Europe.
Frassa says the key to these outcomes was adopting the Sprint methodology from the beginning, with a ten-strong cross-functional group including members from the newsroom, product, UX, sales and social.
“The process started with a three-hour ‘brand sprint’ to define the basic strategy elements: mission, vision, values, key audience segments, and brand personality.
“The main deliverable was the name of the project itself, which was proposed by one editor and decided through a vote.
“Choosing ‘Relevo’ (the Spanish word for ‘relay’) instead of the more obvious football-based choices that were on the table helped the team feel empowered and set the initiative on a path of challenging conventions.”
Next the team immersed in a full five-day sprint to define its main product feature. “The team struggled on the first day, but two ideas clearly emerged during the second,” he says. “By the third, the process worked at full speed, with every member contributing hand-drawn prototypes.
“The winning proposal was turned into an interactive prototype on the fourth day and usability tested with a few users on the fifth.”
A win for the methodology, and a great start for Relevo.