Prototyping and Soliciting Feedback in a Virtual Sprint — Lessons from Using Sprintbase in a Smart Home Project

Two major components of the innovation process are prototyping and soliciting feedback. How would you execute these components in today’s global digital environment? Jane Pritchard and Marie Laffitte of Treehouse Innovation discussed with us how they used Sprintbase, a virtual design thinking platform developed by Treehouse, to understand needs, explore ideas, and gather feedback for smart home renovations at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. Treehouse Innovation works with leading businesses around the world on strategic innovation projects to help them reimagine their products, services, and strategies.

Project Background

How might we provide all members of the community with a useful, intuitive, adaptable, and delightful smart home experience?

Jane and Marie worked with a large variety of stakeholders from the Kaust community including, residents, professors, students, and site maintenance experts. Their aim was to understand current resident needs from a human-centered design perspective. Jane and Marie approached the project with an important lens:

“Technology isn’t really a need…it’s more about technology being the solution to a need.” — Jane

At its core, this endeavor required a lot of in-depth research and interaction with many stakeholders. Ideally, this work would happen on-site, in person — but it is 2020. How could the global smart home team conduct this research in the middle of a pandemic?

Leveraging Sprintbase

Visualization of the project’s Sprintbase organization. Blue notes are insights promoted by KAUST members; yellow notes are design principles formed from emerging themes; red notes are brainstorming topics that address the design principles.


Example prototype visualization which addressed the design principle of adapting to changing needs over time

Soliciting Feedback

Prototype organization in the Sprintbase workspace

It was important for Jane and the team to approach prototyping and feedback as an iterative process — getting new input from feedback, incorporating the input into new prototypes, and starting the cycle again. They also curated the content they shared on Sprintbase so as not to overwhelm participants, and used targeted prompts with specific imagery to facilitate the feedback they received. All of these components together made for a powerfully effective process.

“We had a discussion guide that was designed. We didn’t [say] to the residents… ‘Hey, what would you like in a smart home?’ …we said ‘Tell us about what it’s like living at KAUST.’” — Jane

The collaborative project with the Kaust team was made even more challenging by pandemic conditions. The team leveraged the power of Sprintbase as a collaboration platform to focus on understanding problems the KAUST residents faced and thus improving their experiences. Sprintbase’s organizational and technical features enabled them to efficiently process their content and findings, and its virtual nature allowed them to work with people from many corners of the planet and truly harness the power of global collaboration.

Thank you for sharing with us, Jane and Marie!

About Sprintbase

Sprintbase supports amazing virtual design thinking workshops and projects that yield tangible results. Find out more about Sprintbase here.

About the InnoDays

The InnoDays bring companies and talent together to prototype ideas with a positive impact in 48 hours. We guide our participants’ innovation journey with our training program before and after the event with inspiring input and helpful methods. Find out more about InnoDays on our website.

InnoInsights aims to be a source of inspiration and guidance for how organizations can collaborate with external innovators.