It is a 5 day customer-centric process for rapidly solving a key challenge, creating new products, or improving existing ones. Design sprints enable you to:
The aim is to fast-forward into the future to see your finished product and customer reactions, before making any expensive commitment. It is a simple and cheap way to validate major assumptions, the Big question/s and point to the different options to explore further through delivery. This set of practices reduces risks when bringing a new product, service or a feature to the market. Design Sprints are the fastest way to find out if a product or project is worth undertaking, if a feature is worth the effort, or if your value proposition is really valid. For the latter one should also consider running a Research Sprint. It compresses work into one week and importantly tests the design idea and provides real user feedback in rapid fashion.
By now there are many different variations of the format. You may come across the Google variation, a GV variation, the Design Sprint 2.0 (which is the agenda shown below). The best is to try different variations and judge which one works for what context.
Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Design Sprint practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.