In this article we describe what happens in the Kick-off Workshop and how you can prepare for it as a team member as well as a coach. Let's go!
Business Design Coach
The Kick-off Workshop is the formal start of an iteration in the Business Design project. The purpose is to align on common goals and other organizational issues defined in the Project Charter. It is also a good opportunity for the sponsor to connect with the team and motivate them with inspiring words on the reason behind why this project has been set up and why it is important for the future of the company (either in person or with a short video message). The sponsor should let the team know what channels work well for direct and fast communication throughout the project (e.g. SMS, WhatsApp, Slack, E-Mail, PAs and other proxies are not what the team needs). In addition, we spend some time to discuss the Guiding Principles of Business Design and define our "code of conduct" for the teamwork, which includes:
"Las Vegas Rule" ("what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas")
It's important that nobody discloses intermediary results of the project to anybody in the organization without permission of both the sponsor and the team manager.
The Kick-off workshop is also important to prepare the upcoming Discover Phase with questions the team should explore and gain insights to create better solutions for the sponsor's problem. We usually include the following Discover areas and define activities by using our Discover Cards:
Today's business model
Practices & processes
Customers & users
Market structure & dynamics
Data & resources
Rules & regulations
At the end of the workshop, we always define clear tasks and assign them to the members of the Project Team. Weekly Status Calls help to keep track of the team's activities.
1 full day + preparation and documentation
Sponsor (in the morning only)
The Team Manager and Team Experts need to attend a Business Design Training before they join a Kick-Off Workshop. We train team members in our Business Design Academy.
As a Project Team Member
Your journey as a Project Team member in a Business Design Sprint starts here. You will get to know your other team members, if not already happened, and why this project came to life. Before the Kick-off Workshop, the Business Design Coach will have reached out to you to get to know you already before the start of the Business Design Sprint and discuss how you can prepare for it (see box below).
Familiarise yourself with the context of your innovation project (e.g. blogs, research papers, podcasts or your organisations perspective on the topic are good starting points)
Prepare access to insights and resources (e.g. specific experts, potential customers, reports, knowledge databases, etc.) that will help you in your area of expertise
Free up your calendar for the day and make sure you can attend the workshop with 100% attention
Arrange travel and accommodation in cases needed
As a Business Design Coach
The Kick-off Workshop is the first acid test revealing how well and precise you pinpointed the Setup Phase and the Project Charter accordingly. Take your time and do not rush to start the Business Design Sprint. You should estimate a couple days to prepare the Kick-off Workshop (check out the tasks in the box below), one day execution, and at least one day to document the outcomes and disseminate decisions taken throughout the team and towards the sponsor.
Check that the Project Charter is completed and aligned with Team Manager and Sponsor
Plan and conduct short "get-to-know" calls with all team members before the workshop
Ensure with the Team Manager that all team members are invited, travels, accommodations and room setup incl. catering is arranged
Agree with the Sponsor about his/her availability during the Kick-off Workshop and that a short visit is scheduled (30 min.) / alternatively: A short video message from the Sponsor is recorded and uploaded to the Project Workspace
Define the agenda for the workshop and align it with the Team Manager
Book and organise room & catering
Prepare and print all tools & materials
5. Signs of Success
We consider the Kick-off Workshop as a success...
...if the project team and sponsor agreed on the Project Charter (in best case, let them sign it)
...if the team got the impression that they will be working on a meaningful challenge worth solving for the sponsor
...if the project team has a very clear idea on what to do next in the Discover Phase (tasks on an Action Plan)
...if the project team is fully committed to work on the tasks assigned to them and see a reason why this is important
...if the coach is fully accepted and respected by the team as an methodological expert
6. Tools & Materials
1x "Moderation Wall" with purpose and agenda
1x Business Design Process and/or carpet
1x Business Design Guiding Principles as magnetic shapes
1x Project Charter in the Project Workspace
2x pin boards & moderation kit
1x Flip chart with paper
8x Discover Areas
25x Discover Cards
1x Action Plan (or other tool for "shared" task management)
1x Time Timer
Optional: 1x Anti-Bullsh*t Spray
Optional: Customer's Glasses
Optional: Tools for Virtual Collaboration
Project Charter should be documented in the Project Workspace
Dates for all workshops are also documented in the Project Workspace
Questions for the Discover Phase are captured and uploaded to the Project Workspace
Tasks for the Discover Phase are documented in the Action Plan or captured directly in the Project Workspace
8. Q & A
What if the sponsor can't make it to the workshop? Well, this should be the exception but the least the sponsor can do then is to send you a short video of his / her message. Upload the video to the Project Workspace and show it during the workshop.
What if we collect 100+ Discover questions? It seems you need to discover a lot and your team is not too deep into the topic. Focus on some Discover areas and not all of them. Usually, the world of customers and users, technologies as well as the competitive landscape are a good starting point.
How can I tell team members that the next couple weeks will be special? Tell them that Business Design projects require passion and extra effort (> 2 days per week) over the next couple of weeks. We need that and we expect that. Team members will leave their comfort zone from time to time and will be confronted with personal conflicts and disputes. Be clear about that right from the beginning.
What if some team members tell you that they are not able to work on the tasks because they are too busy? The availability of the team members should have been addressed before the workshop when you were about to prepare the Project Charter. Schedule 1-on-1 with the team members and review their calendars for the next two weeks. There are always possibilities to postpone or cancel other activities.
What are "communication rules"? We usually define how and when we communicate results of the project to people outside of the team. It is very important that this happens in a controlled manner. Moreover, we define how we communicate in the team especially between workshops (e.g. preferred time and channels).
9. Room & Infrastructure
1x Empty wall: > 420 x 200cm
1x Empty wall: > 220 x 90 cm
Chairs or cube seats
1x Low-distance projector for Project Workspace and sponsor's presentation
1x Table for catering
Hot & cold drinks, snacks or finger food
10. Example Agenda
In some cases the Kick-off Workshop has to take place in a virtual work environment, which influences the agenda. Check out our Miro Board to facilitate the Kick-off Workshop online.
08:30 - 09:00
Arrival and "Good Morning Coffee"
09:00 - 09:30
Welcome and introduction
Team manager & Coach
09:30 - 10:00
Short sponsor's motivational speech incl. Q&A
10:00 - 11:00
Recap of Business Design Process, roles & "code of conduct"
11:00 - 12:00
Alignment on Project Charter
12:30 - 13:30
13:30 - 14:00
Introduction to Discover Phase
14:00 - 16:00
Collection and prioritization of Discover questions
16:00 - 17:00
17:00 - 17:30
Wrap-up and farewell
* P = Presentation | D = Discussion | B = Break | T = Teamwork