Product Strategy Scoping Workshop

If you’re looking to convince a client to run a workshop or need to align a team on a big strategic decision, running a Product Strategy Scoping workshop will help.

Whether you’re looking for an easy and effective way to convince a client to run a workshop with you, or want to align a team on a big strategic decision or direction, the Product Strategy Scoping workshop is just what you need.

It’s truly an all-rounder tool, and should be in the toolbox of every Workshopper out there. And while you can use it for an array of purposes, here at AJ&Smart we love using this as our fool-proof tool for selling Design Sprints.  Workshops can be a tough sell, because many teams haven’t tried this way of working yet, and don’t know how lightning fast and efficient it is. 

But instead of trying to convince them with the sheer power of eloquent speaking (which rarely brings the needed results...), we run a Product Strategy Scoping workshop with them. After teams experience first-hand how fast and efficient a 1-hour workshop can be, selling a longer workshop (like Design Sprint!) becomes a breeze.

Workshop Overview

Workshop name: Product Strategy Scoping

Workshop outcome: A high-level map of company’s challenge and its scope 

Time: Approx. 1 hour

Materials needed: A digital whiteboard tool of your choice

Minimum participants: 2

Maximum participants: 10 

A Scoping workshop (as the name suggests) is all about defining the scope and extent of the project you're going to be working on in concrete terms. Plus, doing an alignment workshop like that is great for showcasing to teams who have never run workshops before how easy, efficient, and enjoyable workshops feel – paving the way for running more workshops in the future! 

This workshop is best run remotely, especially if you’re using it as part of your sales process. The reason is because it simply wouldn’t make much sense either time- or effort- wise for you prospective clients to come in for this in-person. By running the workshop remotely you're going to save lots of time and make the process more efficient. 

Regardless of which digital whiteboard tool you will be working with, we suggest you make use of progressive exposure and hide the parts of the workshop that are not relevant just now. We always do that in our client workshops, because seeing a massive workshop board tends to confuse and overwhelm the participants. Plus, we don't want them to get ahead of the workshop flow! This way your client can relax and concentrate only on the exercises at hand..

Discover the step by step process of running the Scoping Workshop by watching this video – or continue reading the full article below.

Step 1: Prep Work

Before you jump on the call with your team or prospective client, make sure to send them a proper onboarding. Remote workshops (even short and sweet ones, like this one!) come with a learning curve. Resist the urge to just build in additional buffer time before the workshop. That’s a big no-no in remote facilitation, and will make your workshop feel more messy and less structured (the opposite of what we want!) 

Make sure to send out a list of all the tools you'll be using for the workshop, and  include a link to the board you'll be using, so that the participants can take a first look. We like to include a welcome slide for participants to see, where we introduce the workshop and its focus: capturing an overview of the business, the  current challenges, and the  unique value of the product and service. As you can see, we lock the rest of the board so that participants don’t get overwhelmed or distracted by all the exercises in the beginning.

Scoping Workshop Introduction

Step 2: Setting the Scene (Approx. 10 minutes)

The first exercise you’ll be doing is called 'Setting the Scene' and its main purpose is to help the participants organize their thoughts and for you as a facilitator to understand their situation better. 

Scoping Workshop setting the scene

Start by setting the timer to ten minutes and tell the client to describe what their current situation challenges are. Make it clear that  this exercise is not about finding the solutions or analyzing the challenges just yet. 

The easiest way to run the exercise is to share the screen with your participants, and have a co-facilitator help you take the notes. You can tell the group that you will take notes and categorize them on the fly as they describe their status quo and talk. 

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Once the client starts talking–pay attention to emerging themes, and rename the headings in the table to the ones corresponding with their challenges. The headings could be anything from ‘product’ or ‘marketing’ or ‘getting customers’ or ‘growth’ get the gist.  Start taking notes and placing the sticky notes into the corresponding categories. 

Pro tip: As your participants share their company’s challenges, rephrase a few of them challenges into How Might We statements! That's a very intuitive way of introducing this note-taking system, instead of just explaining the concept theoretically.

Here’s a quick recap of hope to do How Might We statements just right:

Step 3: Zooming In– Together, Alone! (Approx. 15 minutes)

Now that your group is warmed up, and you found out about their main challenges, it’s time to get them in on the workshop action!

The next exercise is all about the value your client’s company can offer to their customers and how they solve their pressing problems. The exercise is run in 3 sections: each section has a question and participants will have 5 minutes to answer it. But–and here comes the best part of workshops–there will be no endless group discussions; you’ll be working in a together, alone fashion.

‘Together, alone’ is a method of working where participants work together in real-time, on the same challenge, but without an open discussion or ideation. Each participant will note down their ideas silently, without exchanging ideas with others. This method of working helps dial down circular discussions and lets everyone in the room have an equal voice.

Brief your participants on how ‘together, alone’ method works, set the timer to 5 minutes for the first question, and tell your participants to think deeply about the first question they will see and try to come up with as many answers as they can (without sharing or showing them with others yet.)

Scoping Workshop together alone

In the first part of the exercise, we ask the participants which pains they eliminate or reduce for their customers. The second question makes the team think about which benefits they raise above industry average. Finally, the third question tries to get to the bottom of what unique value your client is offering to their customers. 

The reason we do this exercise in 3 sections, as opposed to just setting the timer to 15 minutes and letting the participants answer all three questions at once, is to avoid overwhelming the group. 

Pro tip: Working together alone is not something most teams are used to, and typing away in silence might feel awkward. To make the exercise feel less weird, we recommend you put our favorite workshop playlist in the background!

Step 5: Voting (Approx. 7 minutes)

Now that you have a well of ideas on how to best communicate the value of your client to their customer, it’s time to narrow it down. When it comes to communicating value, less is often more. No one has the time (or patience!) to sit through an hour-long pitch, so we need to make our value proposition short and punchy.

The way we’re going to do it is NOT by starting an open discussion, but by voting on the ideas we identified above. 

Tell your participants to select a dot, copy it, and place their votes on the things they deem most important. Give them 2 to 7 minutes to do so, depending on how many sticky notes they have generated.

Scoping Workshop Voting

After you're done you can emphasize to your participants that you now have alignment on what are the best ideas to tackle. These could be opportunities or challenges in areas that the company wants to grow in. Some of the ideas they have voted on might be aspirational: stuff that they haven't done yet. And while devising an execution plan for those is outside the scope of this workshop, it’s great to  have defined these things as well. 

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Step 6: Wrapping Up! 

After you’re done, it’s time to wrap up the workshop. This is the time to look back on everything the team has achieved in the past half hour and emphasize how much they’ve achieved.

This also your time to shine and overdeliver! To really woo your prospective client, you’re going to throw in a bonus that will make this workshop even more valuable: a high-level map of their challenge that you will create after the workshop and send over to them along with the other workshop outcomes. 

While the map doesn't explore solutions yet, it aligns everyone on a high-level workflow or journey, which will come in very handy in a Design Sprint or even just regular discussions. And it'll help the team find the most crucial areas for time (and money!) investment. 

Now you can tell your prospective client they can go back to their day to day work and that they will get the summary of the workshop, as well as the map from you. 

Step 7: Drafting the Map! 

Now it’s time to draft that Map: articulate the key value propositions you defined during the workshop, include their challenges, goals, as well as highlight some potential high-impact areas to explore in more detail.

For more in-depth information on how to create the map, take a look at this video:

And don't forget to share the outcomes from the workshop with your client! The easiest way to document the outcomes is to export the PDF of the board. 

Trust us when we say, these last touches are a must: over delivering on value  is THE secret sauce when it comes to selling workshops. If you followed our recommendation, you just  offered a lot more value than anyone else would during a sales stage. And guess what? Even if this client won’t work with you now, this is a great foundation for a long-term relationship. Focus on creating value and being really helpful to your clients, and we can guarantee you’ll be landing more workshop gigs than ever! 

Anastasia Ushakova

Brand Strategist, Digital Marketer, and a Workshopper.