Problem Framer: the Perfect Workshop to Kick Off ANY Project

No hectic, stressful projects kick-offs anymore! Follow this easy 3-step workshop for clear goal-setting, clarity and team alignment.

New projects are exciting! They are a sought-after clean slate, a breath of fresh air, an opportunity to get everything right this time around.

Naturally, you’d want every project to start with a solid foundation: After all, you’ll be pouring an entire weeks worth of work into it! So a well-framed challenge, which is clear for the whole team and aligns every participant with the end goal is a MUST.

Sadly, all too often the start of a project is everything but effective, inspiring or smooth. The team is not being taken along for the ride with selecting the challenge, so they disengage immediately. Unstructured open-ended discussion drags out the meeting into hours, and by the end of it no one is excited about the new endeavor and energy levels are at the rock bottom.

That’s surely not how you’d want it to go (or so we hope!) That’s why today we’re revealing the ultimate workshop, which we use at the beginning of all of our projects to ensure alignment between all team members and a strong foundation for future work.

It takes from the exercises of the Design Sprint and we love it for its simplicity and effectiveness! Let’s get right into it.

Step 1: Get the real look on the status quo (20-30 minutes)

Step 1 of the Problem Framer workshop is the Expert Interviews exercise from Day 1 of the Design Sprint (read about the whole process here) and is all about getting real with the status quo. You have to know where you stand to make effective course corrections and aim in the right direction! The exercise helps close the knowledge gaps around the challenge at hand, as well as reframe the problems into actionable How Might We statements. While you might think you know your team and their challenges in and out, we found Expert Interviews to work wonders even with the biggest skeptics.

Here’s a neat video we made with a full step by step break down of the exercise, give it a watch:

The Workshopper Playbook is out now!

Step 2: Set your ambitious goal & define your burning Qs (10-15 minutes)

After you’ve heard alll about the challenges and problems your team faces, it’s time to shift your focus to your ultimate goal. Why are you doing this project? What will successful completion look like? This exercise will help you and your team get crystal clear on what you aim to achieve, as well as pinpoint the questions to check back in on when producing solutions.

Check out this video for a detailed explanation of each step of the exercise:

Step 3: Draw the map & choose the target (30-45 minutes)

After completing the first two steps of the workshop, you’ll most likely already feel more clear and aligned than you ever were during a project kick-off. Step 3 is really where all the parts beautifully fall into place and help you define the right challenge to focus on, while still keeping the bigger picture in mind.

Our CEO Jonathan Courtney breaks down the process in this video:

And that’s a wrap! After going through the 3 exercises above, you’ll have a well-framed challenge to tackle, an idea of which area you’ll need to focus on with the solution, and your team is on board and aligned. That makes a project kick-off a successful in our books.

Now it’s over to you! Try this Problem Framer workshop out and let us know how it goes in the comments below.