Workshop Exercises: Understand

Hopes and Fears

Remove the tension and uncertainty of a new challenge

Illustration of Hopes and Fears
Run a Hopes and Fears play

Alternative plays: Rose / Thorn / Bud, Start / Stop / Continue, Team Radar

Follow-up plays: Premortem

Timing: Discovery

Run time
30-45 minutes

Group size

Why: Gauge attitudes about a collaborative engagement and reveal expectations and doubts

When: Works great for kicking off a project with new team members

This workshop exercise is part of the Workshop Patterns printed card deck.

A collection of workshop exercises that will help you ditch dull meetings and facilitate with confidence. It will help you master the design process and have more productive time with your team. The card deck will be ready for purchase in the end of 2023 and is now undergoing rigorous testing.

Reserve your deck!

Instructions for running this play

  1. Prepare a whiteboard. Draw two columns on a board:
    • Hopes
    • Fears
  2. Introduce the exercise. Begin by explaining the purpose and process of the exercise. Encourage honesty and open discussion.
  3. Brainstorming Hopes and Fears. Hand out sticky notes to participants. Ask each person to write down their hopes and fears regarding the new challenge in a 5 minute Silent Storming exercise. Each note should only contain one hope or fear.
  4. Collect and Display. Have participants stick their notes on the designated wall space or board, creating two distinct sections: one for hopes, another for fears.
  5. Discussion and Analysis. Encourage each participant to Playback their notes while others listen. After each explanation, invite others to weigh in. Aim to understand the root cause of each fear and the steps to achieve each hope. Encourage the team to identify correlations between hopes and fears.
  6. Plan next steps. Consider using a Who / What / When to ensure clear responsibilities for moving forward.

Tips to perfect this play

Master and adapt the play to fit your context and needs.

Tip: Keep it visible

Keep the artifact posted where team members can see it. Refer back to it frequently to track progress.

Tip: Keep track

Over time, place stars on hopes that are realized, and remove fears that melt away.

Tip: Do fears remain?

For future retrospectives, take time to address fears that persist too long.

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