Gather inputs to drive your mission. You can't determine where you are going, if you don't know where you've been. Bridge the gap by evaluating past and current-states in planning next year's goals.

2 - 2 hour sessions or
1 - 4 hour session
One Facilitator
Designed for 6-12 Participants

Skills Included:



Story Construction




Warm Up
...And it turned out that.

Did you know that stories about awkward moments make people more creative? This fact was discovered by researchers from the Kellogg School of Management. As the authors of the study explain, voicing embarrassing situations, a person removes the barrier of self-censorship and is ready for non-standard solutions.

With this warm-up, participants recall an awkward moment, but rather than share the full story, they are only allowed to share the last line, sparking curiosity and priming the group for further participatory activities.

Look Back Part I: Story Arcs
The Shape of Stories

Before embarking on drawing their journey, a four minute video is shown outlining the most common story arcs.

Vonnegut plots out a handful of story shapes on his diagram and explains why some of these patterns keep showing up in storytelling. To get a better visual sense of the story shapes, see the Man In Hole plot below:

'Man in Hole' story arc, drawn by Kurt Vonnegut
Look Back Part II: 1-2-4-All
Crafting Personal Narratives

Participants are asked to craft a narrative using a Mural Template. Using 1-2-4-All, participants solo design their narrative, share it with a partner, their partner critiques, together they revise. Revised stories are shared with the small group, before a whole group debrief.

Adding a break after sharing narratives created a more natural transition into the next "future" activity.

Hopes & Fears
Future Tripping

The next activity comes straight from the Design Thinking toolkit, but lends itself to a duration of time, rather than a specific project. Using the Goal-setting timeframe as a constraint, participants share “Hopes” that reveal the teams’ expectations about what can be accomplished and“Fears” that reveal doubts about the upcoming timeframe.

General Assembly and Jared John Rogers

Halfway-through, whew!

Part 2 of this workshop can be conducted after a small break or at the start of the second day. When utilizing two days, I include a short, 10 minute warm-up to kick-start Day 2.

Warm-up / Energizer: Charades

Divide the group into partners, have each group act out a 30 second skit of a movie, tv show, or book.

Goal Writing
Circles of Impact

Individuals ideate on goals for the upcoming year using prompts of areas of impact. Goals are clustered in themes and dot-voted on to learn the most popular.

By mapping out goals to sections of the organization, we were able to see how product design affects larger teams within our company.... it also let me see how my team can have a bigger impact.
- Shane Gleason, Product Design Lead
Embody It: Act Out the Plots
Acting Out the Plots

Using story-boarding, partners choose one of the top voted goals to storyboard meaningful moments to accomplish the goal. They act-out the plot for the top goals to succeed and specifically the moment when a goal is achieved.

Some past example include: A customer using a product, an executive acknowledging a particular project, the moment our benchmark reach a particular number, or a new designer joining the team.

Close Out
Parting A-ha

As a close-out activity, participants share an A-ha! moment or key takeaway from any of the activities.

Participant Outcomes

Team was able to see and hear each other's perspective leading to increased empathy & psychological safety.
Team was able to share-in goal ideation leading to increased buy-in and an understanding of motivations.
Team voices trade-offs leading to insight on future prioritization discussions.
Key Takeaways
  • Integrates design thinking skills: hopes/fears, critique, storyboarding + Agile skill of prioritization
  • Alternates mediums of learning: video, acting, writing, listening
  • Alternates opportunities for group size: whole, small group, partner and solo work.
  • Artifact enabled me to share the teams priorities and motivations with product leadership when finalizing goals for upcoming 2023 Strategy.