An inception can be like a drama – with a narrative, dramatic arch, and very often blood, sweat and tears (and some laughs too, hopefully!) As part of this step, we setup an agenda which defines the outline of our narrative (i.e. the activities we want to run and the topics we need to address).

Designing an inception must be across-functional, collaborative exercise. We either do this in one session, or over a period of time up to a week. This depends on the complexity of the inception. While it’s best to design the inception with everyone in the room, we’ve also successfully done this with distributed teams.

No two inceptions are alike – many contextual factors play into which activities we plan in (e.g. relationship with client, degree of uncertainty around the problem-solution fit, etc) Even so, we believe we can base the agenda on a generic inception agenda blueprint.

To avoid wasting time reinventing the wheel, we start with our inception agenda blueprint and follow the steps in this chapter, to tailor this.

The time it takes to design an inception is usually relative to how long the inception will run for. This itself is relative to the size of the challenge (are we building a new business? product? feature?)

As a rule of thumb, expect to spend:

  • A couple of hours to design and plan a one-day inception (say, incepting the development of new features);

  • Two days to design and plan a one week inception (for a 3-6 month initiative);

  • A week to design and plan a six-week inception (for an initiative taking a year or more).

Once we’ve designed the agenda, we turn this into a schedule by following the steps in plan an inception.