There are five stages to run an inception: Set-up and get ready, Design what we will do during the inception, Plan when and how we will do it, Run the actual activities, and Wrap-up the inception to facilitate the next steps.
We cannot say it often enough: inceptions are not easy to do well. We constantly need to be able to respond to the unexpected because inceptions frequently uncover assumptions, misalignment and conflicting views. The following considerations help us succeed:
TAILORING FOR THE CONTEXT
Some inceptions include discovery activities (prototyping, running experiments) while others look more like project kickoffs (focus on governance and scope). We tailor inceptions based on various factors including assumptions around the problem / opportunity / proposed solution, risk appetite, commercial constraints and availability of participants.
TIGHT BUT FLEXIBLE PLAN
We put together detailed schedules of each day’s activities and the participants needed. The activities continue to build on each other, providing a narrative of how the problem leads to the proposed solution. There are also opportunities throughout the inception to plan, reflect and reschedule activities based on what we learn.
This is critical for achieving the outcomes of an inception. The challenge here is in: keeping everyone on track while still being able to respond to change as needed.
After reading through this section of the playbook, feel look at the following sections. These contain blueprints you can use to design an inception, cheat sheets with practical advice, and for the discerning practitioner there is further food for thought in our deep dive section.
HOW IT ALL WORKS
We Set-up our team, Design and Plan the inception, then Run it and finally Wrap-up, i.e. act on the insights gained.
This playbook supports these activities via blueprints which can be used as templates, cheat sheets as quick reminders of the most important things during each activity and deep dives that provided detailed guidance on how to design and plan.