Kicking off a new project?
The Anchors and Sails activity helps teams reach their destination more successfully by identifying potential opportunities and challenges at the beginning of the project cycle. We have used this activity many times with great success and have created a simple Four Step guide to help facilitate it.
The big idea is that your team is heading towards a destination and by identifying what can help you to move forward, and what could possibly slow you down, you will have a much more successful trip.
The Sails and Anchors activity works great for new project initiatives as well as Agile retrospective meetings.
Step One – Identify Potential Opportunities
Give each team member 5 minutes to consider the opportunities. What could propel you forward as you start this project? Ask each team member to come up with 2 or 3 suggestions.
Step Two – Identify Potential Challenges
Give each team member 5 minutes to consider the challenges. What could hold you back from delivering this project successfully? Ask each team member to come up with 2 or 3 suggestions.
Step Three – Share Your Thoughts
Take turns sharing suggestions for potential opportunities and challenges. The facilitators can stick the Post-Its up on a whiteboard while the team members are sharing (see our tips below for remote team collaboration).
Step Four – Create an Action Plan
After each team member has shared their thoughts, review the board and determine what to do next. What is the scale (or size) of each of these items? How can the team capitalize on these potential opportunities? How can they address the potential challenges? Capture action items throughout the discussion.
Pro-Tip: Make it Visual
Visual aids will really help this activity come together while also producing an artifact that can be referenced during the project planning phase.
Co-located teams can use a whiteboard and Post-it notes for this activity. Draw a sailboat on water (or print pictures out if you prefer not to draw). Use one Post-it notes for each opportunity and challenge.
Remote teams can use a tool like Trello or Mural to collaborate in real-time. To set the scene for remote team members, upload a photo of a sailboat to your digital tool of choice as the background image for your whiteboard.
Try It Out
In summary, start your project off faster and more successfully by collaboratively charting out how to take advantage of opportunities and avoid obstacles up-front.
How did it go?
Have you used the Anchors and Sails Activity for a Project Workshop or Agile Retrospective? We’d love to hear your thoughts about the technique! Please share your ideas with us. Comment below and feel welcome to provide additional tips for others who may be trying to facilitate this activity for the first time.