[brainstorming] Lack of consensus on an idea; what to do?

27 Oct 2020 | Lean Inception

Below is another great Q&A regarding Lean Inception facilitation.

Question: I’m in the middle of a lean inception for a startup. So far, we have done the following activities: the Product vision, the Is – is not, the Personas, the Product objectives. Now we are on the Features brainstorming activity. The challenge: The participants are arguing about whether a particular feature should be there in the first place or not. It’s difficult to find some type of consensus. An example: people argue whether  the system should be completely autonomous (and add a feature for that) or if someone should be able to have access and configure it (and have features for that).

My question is: have you ever encountered this type of blocker at this stage — on the features brainstorming activity and if you have any good advice on what to do at this point to make it more productive?

Answer: Thanks for the example. It is very illustrative. My advice is to avoid the pursue of a consensus at this moment and accept both feature ideas. It is brainstorming, so you should welcome and accept all ideas. The group should not try to (prematurely) decide if it is a good or a bad idea.

Instead, accept it (both or as many features and ideas show up). Write it down and move on the lean inception agenda.

This way, at this specific moment — features brainstorming –, you let the momentum (and options) build up. As the time goes by and the group moves from one activity to another, the ideas and options become more and more clear. These are the Lean Inception activities (after the features brainstorming) that help on clarifying ideas and making choices:

After following all these activities, mostly likely that original conversation will be sorted out. And the group will (naturally) make a decision.

But, if the group gets by the MVP canvas activity and the doubt remains (should we go on direction A or direction B), then the MVP should be created to answer such question. The data gathered by the MVP usage should answer it (A or B?) and help the team make the best product decision. Then, the group decision is not based on conflicting ideas, but on real usage data.



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Paulo Caroli

Paulo Caroli is the author of the best-selling book “Lean Inception: How to Align People and Build the Right Product” (the first on a series of books about Lean Strategy and Delivery). He's also the creator of FunRetrospectives.com , a site and book about retrospectives, futurospectives and team building activities. Caroli writes on this blog frequently. Receive the next post in your email. Sign up here .
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