Two-day Lean Inception?

21 Jun 2022 | Lean Inception


Is there a possibility to run Lean Inception for just 2 days? If so, what do I need to address in this specific case?


This is a common question. So here’s my answer.


I don’t recommend running a Lean Inception in less than three days… a three-day Lean Inception is uncomfortable… a bit rushed, it is much more difficult for the facilitator and for everyone, with little time for brainstorming and conversations for alignment from different perspectives (business, UX and technology).


I often hear this question — “can I do it in two days?” – when someone is planning the first Lean Inception in an organization. I hear comments like: “we are already well aligned and we know what we want… so we don’t need 5 days”; other examples: “we already have the product vision”, “we already mapped the personas and their journeys”, “developers already know what they need to do”, “we can’t get everyone’s agenda for more than two days”, or “ We already have the list of requirements”.


But, most the the times, I manage to talk to the people involved and keep the Lean Inception workshop in 5 days. I share examples from other organizations and other teams that did Lean Inception in five days; how it was and how it helped them. I tell stories and share my practical experience of many Lean Inceptions (I’ve lost count) and the success of the teams after the workshop. Basically, I say that I’ve never had a situation where the group regrets having followed the week’s schedule. However, I have facilitated shorter workshops (one or two days) that achieved much less than what is achieved in a Lean Inception.



It’s 5 days! This is the Lean Inception agenda, as described in the book, with the sequence of activities over the course of a week. This is the period necessary to take the group through the business, UX and technology perspectives, with all people together, to understand and align the different contexts and different points of view.


So yes, on day 3 or day 4 (in the latest activities of Lean Inception) we will seek the intersection of business, UX and technology. Let’s work out the product increments and release plan (sequencer), and describe a clear vision about the MVP (on the  MVP canvas): what, why, how, for whom, how to demonstrate results/measure it, how long.


5 days is comfortable. But you can do it in 4. If you press hard, drink a lot of coffee, lengthen the days, don’t have any unforeseen… you can even do a good Lean Inception in 3 days.



But if you only have two days… if you try to follow all the activities… there will be very little brainstorming… which means that one of those three perspectives — business, UX or technology — will stand out, will take over the conversation, will influence decisions. So, I suggest that you decide, in advance, what is the most important perspective for the two-day workshop. Adjust the agenda and focus on the dominating perspective.


For example, as stated in in this study, if the most dominant perspective is business, either remove the activities that detail the technical part and the UX part or reduce (a lot) the talking about it. The same applies whether the most dominant perspectives are UX or technology.



Sequencer and MVP Canvas


But regardless of the more dominating perspective and which activities you are going to eliminate/reduce (without much brainstorming and alignment given the lack of time), you should keep the last two activities: the sequencer and the MVP canvas, as these demonstrate the alignment over the strategy and the MVP plan.

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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