How to use Presto Sketching to clarify your team’s purpose

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The Team Purpose map
The Team Purpose map

(source: Ben Crothers)

This chapter is about using Presto Sketching techniques to envision the future state. What will change about you and the people for whom you’re designing? What solution are you going to create, and how will it change that present state? This area is a mix of conceptual and literal representation, with a bit of visual metaphor thrown in. Let’s see how it applies to:

  • Helping your team rally around a common future with the Team Purpose map
  • Envisioning the future state of your customers with the Superhero Booth sketch
  • Exploring goals with the Build a Bridge sketch
  • Knocking down the barriers with the Goal Barriers sketch
  • Envision a future product with the experience canvas
  • Bringing future experiences to life with storyboarding
presto sketching

Rally around a common future with the Team Purpose map

Setting out to create a new product or service is one of the most exciting things you can ever do. But sometimes it’s worth parking that for a spell, and checking how you as a team are functioning first.

If you’re part of a startup business, it’s common to think of your business and your product as one and the same thing, having one and the same purpose. If you’re part of a larger business with one or more products or services, your team purpose might need to be expressed in a different way (e.g. a product support team’s purpose is different to the development team’s purpose). 

Or maybe you have had some staff changes in the team, and it’s been a while since the team’s purpose was really said out loud.

the team purpose map
Figure 2. The Team Purpose map: This is a fun visual activity to do with your team, especially if it’s a new team and you need to form a shared understanding together of who you are, your purpose, and your destination.

In any case, the Team Purpose map is a large-format template you can use to visually guide and capture a team’s discussions about their identity, purpose and direction.

There are loads of different kinds of these large-format graphic facilitation templates for capturing strategic outputs of large group discussions.49 The version you see above is my version, based on refining a template through lots of different strategic sessions. As with all of these visual patterns, do feel free to adapt it to your team’s needs. 

Use this pattern when you want to:

  • Set (or reset) a team’s identity, purpose and direction, and get a shared understanding and sense of ownership
  • Expose any hidden assumptions or anxieties in a new team, or a new project
  • Align several stakeholders, teams or organisations around a common purpose and direction

How to do it

Depending on your confidence in facilitating a discussion, you can either guide the discussion yourself, or give that duty to someone else while you capture what people are talking about on the wall or whiteboard.

Preparation is crucial for this sort of activity. Make sure that everyone knows ahead of time what will be covered. If necessary, give them ‘homework’ to do, to help them prepare for various sections of this activity. You might want to ask everyone to list what their own hopes and fears are for the new team, or what particular skills and assets they want to bring to the team.

  1. Gather your group and draw the team purpose map on the biggest whiteboard or wall you can find.
  2. It’s a good idea to have the boss or a senior stakeholder establish the intent of the strategic discussion, and give some background that would be helpful for everyone. 
  3. Start everyone off with something fun: get them to draw themselves in the space where you see ‘TEAM’ displayed. This definitely shows everyone that this isn’t your regular sort of meeting, plus it gets them used to using their hands, and not just their mouths.
  4. Ask everyone to take a sticky note and write what they think is the purpose of the team (or product, or whatever you are focused on), and stick it in the ‘PURPOSE’ area. As a group, reflect on any differences that have been posted up. The aim here is to get a shared understanding.
  5. Next, ask everyone to write what they think are the team’s goals, and stick them in the ‘GOALS’ area. This is what the team is going to do.
  6. This is a good time to ask your group what they think the ‘SUCCESS FACTORS’ will be for achieving those goals. Depending on your context, this could be anything from ‘can-do attitude’ to ‘special sales campaigns’.
  7. As a facilitator, it’s worth pausing and reflecting on the story unfolding on the Team Purpose map so far. You have a team with a specific purpose, and to achieve that purpose, there are several goals. There are also several things that have to happen for this to be a success. But now, you have to equip yourselves for what lies ahead by calling out the ‘CHALLENGES’. Go ahead and get the group to write those up on the Team Purpose map too.
  8. Now that your group knows what they have to do, they should now fill the ‘ACTIONS’ area with notes about how they’re going to do it. This might take some rearranging, but see if you can map it in a sequence of some sort.
  9. The last part is to check if your group has the right ‘SKILLS’ to be able to achieve all those actions. Get your group to write and stick up what skills are necessary, and then reflect on that set, to see if your group does indeed have those skills. If ever there was a time to call out any skills-gaps to achieve those goals, now is that time!
  10. It’s a nice idea to end your strategic discussion session by getting everyone to reflect on the overall story that the Team Purpose map is telling, and ask them to summarise it in their own words. This helps people to really internalise that story, rather than staying mentally ‘at arms length’ from it. 
Article image: The Team Purpose map

(source: Ben Crothers).

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