Project kick-off agenda: Running the discovery workshop

By Nick Butler


Get an example one-day Agile project kick-off agenda, learn what each activity achieves and get tips for facilitating your discovery workshop.

Get the Agile Project Kick-off Kit as a handy 39-page PDF. Based on this blog post series, it’s been revised and expanded, giving you the tools you need to get your project off to a successful start.

Buy the Kit

Speed without compromise is our motto at Boost. With that in mind, this agenda for a one-day Agile project kick-off workshop sets you up to start building your product the very next day.

As we discussed in our introduction to the Agile project kick-off, this is just one possible agenda, a fairly typical one here at Boost. You can find ideas for other kick-off activities in Jonathan Rasmussen’s project inception deck.

You’ll need the right people in the room: the Product Owner, stakeholders who understand the customers (and ideally some actual customers), the team who’ll build the product and the facilitator. If everyone’s open and eager to contribute, the activities below combine to create a high-performing unit with a common understanding of your product and priorities.

Project kick-off agenda

Here’s a brief description of each activity on the project kick-off agenda and what it contributes to the kick-off, along with a rough estimate of the timebox (the time set aside for the activity).

Product Vision

45 minutes

The Product Owner outlines how the product will help your customers and achieve the strategic goals of your organisation.

Then the team asks any questions they have and the conversation begins, uniting the team behind a common vision of the product and its purpose.

Press Release

45 minutes

Imagine you’ve released your product into the wild. Now it’s time to draft a press release that trumpets your success.

This is a chance for the whole team to paint a shared picture of what success looks like. From there you can work backwards to the product that will deliver that success.

(Take a break)

Elevator Pitch

30 minutes

Distil your product’s unique selling point in the marketplace and spin it into a story you can tell in the time it takes to get to your floor.

This helps the team position the product in the market and promote it to stakeholders. It also gives you an easy answer when people at parties ask you what you’re working on.

Success Sliders

20 minutes

There is often a trade-off between the different measures of a project’s success (time, budget, scope, quality etc). Success Sliders let you juggle the different factors to come up with agreed priorities.

Pragmatic Personas

45 minutes

Sketch out a range of representative users, then decide which is the highest priority. Give them a name and describe their background, along with how and why they’ll use the product.

Pragmatic Personas are a speedy way for a team to nail down who the product is for. Drafting these personas helps make your customers real, and doing it collaboratively creates a common understanding.

(Take a break)

Story Mapping

90 minutes

Brainstorm every task that users will want to complete using the product from their first touch to the point they leave. Then organise these tasks into the order they’ll complete them in, and group them into wider goals or activities.

It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees, especially with big projects. Breaking work into manageable chunks can make it less coherent. Story mapping pulls it together into an integrated whole. And it can also highlight the set of tasks or features that hang together as a MVP (Minimum Viable Product).


30 minutes

Following on from Story Mapping, decide as a group on the priority of the User Stories. What are the Musts, Shoulds and Coulds (MoSCoW) for our personas?

This instils in the team the ruthless focus on what delivers the most value, most quickly.

(Take a break)

User Story Writing

90 minutes

User Stories describe a feature of the product from the customer’s point of view. At Boost we use them for most of our work because they’re a great way of expressing the benefits of a project and providing a conversation centre until they have been completed.

By fleshing out some or all of your Musts you’ll learn the art of writing an effective User Story, and the conversation that is crucial to the process.

Team Charter

20 minutes

Decide and document how you’re going to work together.

The idea behind the Team Charter is that you’re more likely to get a great team when the team itself sets the ground rules.

Running the workshop—tips for facilitators

  • Get the project kick-off agenda clear in your head
  • Stick to the timeboxes you’ve set (learn about the joy of timeboxes)
  • Stick to the format of each activity—avoid get sidetracked or derailed
  • Collect the Agile arsenal:
    • Post-it notes
    • Index cards
    • Sharpies
    • Paper (bigger is usually better)
    • A whiteboard if you’ve got one
  • Make sure the room is comfortable
  • Take lots of breaks, keep people moving
  • Fuel the machine—fruit works well in the morning, sugar in the afternoon
  • Make sure everyone is heard. If you have a loud or a quiet person it can help to do some silent brainstorming
  • Capture the information. Make sure people write clearly and meaningfully so it makes sense when you transcribe it later, collect all the paper and Post-it notes, take photos of the whiteboard as you go

Want help running your workshop?

If you’re based in New Zealand, Boost can plan and facilitate your workshop for you. It’s a great way to get clear what you want to achieve, how long this will take and how much it will cost.

Learn how the project discovery experts can take the hassle out of building your business case and getting your project up and running.

How we can help you plan, size and cost your project

The Kick-off Kit

This post is part of a series covering the tools and templates you can use for a Project Kick-off.

  1. Introduction to the Agile Project Kick-off
  2. Project Kick-off Agenda: Running the workshop
  3. Product Vision presentations that inspire
  4. Press Release template and tips
  5. Elevator Pitch template and tips
  6. Pragmatic Personas template and tips
  7. User Story Mapping
  8. Prioritise user stories and produce more value sooner
  9. Success Sliders
  10. User stories: a beginner’s guide
  11. The Team Charter: Build a better team together
  12. Kick-off kit in brief: The discovery workshop made simple

Get the Agile Project Kick-off Kit as a handy 39-page PDF. Based on this blog post series, it’s been revised and expanded, giving you the tools you need to get your project off to a successful start.

Buy the Kit

Further reading

Watch The Board episodes on Project Kick-offs and Product Discovery Workshops

Read about the Project-Kickoff for our Scrummaker project

Agile training

In New Zealand and keen to train with the team who put together the Kick-off kit? Learn more about our Agile training:

Agile Professional Foundation certification, Wellington, NZ – two-day ICAgile course

Introduction to Agile methodology, Wellington, NZ – free two-hour workshop

Agile Accelerator team assessment – Agile review and action plan

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