Start at the End


What is it?

Start At The End is a simple exercise to identify a set of assumptions which must be tested in order to achieve a long-term goal. It's a rather simple exercise, which asks participants to describe what success looks like for their work and use this to define the goal of the effort. We default to 12 months, but it can be longer or shorter. Then, the exercise asks participants to imagine all the ways their project can fail, and use the results to enumerate key questions or assumptions that must be examined at the start of the work. The technique is derived from Chapter 4 of The Sprint Book. At the end of the exercise, you will have:

  • A shared understanding of your effort's goal.

  • A list of key questions or assumptions that need to be examined early in the work effort in order for the team to achieve the goal.

  • A prioritization of the key questions.

Why do it?

Most planning activities revolve around juggling a "shopping list of features,". Even though the features are delivered, often the business objective is not achieved.

Start At The End gives us a lightweight approach to put the business value at the center of our work and make sure that assumptions that could lead to failure are clearly identified for examination.

  • Start At The End is really easy and quick to facilitate, but often yields great results. It's a great technique for those new to facilitating workshops or sessions that are short on time.

  • This activity helps you and your team envision what the future will look like when you will reach success.


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Open Practice Library
An Open Source Outcome Driven Community
The Open Practice Library is an open source, community-driven inspired library of best practices and tools. It helps individuals, teams and entire businesses figure out the optimal ways to get to the best outcome.
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