The charm is that you’re not relying on another dull matrix (like the SWOT) but actually going through an imaginary journey that engages us to think outside of our typical thought patterns. This will already help to take away some reservations with participants who are dreading another tireless SWOT analysis exercise. It is an interesting alternative (like the bus and adventure as well) to the more analytical/rational original team canvas.
Just gather all participants and collect their input step-by-step in the process.
Discourage long discussions and make clear a lot of input is preferred in this stage of the session.
What you can also do, is to have multiple smaller exercises (e.g. a purpose and culture exercise) and eventually bring them together onto the central visualization.
- Wind These are all the external forces that can have an impact on the course of our hot air balloon no matter if they’re threats or opportunities. These typically encompass legislative, social or technological changes that we don’t have any control over.
- Sandbags The sandbags are all the internal challenges we are facing and the weaknesses that are literally dragging us down.
- Hot Air The hot air on the other side are all the strengths we have in our organization, our product and anything that we have control over to give us a competitive advantage.
- Passengers These are all the internal stakeholders that have an influence on the direction of our hot air balloon and in this sense our project.
- Observers Observers are all the target audiences and users of our product or service that we are aiming to serve as well as external stakeholders that have an interest in our journey.
- Paradise Island This is the dream destination and goal that we are working towards in a 5 to 10 year timeframe. How does the future look like in our imagination?
An alternative is to see the wind as all the strengths we have in our organization, our product to give us a competitive advantage (the proverbial wind in our back) and to see hot air as the ‘fried air’, the bullsh*t surrounding your product or organisation, as an alternative for an exercise like the ‘stinky/smelly fish‘.
Make sure people are able to see each the Hot air balloon mapping. A large wall or whiteboard is usually best.
- Make sure you don’t end up in long conversations but collect a lot of input from all participants.