Hopes and Concerns

A warm-up activity that encourages teams to discuss their shared goals and worries.

Best For

Communicating openly in a safe environment

When to Use

At the beginning of a project

Hopes and Concerns: A great way to kick off a project or workshop

The Hopes and Concerns activity is an excellent way to start a meeting, workshop, or project. It is a Futurespective - a forward looking retrospective where teams can focus on their future goals and aspirations, and what will help or hinder them.

Team members are asked to open up and communicate what they’re optimistic or worried about. The goal is to surface potential issues and divergent expectations before the upcoming event or project. Any differences will become apparent and can be tackled before they have an impact.

This exercise uses two emotive labels to frame the contributions: "Hopes" and "Concerns". So in contributing their points, participants will not be drawing on facts alone, but from their own thoughts, experiences, ideas, hopes and tensions. This naturally creates a degree of vulnerability and connection between participants. Handled well, it will create a stronger bond between the individuals in the group.

How to run the Hopes and Concerns exercise

Set aside up to 30-60 minutes for this activity, depending on the number of participants.

1. Hopes - We recommend starting with the Hopes section, there are two reasons for this. One, it's easier to start with the positives, and two, the group can harness that collective positivity to address the Concerns raised.

2. Concerns - Move on to the Concerns next, allowing time for people to add their ideas. Review together.

3. Actions - Group the similar items and assess as a group. Prioritize the most important items, then devise actions and mitigations for them.

4. Follow up - Make sure the actions are followed through after the workshop.

Tips for running this session

  • This session can generate a lot of actions, allow time for this.
  • This exercise can also be called "Hopes and Fears", but words matter and we think that this exercise is better served by substituting the word "Fear" with the softer version, "Concern". There is much less of a barrier in professional settings to raising a concern, rather than a fear.
  • You can use this activity in your regular retrospective slot, perhaps if there is a big event coming up.

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