Hopes and Fears

Reveal your team's expectations and doubts before starting a new journey
Contributed by

Cansu Kavili

Donna Benjamin

Published February 04, 2024

What Is Hopes and Fears?

Hopes and Fears is a practice used to discover the expectations, desires, and concerns of the team members and the stakeholders involved in the process. It aims to identify both positive aspirations (hopes) about what can be accomplished and potential challenges or apprehensions (fears) associated with the journey ahead.

Why Do Hopes and Fears?

By using Hopes and Fears, teams can proactively address potential challenges, and create a more focused and aligned approach to achieving the desired outcomes.

It takes the tension and uncertainty out of a project, by putting everything out in the open right from the start. It also gives each stakeholder time to voice and discuss what's most important to them.

Additionally, it cultivates team spirit as members share their ambitions, aspirations, and concerns, finding resonance and mutual understanding among each other.

How to do Hopes and Fears?

  1. The Hopes and Fears exercise works best when everyone is open and honest. The environment should be psychologically safe for the participants to share and discuss their hopes and fears. 
  2. Divide whiteboard, or virtual whiteboard, into two areas. Label one area for “Hopes,” and another for “Fears.”
  3. Have everybody write their hopes or fears to sticky notes (each note should feature just one Hope or Fear).
  4. Place the sticky notes on the appropriate area of the board.
  5. Playback and discuss. Identify emerging and common themes.
  6. Keep the artifact posted where the participants can see it. Refer back to it frequently to track progress and update the board. Celebrate the hopes that are realized, and remove fears that melt away. Make sure to address fears that persist too long.

Look at Hopes and Fears

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Hopes and Fears practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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