Day 2 Imagining a High Level To Be3

Day 2 Imagining a High Level To Be

Everyone survived the first day and you’re excited to keep going. Day 2 is the fun “what could be” day. The day when anything goes.

The goal of the second day is to explore what the broader solution space could look like before we move more into the detailed solution the following day. You’ll look at different ways to solve the problems and achieve the objectives you identified the day before.

The perspective for the second day of the sprint is broad and shallow. In comparison, the following day you’ll be sketching out the detailed interactions of a small number of ideas. It’s like exploring what kind of house you might want to build and where you might want it to be located before picking out the finishes.

This high-level view is an important step to complete before moving onto the details. Here’s how it helps:

  • Provides context: This day provides context for the team so they know where each individual screen, interaction, or product detail could relate to other user types, business processes, groups, or technologies that might be involved later on. That can help everyone design a solution that will be flexible or scalable enough for future changes.
  • Aids focus: Spending the morning doing a brain dump of all of the great ideas your team has been thinking about will help them focus. Instead of using their limited short-term memory capacity to remember and pitch their ideas, it will all be physically captured and shared. That frees up some mental capacity for everyone to look at the solution space holistically and think about what would be best to work on right now. The idea organization and rating activities will also help team members understand why certain concepts were selected for further elaboration and others were deferred.
  • Informs future sprints: The good news is that once you do the first sprint, you’ve got a head start for the next one on that topic. You’ll only have time to create one or two prototypes in a week, but the ideas generated during this day are great material for adding to a roadmap, business model playbook, and for exploring further and prototyping in a future sprint.


Scheduling options

There are some scheduling options for this phase, and the choice depends on the types of stakeholders you’re working with, how many you have, and how much time they can commit.

  • 2-hour session with stakeholders followed by extended sessions with only the core team. If you have limited time to spend with some of your stakeholders, holding a shorter session can be a good way to gather their ideas about what could be. A simple method is just to collect ideas in an excel spreadsheet during a teleconference. Mark the ideas that contribute to the success criteria and then let them know that those ideas will be looked at the most when the team goes back to storyboard concepts. Then the core team can continue ideating by themselves for the rest of the day and check back in with the stakeholders later in the week. This structure helps gauge stakeholder willingness to change and can unlock great ideas that might not have been part of the original request. It’s also a minimal time commitment from stakeholders and can be a better option if you have a large number of stakeholders to consult with.
  • Full day with everyone. This works well if you can have a smaller set of stakeholders participating throughout the day. Having them sketch out and organize ideas with you is a great way to promote team bonding and for them to see how decisions are made and what else was discussed. This works better with stakeholders who have already “drunk the kool-aid” and are supportive of your process. If you anticipate any stakeholders being hostile or antsy, it’s better to just conduct a short session with them and have the rest of the team generate ideas to share later. A positive environment where everyone is contributing will be worth it. This is the structure we’ll cover in more depth below.


Outline of the full day

A sample agenda for a full-day meeting about the to-be state:

Day 2: High-Level To-Be

  • To-be ideas (2 hr)
  • Break (10 min)
  • Idea organization (2 hrs)
  • Lunch break (1 hr)
  • Idea rating (2 hrs)
  • Break (10 min)
  • To-be customer journey (1 hr)
  • To-be system (1 hr)


To-be ideas

Participants should be familiar with the sprint structure by now so the introduction to this day can be shorter. Just share the agenda and outputs for the day and jump into the first exercise.

Step 1) Silent review of the materials

As people are arriving and getting settled in, encourage them to refresh their memories by silently reviewing the work you all did the day before. That information may still be up on the walls, in photos on a wiki, or sent via email to remote participants. If you forgot to take pictures on the first day, make sure you snap some shots before the activities start, just in case sticky notes are moved around.

Step 2) Explain the exercise

When everyone’s settled in, explain to the group that they’ll have a set amount of time to generate ideas of ways to solve the problems you identified. 1-2 hours is a good amount of time to get a lot of ideas on paper.

Encourage people to come up with at least 5-10 ideas. That target will push them to move beyond the first concept. As they go they might realize that it gets a lot easier to come up with new ideas and may easily exceed the target.

At this stage, all ideas are welcome, from small tweaks to huge changes, and feasibility should not be a factor. Ensure participants that there are no bad ideas and that this is their chance to write down anything they’ve been thinking about related to this topic. If you want to make sure that certain areas are covered, try splitting up the group in two and having each group focus on a different topic, such as the experience of different customer segments.

If people seem hesitant, share these tips for ways to generate ideas:

  • People focused: Encourage participants to follow one of the users or business stakeholders through the process and generate ideas that would add value from that person’s perspective.
  • Process focused: Encourage participants to follow a process or journey that you’ve discussed and to think about ways to improve it.
  • Technology focused: Think about ways to leverage technologies, off-the-shelf products, or techniques within or outside of your organization.
  • Blue sky: Don’t be constrained by what currently exists at all and think about how you would design the ideal to-be state if you were completely in charge. (This includes the ability to make policy changes.)
  • Competition/outside inspiration: Look to other organizations, groups, or industries for inspiration that could be applied to your situation.


Step 3) Distribute materials

Pass out these physical templates to people in the room. Encourage them to sketch drawings or models to complement the text description. For people on the phone, if they’re used to sketching then try having them print out their own templates and sending over photos of their sketches. An alternative (and easier) method is to have them fill out an excel template which they can email over at the end of the silent brainstorming session.

Idea generation template printed

Printing tip: Double check to make sure that your setting is on “actual size” instead of “fit”. That will give you templates with smaller margins and more room for writing.

Printing Idea Generation Template

Step 4) Silent individual idea generation

During this step, everyone brainstorms ideas by themselves. Keep going until time is up or you notice people starting to run out of ideas and getting restless. Encourage people to walk around the room and review old information or ideas created by their peers for inspiration.

After participants create a stack of ideas, have them silently post them up on a wall.


Idea organization

Ask people who finished the previous step early to help organize the ideas. There are no set ways to group the ideas, just ask them to organize them into whatever categories make sense to them and see what emerges.

When everyone has completed the idea generation task, walk through each cluster of ideas as a group. Discuss the general theme and read out examples of the ideas in that theme. Add any new ideas or mark down questions if the conversation sparks them. Don’t be afraid to re-organize themes or move sticky notes between themes if needed.

For the online participants, have them share their ideas out loud, and write them down on paper so that they can be organized alongside the paper concepts. A webcam pointed at the whiteboard is super effective for remote engagement and comprehension.

This step may sound really time-consuming (and it is when you have a lot of ideas) but it’s very helpful for sharing information, and uncovering doubts and possibilities. It can help with team bonding by showcasing similar ideas and highlighting the creativity of the group. The themes that emerge will also be helpful when prioritizing and creating roadmaps later on. Keeping this section timeboxed will help you keep it moving quickly.


Idea rating

Depending on the number of ideas that you have, you might need to do this part in two steps, first at the theme level, and then rating the ideas within each theme.

There are two ways to approach this:

  • If you have a shorter list of ideas (less than 30): Mark the ideas that contribute towards your success criteria. This allows a smaller subset to become the focus without forgetting about the possibility of future enhancements.
  • If you have an unwieldy amount of ideas (expect over 100 if you have a group of 10-15 people): Follow the process below.


Step 1) Organize themes and discuss

Have people physically organize them into categories and discuss the themes (described in the previous step).

Step 2) Conduct dot voting

Grab your dot stickers and assign three different colors to represent customer value, business value, and opportunity enablement (ex. blue = customer value, green = business value, red= opportunity enablement). Hand out three stickers of each color to each participant. Ask them to place their blue dots next to the theme that will contribute greatest to customer value. Same with their green dots and business value, and red dots and opportunity enablement. If they think that one theme is better than all of the rest they are free to put all of their dots on that choice. The determination of value should be based on the profiles and success criteria that you created on the first day.

Step 3) Discuss voting results

After all the dots are up, discuss the results and reasoning behind them as a group.

Step 4) Organize ideas within themes

If the themes are too ambiguous, ask participants to further organize the ideas within the themes. Otherwise, skip to Step 6. Your goal by the end of the day is to end up with something defined enough to clarify what you want to storyboard the following day. Ex. an “apply” category may need to be broken down to highlight the different opportunities for improving the application experience.

Step 5) Conduct dot voting (Part II)

Do the dot voting exercise again, this time voting on the value added by the ideas within each group. Give people three dots in each color.

Step 6) Plot value vs. complexity

Plot out the highest scoring ideas on a value vs. complexity chart. Which ones are high value and low complexity? Those will most likely be part of your minimum viable product (MVP). High value and high complexity? This longer term solution may need to be broken down into phases, building towards the end state.


To-be customer journey

It’s getting to the end of the day and your walls will be covered with ideas. Many of those will live in the archives and reappear in future sprints. You’ve highlighted the ones that will provide the highest value with low complexity, and highest value with high complexity. It’s helpful to close out with some agreement on what this means for the to-be customer journey. This journey will be sketched and further refined in the storyboarding stage the following day.

Creating a to-be customer journey also provides a simple way to reference back to the pain points, problems, and success criteria that you developed earlier to evaluate if you’re moving in the right direction. Hopefully, you’ll see a lot of happy moments replacing the previously painful ones.

If your MVP and longer term solutions look drastically different then you might need to create two versions of the customer journey. Refer back to Day 1: Surveying the as-is landscape for more information about how to approach making a customer journey.

Close out the exercise by discussing as a group how this change could help contribute to the success criteria. This is a very important step. It’s like solving for a variable and plugging it back into the equation to make sure that you solved it correctly.


To-be system

You may run out of time for this step, in which case you can sketch it out when you have free time during the storyboarding or prototyping days.

The as-is system map helped express relationships in the system and highlighted issues and opportunities. A to-be system map can provide a condensed visual of concepts that might be living on hundreds of scraps of paper. For example, if you’re moving from a decentralized system to a centralized one (or vice versa), a quick model can help clarify what that represents from a people, process, and technology perspective.

The goal of the day is to leave with artifacts from your exploration of the to-be space, including your value vs. complexity chart, customer journey, and high-level system map. Those documents will highlight concepts that represent your MVP and longer-term vision. Those will be the two concepts that the teams will elaborate further the following day. Don’t forget to save everything else though, because the rest of the ideas will come back into play when we talk about roadmapping.



Once again, do a quick recap of what the team accomplished that day and a preview of what’s to come. Make sure notes are captured and shared either via a wiki or email so that everyone has copies to review before the next meeting or whenever they need it. If you won’t have the whole team participating in the rest of the sprint, remind your stakeholders what the team will be working on for the rest of the week and when you’ll check in next. Then go and relax for the night because you’ve earned it.


Next steps

You’ve learned about why Enterprise Design Sprints are useful, how to pick a great topic, and what to expect on the first two days. The next post in the series will be about the third day of the sprint, “Detailed To-Be.”

Update: This blog series about Enterprise Design Sprints has been expanded into a guide for facilitators with all of the content, plus 50+ worksheets and some other surprises. Check it out in the store. 

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