What is an Inception?

Before the Inception

Some research and development has happened, e.g.

No code has been written

Resources and time have been allocated for a short project

Inception Goals

Optional Inception Goals

Inception Anti-Goals

Inception Schedule

Sample Inception Schedule

sample schedule

from Pivotal Labs

Project Goals

Team goals

Project Non-Goals

Project Risks

Based off

Team Risks

How do we want to work?

Elevator Pitch

Play the Mad Libs Pitch Game!

An elevator pitch is a concise, clear, persuasive explanation of a product that can be told in the time it would take to ride an elevator.

Split into small groups and within each group, brainstorm to fill in the following template:

For ______ who need ___, the ___ is a ______ that ___. Unlike _, our product ____.

Then select a spokesperson to share your result with the group. If time allows, collaborate to create a consensus pitch statement.

Elevator Pitch Example

elevator pitch


Mission Statement Game

Consensus is hard; concise consensus is a miracle.

Here are some mission statements from 50 non-profit organizations, sorted from shortest to longest. See how much more poignant the short ones are!


example persona



Persona Details

Persona Sections

After creating the personas, you can start applying them to the system you're designing, e.g...

Marketing Plan

Roles and Activities

Story Mapping

"The goal isn’t to get all the cards created, but to establish a rhythm of story creation."

Story Mapping Example

Winninpeg Example Story Map


(For more see the Planning lesson.)

Story Body Template

Story titles should be brief and imperative; story bodies should follow this pattern:

AS A ____      [role or persona]
I WANT TO ____ [action or goal]
SO THAT ___    [value or motivation]


Sort By Price
As a customer, I want to sort the matching cars by price, so that I can see the best deal.

Acceptance Criteria Template

Generally a single story has several acceptance criteria, which are often written following this pattern:

GIVEN ____    [precondition or scenario]
WHEN ____     [the user does something, or something interesting happens]
THEN ____     [the system is in this state, or responds in this way]


GIVEN I have $100 in my bank account,
WHEN I attempt to withdraw $200,
THEN the bank should reject the transaction
AND I should still have $100 in my account



Story Mapping Order

  1. Write Story Titles
  2. Organize Stories into Epics
  3. Prioritize Stories under Epics
  4. Write Stories
  5. Estimate Stories
  6. Prioritize Stories into a Backlog (across Epics)

Advice for Facilitators

(for Story Mapping or any planning or retrospective workshop)

Iteration Zero

Recurring Meetings

Inceptions are a great place to establish the regular rhythm of the project, as punctuated by recurring meetings.

Next Steps

Retrospective & Closing

Party Time!


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