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Workshop Instructions

rUN A Workshop to Define an Opportunity:

1) Choose team roles.

Everyone is a Designer, and you’ll want to assign a Design Lead, who will keep the group on track, and a Note Taker, who will record group conversations.

Decide on these roles now. Ensure that young people who are participating are given the chance to take these roles, if they want.

2) Pass out materials. 

Each person gets a sticky note pad and a marker.

Design Lead: Make sure each person also has their completed Persona Mat visible.

3) Choose a need you want to focus on.

As a group, discuss the needs you identified while building personas. Decide on one need that you want to focus your design efforts on. This could be the need you're most excited about solving, or one that would have a big impact if solved. 

Note Taker: It may be helpful to record a short list of needs the group is interested in focusing on, so you can come back to them later. These can be written on separate sticky notes, so that they remain visible to the whole group.

4) Understand the root causes.

There can be a lot of underlying causes that result in an unmet need. It's important to understand these before we start looking for solutions. A quick way to explore a this is with the tool “Five Why’s”. It could be the difference between painting over water stains on the ceiling, and fixing the leaky roof.


a) Collectively rephrase the need in the form of a “Why” question. (That is, rephrase “Such-and-such is a need” as “Why is such-and-such happening?” or “Why is such-and-such need not being met?”) That’s your first 'Why' question.

b) Write the 'Why' question on a sticky note and post it on the wall. Have everyone answer the question on a sticky note and post their answers on the wall.

c) Vote on the answers to single out one that’s accurate, important and perhaps a bit mysterious. Rephrase the answer as a 'Why' question, write it on a sticky note and post it on the wall.

d) Repeat the cycle of answers, voting and rephrasing as a 'Why' question until the group agrees that you’ve gotten to the root of the problem. Five 'Why’s' are typically sufficient but sometimes you’ll hit on a root problem sooner, or to have to go a few extra rounds.

For each step, you are answering, voting, and then creating a new "Why" question.

For each step, you are answering, voting, and then creating a new "Why" question.

5) Choose the 'level' at which you want to solve the problem.

Sometimes, it makes sense to address the root cause of a problem, sometimes we're looking for a solution that will address one of the symptoms. Both options are valid, depending on your context and what feels manageable to your group. As a group, decide which level of 'Why' makes sense for your group to focus on. 

6) Generate HMW questions.

Once you've identified a problem, it helps to rephrase it as a question that invites possible solutions. One way to do this is by writing the problem as a question that starts with "How Might We...?" HMW questions help Designers view problems as opportunities.

Work together to rephrase your problem as a HMW question. You don’t have to rigidly follow this format, but you can use it as a helpful starter:

“HMW help young people meet [need]?”, or
"HMW address [problem] that's causing young people to have [unmet need]?"

After discussing, you might agree on one question as a group. Write this one down on a sticky note. If you come up with a few that your group is interested in, vote to narrow it down. 

Note Taker: Record all of the possible HMW questions you develop, so you can come back to them later if you want to.

7) Reflect.

Note Taker: Remember to jot down the responses of the team—reflections are often where some of the best learnings come to light. 

Design Lead: Read these questions out loud to the group and encourage people to share their answers aloud

a) What did you just do? 

b) What scares you about taking on this problem? What are you most excited about when it comes to exploring this problem?

c) What did you learn by digging into the root causes of the unmet need? Was there anything that surprised you?

d) What might you do differently next time you define an opportunity?

e) What more do we need to know about this need? Who might we want to involve in future workshops to get this additional information?

Congratulations—you’ve defined an opportunity!

Up next, you'll use the opportunity you've created to generate ideas and explore potential solutions.