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Hopes and Fears

Learn and discuss each others’ hopes and fears before starting a project or on-boarding new team members.

When you might use this

The hopes and fears activity is an effective way to gauge participants’ attitudes about a project, workshop, or any other collaborative engagement. “Hopes” reveal your teams’ expectations about what can be accomplished. “Fears” reveal their doubts about making an investment to work together.



1. Set up the activity

On your whiteboard, large sticky pad, or virtual whiteboard, label one area for “Hopes,” and another for “Fears.”

Set up the activity, step 1

2. Capture hopes and fears

Have each team member write one hope or fear per sticky note, and apply it to the appropriate area of the map.

Capture hopes and fears, step 2

3. Play back, discuss, synthesize

Identify any emerging themes. What stands out? What hopes or fears do you share? Is there a sensitive topic or issue that’s worth bringing into the open for discussion?

Play back, discuss, synthesize, step 3

4. Let it persist

Keep the artifact posted where team members can see it. Refer back to it frequently to track progress. Place stars on hopes that are realized, and remove fears that melt away. Take time to address fears that persist too long.

Let it persist, step 4


Watch Devin O’Bryan, Enterprise Design Thinking Coach, share practical tips about Hopes and Fears.