The Product Box from the Agile games line is a classic. It encourages teams to work together to summarize a large amount of information into a concise, tangible concept. It also transforms a dull meeting room into a lively and engaging space, just like a middle school classroom. A must-try for any team looking to spice up their workshops!

This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to facilitate a Product Box workshop and also includes a bonus by offering a free PDF template that can be downloaded. By following the instructions in the article and using the template, anyone can easily run a Product Box workshop and start making ideas tangible and concrete.

What is the "Product Box" or "Design the box" game.

Design the Box is a game developed by Bill Shakelford and popularized by Jim Highsmith, both of whom are considered "founding fathers" of the Agile method. This game is commonly used to help define the scope of an intangible concept such as a project, a strategic initiative or a new technology.

In the game, teams are tasked with imagining that their concept will be sold in a department store, just like any other everyday tangible product.

They then make key decisions about the product's identity, such as its name, slogan, logo, and three to four key selling points that will be featured on the front of the packaging. On the back of the packaging, they create a detailed description, including prerequisites and conditions of use.

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When should you use the Product Box ?

The Product Box is a tool that encourages teams to work together to summarize a large amount of information into a concise, manageable concept. The Product Box can be used in a variety of situations, including:

  1. Launching a new project or initiative
  2. Facilitating vision-oriented discussions
  3. Summarizing the output of a workshop
  4. Formalizing new strategies
  5. Sharing opinions and ideas with colleagues

Why is the Product Box such an effective tool?

By creating a product box, teams are forced to prioritize information, concentrate on the most important details, and work together to develop a clear and focused message.

The resulting product box is a tangible artifact, unlike a typical PowerPoint presentation, that can effectively communicate ideas to others and help build consensus and drive action.

How to facilitate a Product Box workshop?

The game consists of several phases that can be played by multiple teams of 3 to 7 participants. The facilitator begins by explaining the goals of the exercise: "Let's imagine that you have to sell...", and it's up to the team to specify what they will be selling.

Here are some guidelines for what should appear on the front and back of the box:

  • Front of packaging:
    • The name of the product and a memorable slogan.
    • Key arguments, benefits, and advantages of the "product".
  • Side of packaging: Detailed instructions for how to implement the project.
  • Top of packaging: Precautions, risks, and important points to focus on.

Stage 1. Brainstorm product box ideas

In this stage, participants are encouraged to discuss and generate alternative ideas for all the sides of their own product box. They write down their ideas on post-it notes and arrange them on the product box to share with the team.

Stage 2. Decide on which concept to materialize as a box

The facilitator then asks the participants to condense their ideas into three to four main concepts that the group agrees on or not. The post-it notes are reformulated and repositioned on the box by each team to create a more concise and focused concept for their product box.

Stage 3. Prepare to pitch you product box

Simply creating an innovative product is not enough, successful marketing is also crucial. Teams must be able to effectively sell their product and communicate its unique value. The teams are given a set amount of time to prepare their pitch, which is then limited to around two minutes. Timing the pitch increases the challenge and adds to the excitement of the game.

Stage 4. Pitch competition

Participants present their product box to the group and receive feedback through a vote or other means (e.g. show of hands, clapometer, etc.). A prize for the best sales pitch can be used to increase motivation.

Alternative ways to facilitate a Product Box workshop

Option 1 - High-tech: use a digital tool to capture deliverables, assess alternatives and make a decision

The Product Box is an excellent low-tech tool for generating various alternative concepts for a strategic initiative or a product launch. However, if you aim to take action, you need to make a decision on which concept to launch or allocate additional resources and time to validate it. Additionally, you may want to preserve all the great concepts generated during the workshop.

Enter Stormz and its powerful multicriteria evaluation feature. Here's how to use it:

Stage 1 to 3: create the box

Stages 1 to 3 remain the same. Then, complete the following additional stages:

Stage 3 Bis: Capturing the box in Stormz

While part of the team is preparing the pitch, one team member can capture the essence of the concept in Stormz.

Stage 4: Pitching competition and evaluation

As before, each box is pitched, but at the same time, participants evaluate the concepts along several criteria. These criteria can vary depending on the topic, but here's an example:

  1. Impact on the objective
  2. Implementation feasibility
  3. Financial viability

Participants can also provide ideas on how to improve the concept and make it more robust.

Stage 5: Next Steps

Based on the evaluation results, a decision is made on which concept should be pursued further and which concepts should be put on hold.

Option 2 - Low-cost: use a streamlined paper version of the game

The usual version of the game requires a few supplies like A4 cardboard boxes, scissors, glue, stickers, and of course, the imagination of your participants. It takes some logistical planning as the workshop lasts about 2 hours and requires one facilitator for groups of 6 to 12 participants max.

Good news! If you're lacking carton boxes or need to facilitate tens of participants, we've got you covered. Just print our pdf template to create a Product Box quickly and use it with more participants. Let's be honest, it won't be the same as with real boxes, but we've maintained the crucial elements that make the game special - including the storytelling aspect and the team-building benefits.

You can either download our free PDF template to print and create your own personalized version of the game, or you can choose to draw it yourself.

Have you facilitated a Product Box in one of your workshops?

We'd love to know more about your experience, send us your feedback and photos of the best product boxes.

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