Hack the way we start projects. Be yourself, be human, ask powerful questions and benefit from interdisciplinary wisdom.
The Project Canvas simply is "a sheet of paper, that serves as an invitation to talk". It may sound funny, but it's true! More than anything, the Project Canvas is an excuse to break away from daily routines and take the time to talk about a project.
Common Metaphor: What is actually "a project"? We asked more than 3,000 persons, from more than 50 professions and all continents, "how would you explain what a project is to a twelve-year-old?". Most people replied a "journey into the unknown". We visualized this journey and made it the basis of conversation.
- Simple Structure: Just the main eleven building blocks that describe any project: Team, Budget, Resources ("input"), Customer, Result, Quality ("output"), Context, Risks/Chances, Milestones ("transformation"), Time, and the Purpose of the project.
- Natural Language: Over three years, we aimed at shaping the language of the Project Canvas. We sorted out all terms that appeared to be specific for a particular profession, e.g. "user" (for IT), "scope" and "stakeholder" (for PM).
- Powerful Questions: During the same time, we searched for crucial "design questions" that help to map out any project. An amazing crowd of international people helped to co-create and shape these questions. The result is a deck of question cards which can be used to guide your project canvas session.
- Open Approach: The Project Canvas is applicable in agile projects (Scrum, etc.) as well as in traditional settings (Prince2, etc.).
- Compliant to PM Standards: Despite it's simple structure, the Project Canvas is in accordance with PMBoK Guide, PM3, DIN 69901, ISO 21500, and other standards. Therefore, project professionals can use the canvas to make "PM terminology" understandable for non-project professionals.
- Project IDEA Design: Many people have great ideas. But often, an idea is not enough to start an ambitious project. Usually, you want to think through your idea and map out related constraints and impacts, before you kick-off your venture. By means of the Project Canvas and a set of powerful questions, you can develop and visualize your first holistic picture of the project. This result is helpful to gain confidence, supporters and sponsors, and enter the next stage.
- Project PROPOSAL Design: Bigger projects need a sound preparation. The stage between the idea sketch and the actual start of the project is called "project description", "feasibility study", or "business case analysis". Not rarely, this stage is so comprehensive that it becomes an own project, a so-called "pre-project". The main result of such a pre-project is the "Project Design". Based on the mapped out Project Canvas, further project documents (like a Project Charter, etc) can be issued, and the project can start.
The Project Canvas is typically applied in workshop-like sessions. Effective workshop formats are as diverse as organizations and people, communication styles and cultures. The biggest challenge is to find an appropriate workshop format for your setting. For this, consider the following parameters:
- Type of group: project core team or with further stakeholders (customers, etc.)
- Number of persons: from very small teams to very big groups of 20 persons or more
- Way of facilitation: guided by an experienced facilitator or self-organized
- Duration: from one hour to a couple of days (in case of large-scale projects)
- Space of encounter: on-site or online
If you want to organize a Project Canvas workshop:
- Download the Project Canvas from the "Over the Fence" website (for free).
- Follow the handy tips given there.
- Respect the Creative Commons licence.
- Utilize the tool for your purposes.
- Have fun and great projects!
Project Design (Book Preview)