XIII. Understand your MISSION

MISSION Canvas — fast and concise tool to structure definition of your project
Dr. Albert Künstler

fleeting meeting in the face of the supreme lord is not enough, however, to fully realize the upcoming mission. Therefore, appoint a separate detailed conversation with noble business people and find the answers, or lack thereof, to the vital questions.

Tool: MISSION Canvas

Best for: Collaborative definition of the project goals and background

Required time: 20–60 minutes

Main result: Challenge-Question clarified — What exactly do we need to solve?

Secondary result: Criteria-Question clarified — How do we know that our solution is good? Communication-Question — How the work is going to be structured.

MISSION Canvas —a tool to structure all important information about your project.

MISSION canvas is a good companion to the previously discussed Decision-to-be-Made tool. While DTBM is sharply focused on the problem and the decision logic, MISSION canvas helps to collect information about the roadmaps, expectations, competition, strategy, outcomes, and communication.

oney and Milestones — ascertain how this quest brings money to the business. Being ignorant in this matter, you will not be able to prove the expected ROI. Understand the main milestones and expectations.

deas — discuss the ideas with your counterparts. They likely probed the problem earlier and can enlighten you about any unresolved issues. Bring your own ideas from competitors or research papers.

trategy — a broad view of the map will allow you to choose a side path if a direct approach ends up inapplicable. Know all the sponsors, their strategy, and gain their support.

quad and Skills — make it clear who is on your crew and what skills are missing. Make friends with advisors and business people who will contribute to the research.

nputs — your research and decision-making is based on data. Acquaint yourself with the sources, the quality, and restrictions and rules for gaining access.

utputs — the main output is most likely the Decision-to-be-Made which we touched upon, but it’s a good time to learn more and understand what kind of other outcomes are expected.

uances — nothing is simple as it may appear. Many unspoken reasons can ruin the Quest. Ask what can stand in the way of success and how to prepare accordingly.

Want to bring your AI project to the next level?

Avoid formal questioning during the meeting. It’s good when the activity of populating the canvas is collaborative. If you are leading a meeting, ask business people to add cards with competitor names, abbreviations, standards, or names of their team members. This will not only create an atmosphere of co-creation instead of a sense of interrogation, but will also allow you not to make the error of spelling some name or abbreviation incorrectly. Otherwise, such a card will hang as a symbol of shame for your incompetence, and you will not even suspect until the very end of the meeting. To prevent such embarrassing inconveniences from happening, ask someone on your team to double-check all new names and abbreviations during the meeting and replace misspelled cards as if by chance during the meeting. But it is even better to let the representatives of the business team add these cards themselves.

Keeping a MISSION Canvas up to date has many benefits. Together with DTBM, it will be extremely useful later when adding new people to the project, as it allows you to dive new team members into the mission in a short time without having to maintain exhaustive documentation.

No need to worry if during the meeting some of the questions remain unanswered. You simply stick the uncertainty cards right there on your canvas. You will be able to uncover these areas in the course of further research.