Probably the best tool to Kick-Off ANY Workshop

A playful method that will create a valuable foundation whether you’re starting a new brand, going into a design project, or developing the next big campaign idea.

Method: Hot Air Balloon

Time: 50 Minutes

Roles: 1 Facilitator, 1 Timekeeper

Participants: 2–5

Materials: Whiteboard or Flipchart, Markers, Post-It’s


The hot air balloon is a metaphorical method that aims to identify strengths, weaknesses, external forces, stakeholders and goals all in a simple and well-structured process. The charm is that you’re not relying on another dull matrix but actually going through an imaginary journey that engages us to think outside of our typical thought patterns. Just gather all participants and collect their input step-by-step in the process.

1. Wind

These are all the external forces that can have an impact on the course of our hot air balloon no matter if they’re threats or opportunities. These typically encompass legislative, social or technological changes that we don’t have any control over.

2. Sandbags

The sandbags are all the internal challenges we are facing and the weaknesses that are literally dragging us down.

3. Hot Air

The hot air on the other side is all the strengths we have in our organization, our product, and anything that we have control over to give us a competitive advantage.

4. Passengers

These are all the internal stakeholders that have an influence on the direction of our hot air balloon and in this sense our project.

5. Observers

Observers are all the target audiences and users of our product or service that we are aiming to serve as well as external stakeholders that have an interest in our journey.

6. Paradise Island

This is the dream destination and goal that we are working towards in a 5 to 10-year timeframe. How does the future look like in our imagination?

7. Steps to take

This is the direction of our hot air balloon, the steps we need to take towards paradise island. Everything that we’re aware of today which we can do to reach and find our destination.

⚠️ Advice

Have a timekeeper stop the time of around 7 minutes per step and go through the method step by step. Have the participants stand in front of the whiteboard with post-it’s and pens to gather their input. Whenever someone has a post-it to share they should go up to the whiteboard and share it briefly with the group. Make sure you don’t end up in long conversations but collect a lot of input from all participants.

“We have just used the hot air balloon method for our project kick-off and I liked it from the first moment. The method allows to give a great overview in a structured, but still fun way. I can only recommend using this tool when kicking off a project.”

— Julia Handte, Business Development Manager