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Hot Air Balloon

> Explore and brainstorm together

The hot air balloon is a fun activity to facilitate a forward planning brainstorming session: team members are admiring the magnificent landscape unfolding beneath their feet, when suddenly a cliff appears on the horizon! Everyone has to react quickly: which weights should be dropped first? Which burners should be activated to gain height? In short, how can the team have the best possible trip ?

Pre-requisites

Add a Metaphor activity to your Beekast session. Define the issue, choose the Hot Air Balloon format, and decide whether or not to personalise the predefined areas (see our advice in Suggestions and variations).

Remember to add a voting session if you want to follow up with a decision-making process and time management to keep the brainstorming from taking too long.

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Activity settings Metaphor

  • Vote: by Likes or Points
  • Activity background: Hot Air Balloon
  • Time management: optional

Process

1

Overview

Present the Hot Air Balloon activity to the group along with the issue and what is expected of them.

Make sure they understand the categories:
Strengths (the burners): what moves the team towards the objective(s)
Weaknesses (the weights): what hinders the team from reaching the objectives

Remind the group about the rules: no judging ideas suggested and no conversation during the exploration phase

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2

Exploration

Participants take five minutes to reflect on the topic. They then submit their ideas in the different categories. Estimate a time for this phase and end it either when the time is up or when participants stop sending in ideas.

3

Discussion

There are two methods for discussing the ideas put forward, which can be adjusted according to the size of your group:

- Method 1 - Small group : each participant quickly explains the ideas they suggested in each category.

- Method 2 - Larger group : go through each category with the participants and make sure each idea is understood by the whole group.

Group similar ideas together: keep just one idea and add a marker beside it to indicate that it was suggested multiple times. (Add a number or symbol counter, for example, ‘x 5’ or ‘***’.)

4

Selection

Once all ideas have been sent and ‘cleaned up’, you’ll have to select the most relevant ones in order to leave the meeting with an action plan.

If you have activated a voting session, you can launch it: ask your participants to vote for the ideas they think are most important to discuss.

For the weaknesses: what actions should be implemented to mitigate or even eliminate them? As for strengths, it may be interesting to consider what can still be improved.

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Suggestions and variations

The hot air balloon activity can also be used as part of continuing improvement work on your processes: 

The group, which is represented by the balloon, talks about the strengths that push it (the wind) and the weaknesses that slow it down (the weights) from reaching its objectives.

Be sure to try out the other visual brainstorming activities in Beekast to add variety to your sessions and avoid fatigue among your participants.

Check out the speedboat activity. It’s a good way to formulate a team's objectives and identify risks. Or use the rocket to discuss the methods to be implemented.

New
Activity Metaphor
30 to 60 min
2 to 50
Novice
Exploration
Forward planning while keeping an eye on the past
An excellent way of getting the team to see their recent work as part of an overall project and not as an isolated task