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Dave Hewett
Dave Hewett Engagement Lead

Our Thinking Fri 6th March, 2020

Introducing the Inception Playbook

Over the past few years, running inceptions has become the default pattern for kicking off new development initiatives within Equal Experts.

We find that running inceptions offers the team and the wider stakeholder group a foundation from which to kick off a new piece of development, which gives it the best chance of being successful in the months that follow. 

When we first started formalising the inception process, we found that although we had many very experienced practitioners at Equal Experts, there wasn’t a consistent approach to running inceptions. Unlike earlier stages in the product lifecycle, for which tools like “Design Thinking” exist, the processes that are required to kick off a delivery still didn’t have a common language or framework.  

Our Inception Playbook is our attempt to provide that generic blueprint for knowledge-sharing and inspiration, and it is a starting point for teams that want to kick off a new development initiative on the right footing. 

Who it is for

Early on, we decided that we wanted to cater to a wide range of users: starting with practitioners who have never run or participated in an inception through to those who regularly perform them but want some tools that allow better planning and maybe a sprinkle of inspiration. We also felt that clients might be interested in framing what Equal Experts mean by ‘running inception’ and provide a helpful ‘leave behind’ post inception; so they can be more effective in kicking off projects in the future.  This has already extended to our clients taking this as a blueprint for building their own Inception capability in house. 

How it can help you

  • If you have never run an Inception before, this is a ‘training’ manual to peruse.
  • If you have run an Inception before, but need a refresher, this is your reference.
  • If you are a seasoned Inceptionist and need practical support, the agenda, schedule blueprints, and cheat sheets are your starter for ten. 

What can you expect from our Inception playbook?

Based on the feedback we have received, we believe our first public release is valuable; it has depth, relevant details and can be used both as a training document and a practical guide.

It is reasonably polished in the sense that we have done some basic copy editing and design. We have an on-screen PDF-version alongside a digital version both of which are located here

What it is about

It is worth noting that the playbook is a game plan in the sense that it is not a recipe for a single activity but an orchestration (and supporting tips, tricks and detail) of a large number of activities that altogether make up a successful Inception.

The playbook touches on topics such as

What it is not about

Discoveries. Early in our writing, we found that there are two types of beginnings:

One is where we have a vague idea of some product or service that may provide value but are not sure about whether this is true or how this should take shape. In these cases, we would start with what we have decided to call Discovery: top-level analysis, research, hypothesis formulation and experiment to solidify the value proposition. This is very much about exploration.

Once this is clear, i.e., we have a relatively solid idea of the shape of our initiative, we now want to ensure that we are set up for success and can hit the ground running, so we do an Inception. An Inception is about validation (rather than exploration), aligning and defining (at the highest level). To be clear, we can still do all the good, lean stuff like experiment during Inception or during the actual delivery, but we will do so within the scope of delivery rather than at the level of rationale of that initiative.

In the most basic terms, Discoveries are about doing the right thing while Inceptions are about doing it right.

Our playbook ONLY covers Inceptions.

Contact us! 

We hope you find this playbook useful. If you’ve used it to run an Inception or have feedback of any flavour, we’d love to hear from you. We offer training on Inceptions, and, of course, we are pretty good at delivering software. 

‌Share thoughts, ask for updates, templates and other information, or get in touch if you are interested in working with us, at