Provide participants with a flip chart, whiteboard or large sheet of butcher paper and marker, pens or other office supplies. Ask them to imagine their “worst nightmare” related to the product, service, system, or offering that you’re researching. For example, suppose you’re researching customer preferences in handyman or home repair services. In this case, you’d gather some homeowners and ask them to draw a caricature of their “worst nightmare” handyman or home repairman. Of course, their “worst nightmare” does not have to be an actual individual. It could be a monster or simply a collection of characteristics or attributes. Another example might be researching a sports drink designed for endurance athletes. A “worst nightmare” sports drink might induce vomiting, cause dehydration, or simply taste bad.
After the illustrations are complete, ask the participants to present their “worst nightmare” to the group. Encourage the group to listen for descriptions of positive and negative attributes or behaviors and surprising comments. If the “worst nightmare” is a person, consider how they frame roles and responsibilities. Besides allowing for a little psychological venting, the game’s structure and metaphor will produce key insights and pertinent issues so that you can create sweet dreams for your product.
The Nightmare Product Owner