Step 1. Brainstorm Assumptions

1. Your simulation project: Acme Composites

Understand the Minesweeper process by following a fictitious project team's development of a new packaging product.

Before your team embarks on its project de-risking, it can help to see a demonstration project… to get the big picture. We’ve provided that with a simulation booklet called, “Acme Composites Packaging,” which you can download at or > Minesweeper tab.

This simulation follows the path of a fictional company that already has capabilities for combining recycled plastic and wood fibers to manufacture outdoor decking. Now it wants to explore the use of this composite technology to produce corrugated packaging… such as Amazon would use to ship merchandise. It is hoping its new packaging material would improve water resistance, stacking strength, and abrasion resistance. And hoping customers wanted these features.

The Acme simulation follows the project team’s progress over the span of one year. For the first three months, the team is formed, conducts secondary market research, segments its markets, and prepares for its Minesweeper de-risking workshop.

In April, the team holds a one-or-two day de-risking workshop during which it covers 7 steps:

  1. Brainstorm assumptions
  2. Create consumption chain
  3. Set individual ratings
  4. Resolve team ratings
  5. Review Certainty Matrices
  6. Create CheckPoint plan
  7. Prepare initial management report

During the rest of the year, the team is primarily pursuing its CheckPoint plan. That is, team members are investigating the assumptions that have been assigned to them, learning more and driving each from uncertainty to certainty.

Many of the activities shown in this illustration, e.g. Discovery and Preference interviews, are part of the New Product Blueprinting process and not included per se in Minesweeper de-risking. Blueprinting is very useful for understanding customer needs in B2B markets. But Minesweeper de-risking isn’t limited to B2B markets. You’ll likely use customer insight methods other than Blueprinting interviews for B2C end-consumer markets.

Acme Simulation Timeline

If your team is using the Minesweeper methodology to de-risk a project, you’ll conduct these same 7 “April” steps in a workshop setting together. Your team doesn’t have to meet in-person: A web-conference based meeting is fine for this.

If this is your first project de-risking, you should engage a facilitator that has been trained and qualified by The AIM Institute for this. (Contact for details.) The process is not complex, but there are certain pitfalls you need to be aware of and guided past by using such a facilitator.


Keywords: simulation project, Acme Composites Packaging, 7 seven steps, brainstorm assumptions, consumption chain, individual ratings, team ratings, certainty matrices, CheckPoint plan, management report