The WOOP Method: Create better product and project goals

The WOOP Method: Create better product and project goals

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As a business owner or product manager, you need to be able to share your vision: the more precise you communicate your goal, the better your team will understand the direction and is able to give their best effort to achieve this goal.
If a goal is too fuzzy, it become difficult to communicate. I come across a lot of project briefs or product visions that are very vague and therefore hard to turn into specific action items.

This little model from psychology might help you to define your goals better so you can share them more clearly.

WOOP – a mental strategy tool

WOOP is a 4-step process developed by the psychologist Gabriele Oettingen (Her latest book: Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation)

It stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan.

The theory behind this tool is: it’s not enough to focus on positive outcomes or goals. You also need to have plan of how to get there – and therefore understand what is holding you up from achieving your ideal state.

The 4 steps in this process are:

  1. Wish: Define a goal that you want to accomplish.
  2. Outcome: Visualize the outcome that would result from your goal
  3. Obstacle: Define obstacles that are preventing you from achieving your goal
  4. Plan: Make a plan for overcoming your obstacles

While the process is meant to help with personal goals, it is also a useful tool for project planning or product management.

Using WOOP for product management

Next time you are defining a project goal pr your product vision, use the 4 steps of the WOOP process:

1 Wish (vision)

Define your project/ product/ business goal:
What do you want to accomplish?

This could be:

  • Increasing sales/ revenue
  • Gaining more customers/ building a customer base
  • Introducing a new product/ feature

2 Outcome:

Define the results of your goal: What do you want the outcome to be? Why is this goal important? Include your customers here as well: What does this goal mean for your customers? How do you want them to feel? Try to be as clear and detailed as possible with envisioning your outcome.


  • I want to increase my sales so I can grow my company and sell more items. My customers should have a variety of products to choose from, subscribe to items to get them delivered regularly and receive monthly updates about new campaigns.

3 Obstacle

This is a very relevant step that will help you to define your ACTUAL project. This is where clarity comes from. Ask yourself: why have I not yet accomplished my goal? What is in the way and holding me back from getting my desired outcome?


  • We don’t have a lot of product variety yet, but know the categories we want to expand to.
  • We don’t have a subscription system set up yet and our inventory system is not set up for such a system.
  • Our creative department is busy and can’t deliver all the materials for the campaigns in time.

4 Plan

Et voilà. Now you see your obstacles, your roadblocks that you need to fix. Which makes planning so much easier. Instead of starting a project to “increase sales” you can plan for specific initiatives and communicate clearly with your team:

  • Update the navigation and the filter with the new/ future product categories
  • Improve or change the inventory system to allow for subscriptions; investigate in the best subscription service that we want to use.
  • Expand the creative department to allow for better support for campaign assets; redefine priorities of the creative department.

Using WOOP will help you to gain more clarity and therefore communicate your goals and desired outcomes better with your team. Give it a try – and let me know how it worked for you.