Workshop in action

Many organizations say they are customer-focused, but are they really? Are they delivering the right products and services to their customers? Do they understand what end-users need versus what they want? Do they really know their audience and their journeys?

And what about the product teams? Do they know who their competition is and if what they're building is better? Are they aligned not just on how to build the product, but why?

I plan and run workshops that answer these questions.

Workshop Planning

I love connecting with real people and facilitating activities that bring groups together to solve problems. Workshops can be a lot of fun, but you must put the work in first. Proper planning enables high-performing teams to imagine possibilities and properly take action. Pre-workshop activities start with understanding goals and developing a problem statement. If we understand who and what we’re trying to solve for, we can focus on what success looks like and properly plan activities to get us there.

Pre-planning actives include:

  • Identify workshop goals and purpose
  • Understand the challenge
  • Pin-down key participants
  • Prepare pre-workshop participant "homework"
  • Determine roles, prepare agenda and activities
  • Plan logistics for in-person (room, meals, projector, stickies)
  • Schedule white-board onboarding/training for virtual workshops
  • Set schedules and send invites

"Design used to be the seasoning you’d sprinkle on for taste; now it’s the flour you need at the start of the recipe."

— John Maeda

Workshop Facilitation

We've set expectation and prepared an agenda. But even if participants come prepared, we also want them to think creatively, be open to new ideas, and participating.

Begin with an ice-breaker. It’s an easy activity for everyone and should make them feel comfortable and safe. It also eases them into actively participating and sketching. In a workshop, you may not always get at answers right away, or even at all. When something doesn’t work, move on and try something else so as not to stymie creativity or the flow of ideas. Workshops should be a place where you can experiment, "think outside the box", and collaborate with cross-functional teams.

Pro Tips: Find the balance between keeping to the agenda, and participant creativity. Use voting to keep momentum. Vary your exercises and try to make them take the same form as the end product. For example, if you are testing a service, you could use role playing or storyboarding to think like the users and the journey they take. You can prototype for a web interface using paper prototypes to navigate through pages. A quick sketch is sometimes the best solution.

Facilitation actives include:

  • Final technology checks
  • Build participant rapport and make them feel comfortable
  • Introduction, agenda, and ice-breaker
  • Run activities
  • Document workshop artifacts
  • Keep to the schedule and Keep it Fun

a design process

"Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible"

— Donald A. Norman

Post-Workshop Analysis

a design process

Once the workshop facilitation has ended and the participants are on their way home, the real work begins. We take our key learnings and map these to a roadmap solution for our product teams.

Post-Workshop activities include:

  • Synthesize and analyze key workshop learnings
  • Prepare analysis and report(s)
  • Map solutions to feature development
  • Enjoy your favorite adult beverage!