The workshops I have facilitated were oftentimes part of bigger, long-term partnership with clients. The goal of these workshops were oftentimes twofold:
1. Bringing together expertise from different backgrounds
2. Generating ideas fast to get a head start in a project or use case.
Workshops are a great opportunity for me to do what I love to do the most: to inspire people and learn together. I truly enjoy to guide people through their creative process and encourage them to think beyond their initial ideas.
I am quite a pragmatic and analytical person. Before I do anything, I collect as much (qualitative and quantitative) data as possible and ask myself what the purpose and goals of a workshop are. These are some of the questions I ask myself when planning a workshop:
→ What problem should this workshop solve?
→ What expertise would be beneficial for this workshop?
→ Who are the people attending the workshop?
→ Where will the workshop take place?
→ What will success look like?
→ Which exercises and methods would support the goal of the workshop?
I find it incredibly important to reach a common understanding and enable everyone in the room to share their expertise. Therefore I always try to match the workshop's focus and exercises on the participants.
When facilitating a workshop with people that are not familiar to Design Thinking practices, I make sure to add some exercises that are encouraging and easy to understand. On the other hand, when I'm running a workshop with designers, I take the opportunity to dive deep and really use the design skills and knowledge in the room. These are some of the questions I ask myself whilst facilitating a workshop:
→ Is the goal of my exercises clear?
→ Do people feel encouraged or intimidated by the workshop?
→ How can I give everyone in the room a platform to speak their mind freely?
To kick-off projects with a new team, align existing teams or even introduce new members, I love to facilitate kick-off workshops.
For these workshops I use the Team Canvas, which focuses on defining common goals, rules and activities. Besides that, it helps the team to refine the role each member has as well as its strengths and risks.
Customer Journey Workshops are one of my favorite workshops to do with stakeholders, as it is a great way to build a common understanding of the customer and gives stakeholders the opportunity to share their expertise and ask questions. It can also be a great way to identify and define product features.
The main topics I focus on during Customer Journey Workshops are the context (time and place), jobs-to-be-done, emotions and feelings, pains and gains and possible feature ideas.
For these kind of workshops, it's important that extensive user research is available to make the journey is realistic as possible.
The Value Proposition Canvas is like the little sister of the Business Model Canvas. It's customer-oriented and offers a great way to match products and services with customer needs and wishes. That's why this workshop is really a must to kick-off a project, because it helps you identify the most important jobs-to-be-done, pains and gains in a customer segment. It also shows where products and services can generate value for customers by solving problems or offering benefits.
I've run a lot of Value Proposition Canvas workshops, both externally with clients as well as internally to educate fellow designers. For stakeholders, this is a good exercise because it shows them where their products and services offer unique value propositions and where there are gaps in the understanding of their market. For designers, this workshop is extremely valueable because it visualizes the importance of understanding businesses. It shows directly how the features you design eleviate problems users are facing or offer unexpected value for them.
Ideation Workshops are easily my favorite kind of workshops to run, because these are the kind of workshops where new and innovative ideas are born. To make this kind of workshop successful I follow the Double-Diamond principle and divide my workshop in two parts:
1. Quantity: Generating as many ideas as possible
2. Quality: Selecting the ideas with the most potential and finding solutions
I do acknowledge that the highly interactive character of this kind of workshop might intimidate people. Especially those that claim "they're not creative". I believe everyone is creative and with the right exercises and methods this creativity can be sparked.
I use a combination of Design Thinking and Design Sprint methods and customise each workshop to its needs. There are many toolkits available that I love using, like the IDEO Design Kit, Sprint with Google, Board of Innovation Toolkit or Hyper Island Toolbox. These ones are a staple in my own toolkit:
This is a super easy exercise to get people in the right mindset. A mindset that encourages "thinking outside the box" ideas, active listening and building upon each other's input.
All participants sit in a circle. One person start with an idea, this can be related to the project but can also be completely random. The next person repeats the idea and builds upon it be answering "Yes and..."
Person 1: "Let's go to the beach"
Person 2: "Yes, let's go to the beach and ride a banana boat"
Person 2: "Yes, let's ride a banana boat and go to a deserted island"
I particularly enjoy this exercise when working with stakeholders from different background. Lightning Talks are compact, 10-minute talks where an expert shares his or her knowledge with the rest of the group. There is no need for a fancy presentation, just sharing your experiences and insights from previous projects can already be of huge value to kick-off a workshop.
Brain Writing / Round Robin
As a fellow-up exercise to the Lightning Talks, I enjoy Brain Writing or Round Robin. This exercise gives the participants the opporunity to first come up with ideas alone and then build upon each other's ideas. Again, participants sit in a circle and write their idea on a post-it. They then exchange their post-it with the person sitting left from them, who adds to their idea. This is repeated until the post-it went full circle.
An absolute classic in ideation workshops and in my opinion - it has every right to be! This exercise is quick, challenges people to think beyond their first idea and avoids them from getting lost in the details.
Idea Bazaar and Solution Sketches
The Idea Bazaar allows people to present their ideas and get inspired from each other. Participants first get around 15-30 mins to work out ideas on the topic of the workshop. This can be by sketching, building with lego blocks, creating a paper prototype - whatever means works best to communicate an idea. Afterwards, everyone presents their ideas on a wall and the participants can walk around the "idea bazaar" to gain inspirations from other ideas.