Workshops can be a great way to derive a solution for a particular challenge that requires interdepartmental input. When executed properly, workshops generate the most creative solutions; but when done wrong, could become a massive time waster for everyone. Get the most out of your colleagues by learning the strategies for a successful workshop session.
Prepare for the Session
Don’t just send out an email blast for the time and schedule of your planned workshop and hope for the best during the session. Although the workshop is more of a means to an end, it does require some preparation to maximise its output. Select a venue that allows for flexibility where everyone can stand up and move around.
You could also purchase name badges to avoid awkward situations. Prepare supplies like pens, a whiteboard and lots of sticky paper that allows for collaborative mind maps. As much as possible, plan workshops early and avoid an after-lunch session where people typically experience a post-meal afternoon slump.
Set the Agenda and Workshop Goals
State the challenge at the start of the session. Don’t just tell everyone the issue at hand. Express what is needed to be accomplished by the end of the workshop. You will need to be clear on the goals and agenda early on even before the session so that you can include it in the workshop invitation. This will allow colleagues to let ideas percolate before the workshop commences.
Set the Stage for Brainstorming
On workshop day, after discussing the current business challenges, goals to be met and the agenda for the session set the stage for effective brainstorming.
Facilitators should remain neutral and objective. Let senior colleagues talk last to avoid influencing the direction of the discussion. Encourage some colleagues to recognise flaws the rest might miss. Facilitate debate first where everyone comes up with the best possible solutions. Then you can find the best solution appropriate for the challenges.
A workshop is mainly a tool towards finding solutions to challenges a company faces, but it does require some preparation and skill to maximise the benefit of the session. With these strategies, you can plan and direct workshops effectively for a most productive outcome.