I wonder if I can ask for your advice on something? Over the last few months, I’ve been asked to do more workshops and I could use your advice on designing a format and structure that would work best.
While a speaker’s job is to passionately share their ideas, workshops are about applying ideas in a specific context and towards solving a specific situation. For example, if a General Manager wanted to do more open innovation but was struggling to have the organization be more “open”, then together we would discuss what that looks like now, what the team imagines it would look like and work through the specific cultural and strategic shifts. Or, if a CMO wanted their organization to be more purposeful in their work, we might first start with what role purpose plays in the Social Era and then brainstorm together what the shared purpose could be and how to test that hypothesis. Workshops are a private and safe way for a set of leaders or colleagues to talk through things they wouldn’t necessarily want in a more public forum.
For someone like me, for whom real business problems are like a bone to a dog, this is a great way to work with teams. Workshops let me bring my 20 plus years of operating experience to bear – solving real and present problems (without going back to being a consultant). And compared to many other speakers who are academics, etc this is a perfect use of my time.
One of my speakers bureau has been expanding their offering to include workshops and of course, we’ve done a few so far. For each one, we’ve been customizing the situation. I thought I could share what is (generically) done so far and ask for what you think is missing or needs to be tuned. This will “standardize” the offer at least in terms of structure — for others. The whole point of doing a workshop is to customize it for the situation at hand. In the interest of creating along side others, I thought given that so many of you face and have real-life situations, you could critically assess how a workshop should best be structured to maximize impact (measured by value delivered and shift achieved over least painful and shortest period of time).
- Background that organization shares to provide context is devoured.
- Consult (up to an hour) of their current business. I dig around and ask questions, to figure out which thing needs to be addressed first, because quite often just framing the question well is key to creating the shift.
- Of course, content is created and customized to frame that topic for that business/ group / situation. I can use content I’ve created for New How, or Social Era but also anything else that makes sense. It’s my latest thinking, even untested stuff but focused on this particular area …
At the workshop itself.
- Frame the ideas.
- Hold a discussion (which I can facilitate given that I’m a certified facilitator or just participate actively in) to get team problem solving around what we decide in area #1. It has to be narrow enough to be actionable but broad enough to be meaty. We agree on the topline but then let the conversation go where it needs to go.
- Make sure things become actionable by end.
- The thing that is in the moment lets me ask the questions the group needs to answer but I’m working from within their context.
- Typically, in a 4-6 hour timeframe, the agenda would be something like:15 min intros all around.
30 minute keynote to frame
15 minute Q&A to make sure we have a shared understanding.
Coming back to focus on the key question –
2-4 hour discussion. (obviously break in between if longer…)
1-hour developing next steps group wants to take.
The breaks are designed for people to breathe and process so that when they talk, they are more committed to what they are jointly developing. We might all go walk around outside for a few minutes and capture some sunshine before we come back together….
Post-Meeting Followup. Typically, I will follow up with the leader after the workshop with my own thoughts and guidance on what I observed and maybe some resources that came to mind and so on.
Okay. What’s missing for this to be most valuable?
The only thing that is important… I’m not going back into full-on consulting –
this workshop has to be a contained process that can be 1 or 2 days long so the organization doesn’t feel they have to keep hiring a consultant but can use this kind of event to kickstart the right conversations within their organization. We want to create enough heat and energy from the workshop that it fuel the organization forward.
The last time I asked you for this kind of raw feedback was when we first named this blog, Yes * Know, with your direction. So a big, BIG thanks — in advance — for your advice!
One reason I so fervently believe in openness is because I see how much value there is in being open with others and co-creating value as we go along.