02 Jan What Is a Workshop and How It Can Boost Productivity?
It is no secret, we are big advocates of using workshops instead of meetings.
But you don’t know the difference between a workshop and a meeting?
You can’t pin down what exactly a workshop can do for your business?
You are not buddy-buddy with workshopping methods that enhance group collaboration?
Then let us introduce you to the transformative power of workshops and the positive changes they can bring to your business.
What Is a Workshop?
Let’s start with shedding some light on what a workshop is.
Workshops are a systematic and structured team collaboration approach to produce strong results on a particular subject or project, avoiding common teamwork pitfalls such as group politics, asymmetric knowledge and different working styles.
It still looks and sounds like any given meeting in your company?
The difference between a meeting that comes to mind and a workshop is that a meeting often ends with an exchange of information, leaving you without a solid outcome. While a workshop, on the other hand, always has a concrete outcome in the form of a decision or solution.
Why Is a Workshop More Efficient Than a Meeting?
If you’ve ever participated in a meeting, you’ve probably experienced firsthand the situation described here.
Imagine a cross-functional team meeting where everybody is under pressure of deadlines and the boss’s expectations.
Or imagine you are leading a team meeting with the task to launch a new product. The juniors won’t dare to speak up and the seniors might dominate the dialogue.
The whole thing easily becomes frustrating and most probably it doesn’t go as expected or it doesn’t go well at all.
If you don’t want your meetings to end up with chaos, try organizing a workshop instead and empower collaborative work.
In our daily work practice, we follow a simple mantra:
Don’t have a meeting, throw a workshop!
You will have a fantastic opportunity to replace unstructured open discussions with exercises that minimize bias and conformity to group opinions.
With a workshop, you can easily avoid unstructured bursts of ideas and engage team members in a structured discussion and free-flowing ideation.
In a meeting, you are often faced with the challenge of respectful collaboration. And you wonder, does everyone feel equally involved?
In a workshop, you encourage group collaboration where people work together on a problem with a common goal to achieve better results. Workshops empower teams to do meaningful work faster and more effectively.
If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. — Henry Ford
The workshop collaboration methods create a fertile ground for tangible results, as well as for innovative and unique ideas.
Purpose and Benefits of Workshops
Now let us introduce you to everything a workshop really is and how it helps do meaningful work faster and more effectively.
💡 The purpose of a workshop
The purpose of a workshop is to provide a setting where a group of people can come together to discuss, identify issues, brainstorm ideas, make decisions, and develop solutions.
💡 Workshop is an intense interactive meeting
One of the main features of a workshop is the interactive approach. The workshop format engages participants with guided activities and practical exercises that lead to the desired outcome.
💡 Structured exercises and guided facilitation session
A workshop is a structured and facilitated session for a group of people. It is guided by the facilitator with thoughtfully prepared exercises and focused on practical problem-solving.
💡 Encouraging learning experience for all participants
Participants are encouraged to discuss and share their opinions. A different perspective from every participant is valuable for the problem-solving process.
💡 Group collaboration
In the guided and systematically organized workshop, group collaboration comes easily and naturally.
People start communicating more effectively, build more trust, and open up more. They even consider new methods of working together as soon as they begin to collaborate in a more ‘workshop-like’ manner.
💡 Clear takeaway
Workshopping changes team culture and encourages collaboration while increasing performance by boosting creativity and productivity. Participants will be able to make clear decisions or solve specific problems more easily at the end of a workshop.
A good workshop that will linger in your mind for a quite long time is by all means: dynamic, interactive, creative, colorful, creative, and practical.
In its essence, the workshop is about you and your company’s needs at a specific moment. When done right, participants experience greater engagement and enthusiasm and feel better prepared for their next business move.
Now you know the essentials of workshopping. And you get the idea of why it is so effective and why companies are in constant need of one. But, let’s stick a little bit more with the workshop basics and reveal more secrets.
A Well-Prepared Workshop Saves You Time and Money
If you want to prepare and conduct a good workshop, it is important to acknowledge the role of a facilitator.
The facilitator will lead a group of people to participate in the problem solving process focused on a particular issue.
With thoughtfully prepared exercises, the facilitator guides you step by step to help you structuralize your needs or goals.
A workshop situation creates a new perspective that helps you outline innovative business moves. Or it will gently lead you to redefine and improve the existing ones.
Facilitators will always encourage the participant to actively participate rather than just listen.
And that is why a workshop in its essence is teamwork. The facilitator, your teammates, and yourself work together with the same goal. The goal of a workshop can be improving one segment of your business. Or the team can work together on a particular problem you have been stuck on. It happens a lot, right?
Workshops are valuable and worthy of your time because they give you a much-needed perspective from many different angles. It enables you to put a specific problem out in the open. It encourages you to brainstorm with the team. And it will lead you to find an appropriate solution.
Finally, it will save you time and money dodging time-consuming meetings and helping you work more efficiently.
Did you know that an external facilitator could be also critical to the success and quality of the outcome and experience of a workshop?
Why Not Organize a Workshop of Your Own?
Are you worried that organizing a workshop will take too much of your time? You shouldn’t be.
Gather a team and initiate a workshop that will focus on a concrete project activity or a problem. Instead of an endless discussion that leads nowhere, introduce practical exercises that encourage ideating and creative thinking.
The essential idea is to focus and solve ONE specific problem or make ONE good decision. It is not about solving all of the company’s issues.
Let’s take a look at how to set up such a workshop and benefit from running one:
➡️ Focus on one specific problem of your choice and get it solved.
➡️ Set up a cozy space where every opinion and suggestion matters.
➡️ Initiate pleasant dialogue among teammates and create an atmosphere for idea exchange and creativity.
➡️ Encourage teammates to be proactive participants instead of passive observers and listeners.
➡️ Guide the group with examples and exercises that are related to a real problem or situation.
➡️ Build solutions together with your colleagues.
Every time you solve a problem effectively, you improve your analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Best of all: people think it’s fun. It never feels like work, and the outcome you gather for a project is invaluable. Why not go for it?
Tips & Tricks for Workshopping
You have set up your mind to organize a workshop and you are ready to go. But you will probably appreciate a few more pieces of advice from someone who has been there.
That is why we will share with you some of the best practices for workshopping to help you start. Let’s go!
✅ Define goals
If you set a clear goal at the very beginning, you can all work together towards the same goal.
Clarify your idea to everyone and maintain the focus throughout your session.
✅ Warm-up exercises
If you want your workshop to be successful, your participants should feel comfortable and enjoy the session.
So get the conversation going and set up a few warm-up exercises. For example, the whole group can brainstorm and make a list of keywords related to the training topic.
✅ Collaboration is the key
Make sure that everyone is involved in the process and that everyone contributes. Getting various perspectives on the same problem is the best way to create revealing ideas.
If conducted properly, workshopping is a methodology that can solve important problems in your company. With this structured and collaborative technique, you can put a spotlight on burning questions urgent for your business.
Which Workshops to Start With?
Are you overwhelmed by which workshops to start with? We’ve got you covered!
Every workshop is designed to solve a specific problem. So there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to workshop formats.
To give you an idea, there are brainstorming sessions, strategic planning workshops, retrospective workshops, business workshops on specific topics, leadership workshops and many more.
We also do not use one set of activities or methods in our work. We like to use all sorts of methods to design workshops that match the exact needs of our customers.
However, we also strongly believe in workshop formats like the Design Sprint or Design Thinking.
Both are proven frameworks that are used by countless companies every day. So we would suggest starting with these formats.
1 – Design Thinking
Design Thinking, in essence, can be described as a human-centered innovation mindset and method.
Put simply, it is a systematic and collaborative approach to problem-solving that is creative, iterative, and practical.
It encourages organizations and companies of all types to prioritize human experience over everything else, and to incorporate this priority into all stages of the product development cycle.
If you’d like to learn more, explore our beginner’s guide on Design Thinking and follow-up article on how Design Thinking can be applied in the workplace.
2 – Design Sprint
A Design Sprint is one recipe that applies the Design Thinking methodology.
It takes techniques from Design Thinking and condenses them into a powerful methodology that a team can complete in just one week.
Developed to accelerate product development, the methodology offers a helpful way to answer critical business questions, set product directions, strategize across teams, and even build team culture.
Read more about What is a Design Sprint and how it can save you time and money. And make sure to also check out our follow-up article which explains the entire Design Sprint Process 2.0.
A workshop will take longer to prepare than a regular business meeting. You will have to systematize your session and prepare guided activities and exercises. But this process will help you lead your workshop to the desired result.
Let’s remember some of the main benefits of conducting a workshop:
Workshops are increasing performance by enhancing creativity and productivity
Participants are developing new insights and skills that they can use in their work
Workshopping helps work colleagues build a sense of collaboration
Workshops are a great place for fruitful discussions
It is focused on problem-solving
More active involvement leads to more enthusiasm and a pleasant working atmosphere
The reason why companies use workshops is to find solutions to problems and to improve the competence of their employees.
The use of workshops can help your business in achieving many different objectives.
There are of course other tools to help you produce tangible results. But workshop frameworks will always help you set up effective courses of action. So why not make the best out of it?
Get in Touch
If you want to find out more about our workshop methodology and how it would fit into your business, reach out to us.
We will be happy to guide you throughout the workshopping process.