Why Workshops are taking over?

Why Workshops are taking over?

If you’re up to date on the latest working patterns, and work habits, chances are you’ve already heard of the word “Workshops.”

What are Workshops? Is it just another fancy name for meetings? Or are they any better? And if so, what makes them better? I’m going to answer these questions in this blog.

What is a Workshop?

A workshop is a session geared towards making effective decisions without sacrificing team alignment. The intentional structure ensures solid decision-making while avoiding the usual pitfalls of teamwork. Such as asymmetrical knowledge, team politics, and differences in working styles.

How is it different from a meeting?

If you’ve been in a meeting with designers, developers and managers, you know the following scenario too well:

A cross-functional team gets together in a room and members start throwing out ideas. The juniors in the room don’t feel comfortable sharing their ideas. The loudest, often the most senior person in the room dominates the entire conversation. By the end of the meeting, everyone understands the job to be done differently.

Image source: AJ&Smart

Workshops fundamentally change the way collaborative work happens.

They replace the unstructured open discussions with exercises and activities that are designed to minimize groupthink and bias while fostering structured discussion and uninterrupted ideation.

That’s why established companies and startups use the power of workshops to help their team do meaningful work, faster and effectively.

Every workshop has a facilitator, the person who runs (or facilitates) the workshop.

What does a facilitator do?

A facilitator’s job is to help a person or group of people transverse a problem space.

The facilitator guides others to work together in a structured way to solve problems quickly. All while creating an environment where ideas can flow and decisions feel easy.

A facilitator collects relevant information, identifies underlying challenges, ideates possible solutions, and helps the team define and commit to the next steps.

Having a foundation in facilitation helps you throughout the entire workshop.

It helps you to gather requirements, constraints, and expectations from stakeholders at the start of the project. While also helps to have more fruitful collaborative design sessions, and have streamlined processes for iteration.

You might be wondering what skills you need to be good at facilitation.

What makes a good facilitator?

  • Good listener: Facilitating is more about listening to the conversations. It’s important to keep your thoughts, ideas, and comments to yourself and let the participants express their ideas.
  • Unbiased Perspective: One of the worst things you can do is be a biased facilitator who drives the discussion to a preplanned conclusion. Leave your preferences behind when guiding the conversation to make sure the discussion is developing as organically as possible.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration can be frustrating. All too often there’s the temptation for people to take on the role of the leader and to lead, rather than the role of facilitator and to guide. A good facilitator knows that they’re the guide, not the hero. They’re in the room to help the team do their best work, not to show off how smart or cool they are.
  • Timing: A good facilitator knows when a discussion has gone off-topic and needs to be brought to a close. This is where you can stop listening and feel comfortable interrupting for the sake of the group.

You can download MURAL’s guide to facilitating remote workshops and get the ins and outs of facilitation.

A change in Workshops

This has been happening for the last few years. The pandemic only accelerated this change.

Shifting to remote work.

A team sitting in Berlin can conduct workshops with their clients in the U.S., or anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Companies like Facebook and Twitter are moving at least half of their teams permanently remote. The world is accelerating towards remote work and innovation in how workshops are conducted is not behind in this change.

Tools like MURAL are making it even better for teams to conduct remote workshops now. With a vast range of templates, and collaborative features like embedding pre-build frameworks, importing anything from images and gifs to icons, integrating with a large collection of software, having a timer and voting features, and calls as well right into the digital whiteboard, MURAL is providing teams a platform for effective collaboration.

Workshop facilitation is penetrating the corporate world with companies like Dell, IBM, Disney, Trello, Cisco using digital workspaces like MURAL and succeeding in collaborative work.

Accelerate your Career!

The way we do business and run meetings have been changing at a rapid pace. It is important now more than ever to learn how to lead collaborative discussions to boost your career prospects.

One of the best places to start is by volunteering to facilitate a session to kick off a new project, or to suggest that you try a mini-workshop when people are finding it hard to reach a decision. Once you’re seen as someone who can come in and help others do their work better and with less friction and uncertainty, you’ll be sought after for every project.

Become the catalyst for getting work done better; the growth opportunities will follow.

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I'm a User Experience Designer, a curious soul always keen to learn as much as possible. Here to share what I've learnt and get better at life.

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Waris Hussain

Waris Hussain

I'm a User Experience Designer, a curious soul always keen to learn as much as possible. Here to share what I've learnt and get better at life.

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