Running Design Inspired Workshops

Executive Summary

Designing a workshop in a human-centred way first requires asking the question “Who are we designing for and how will they experience any interaction?”At firstglance, this heightened focused on others may seem excessive, however imbedding empathy into practices is what enables the successful implantation as stakeholders have ownership over a co-designed solution.

The External Sounding Exercise is an example of a design inspired workshop. Materials and the recording can be viewed here:https://colleaga.app.box.com/folder/112340907367

Running a workshop is similar to running a meeting but incorperates more interactions between the internal team and external participants. To prepare for the workshop follow the details in this article How to Run a Sucessful Meeting, specifically the 3P's and meeting roles. 

When preparing for the workshop consider the following design inspired recomendations. 

Imbed the introduction with empathy for those in the meeting

  • Acknowledgecurrent context (This signals an understanding for what people might be dealing with at the moment)
  • Acknowledge who is in the room
  • Set the tone and purpose (Answers participant question ‘Why are we here?’)
  • Outlinekey housekeeping considerations (E.G. Remain on mute, self-guided breaks, etc.)
  • Set the expectations for what is being asked of participants


Opening a Workshop - Full Group Engagement

Activity 1: Setting Expectations and Understanding the Different Types of Thinking

Principle: Innovation requires both convergent and divergent thinking and knowing when to use which type of thinking is critically important to delivering the best outcomes.

Related resources: Please watch this video that explains the two types of thinking - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmBf1fBRXms

Tool: Metimeter https://www.mentimeter.com/

Introduce the mentimeter tool. Start by asking a multiple-choice question such as “What do you like about Zoom meetings?”and provide 3-4 answers. Comment on the results as a way of engaging with the audience. Present a second open-ended and related question such as “What do you hope to get out of this meeting?” (Any questions could be substitute in here providing they follow the same format). Acknowledge the answers and key points.

Explain that this exercise is being used to demonstrate convergent and divergent thinking. The first question forces participants to use convergent thinking while the second provokes divergent thinking. Explain that both are important to the innovation process and can beused to gain valuable insights. Outline that for this meeting we will ensure different activities will mainly focus on one or the other type of thinking to make the experience user(brain)-friendly.This helps participants understand when they are meant to be in the mode of critiquing or building.

Breakout Room - Small group Engagement

Make the work portion of the meeting simple for participants to provide many diverse insights

  • Explain the purpose and desired outcome and logistics of the breakout groups. (This likely will involve 2-3 rounds with large group share back in between/at the end).
    • Eg. There will be three rounds, two aimed at generating questions and ideas related to the content (divergent) and one aimed at provided recommendations based on your expertise (convergent).”
  • Start with a small team introduction exercise.
  • Ensure each breakout discussion is centred around one key question you are trying to have answered.
    • Have participants focus on questions related to the key question. Build in time for reflection and discussion.
    • Have a scribe take notes
Activity 2: Small team introduction activity
Ask each participant to write down one key piece expertise they would like to share and one thing they would like to learn from the group (What expertise would you like to share today? What would you like to learn today?). 
Have them share this information one by one.
Activity 3: Question storming 
Key Question:What questions do you have relatedto the challenge brief/the problem we are trying to solve? 
Mode: Building (Divergent thinking)
Related resources: This activity is loosely based upon the technique of ‘question storming.’ https://hbr.org/2018/03/better-brainstorming
Activity 4: Ideal experience/Best practices
Key question: Based on your experience, what makes for the ideal X? (Example: X=innovation partnership)
Mode: Building (Divergent thinking)
Activity 5: Capturing Expertise
Key question: Based on what you know what would you recommend?
Mode: Refining (Convergent thinking)
End of Workshop Engagament

End off the workshop by acknowledging participants and building relationships

  • Close the meeting with a check-in on how people are thinking and feeling about the project.
  • Explain next steps and ask participants to share anythingthey think about upon reflection related to thequestionsposed during the session.
Activity 6: One word check-in
Ask each participant to think of one word that describes their current thoughts about the meeting/project. Have them share one by one.
This activity is a great way to get participants final reflections on the workshop or project and often closes off the workshop on a possive note.