Fifteen colleagues came to Accenture’s office for a workshop to encourage customers to use online banking. They were expecting a PaperPoint presentation with the occasional whiteboarding to keep things interesting. However, from the moment they entered the atmosphere was different.
In three hours, our team developed a creative, fun, and open environment. We followed Design Thinking frameworks and through the session co-created some amazing ideas to incentivize online banking.

As soon as everyone arrived we kicked off the session. First was a problem overview where we empathized and described our customers. The next activity was warmup games which was a brilliant way to get the team to feel fun, playful and collaborative. Then we explained each activity before completing them. Finally we gathered together, presented and provided feedback on each idea.

The workshop was a success. A few brilliant ideas were created and shared such as infographics and online banking treasure hunts. Participants and facilitators left feeling exhilarated and I cannot wait to do it again.
It took a lot of work to create the described environment and outcomes. Below is my checklist of what you need to do to deliver a successful workshop.

1. Know your session’s purpose

1469962848_AnalyticsYou must be able to articulate what you are trying to achieve in one sentence. A clear objective provides each team member with clarity and the ability to focus on the final outcome. It allows everyone to work to establish and break rules to achieve the larger task.
One of the best methods to frame your purpose is to use ‘How Might We’ questions. A few examples are:
• How might we enable age 50+ customers to manage their banking?
• How might we improve public safety in BC in the event of an emergency?
• How might we communicate to customers about public transit politics?

2. Plan your workshop

1469962513_ChecklistYou need to plan your How Might We question, warm up games, and workshop activities. There are hundreds of different activities that you can choose from. Some good ones are:

It takes longer than expected to choose the right exercises that will achieve your desired purpose so plan ahead.

Additionally, as you choose your activities, it is best to understand the what part of the Design Thinking process you are in. You can see my previous post for more details.

Also create an agenda with a strict schedule for each activity. As a part of your planning determine time per activity, establish time keepers and use clocks to manage time.

3. Setup structured teams of 4-6 people

1469962936_Man-9-As a part of brainstorming rules (d.school rule 6) we want teams to build on ideas of others. The reason is that when you have a larger team ideas spring board and grow. That is why you need at least 4 people in each team. Any smaller and it is not as likely to get wild ideas.
Alternatively, more than 6 people is a crowd. People tend to become more reserved and start to coast along instead of participating. With a team size of 6 everyone can be fully engaged.

You also need a facilitator in each team who is able to guide the team through the exercise. On top of knowing the method, they are responsible for ensuring the team is on time, that brainstorming rules are followed and that people are having fun while participating.

4. Develop a fun engaged environment

1469962542_Party-PoppersA key principle of design thinking is that it is fun & playful. The vibe in the room is essential helping ideate and create. One of my favourite things about Design Thinking sessions is the energy that develops. It is exciting and infectious. Here are some things that can help develop a positive culture:
• Relaxed happy attitude by facilitators
• Warm up games for the group
• Music during small group sessions

5. Ensure that activities are time bound

1469963030_hourglassOnce you start an activity and have briefed the team of the brainstorming rules, establish a timer. Display the clock in a visible location so that everyone can see it and stick to it. Time bound constraints are essential to producing viable products as quickly as possible.

6. Give feedback often in “I like, I wish” format

1469963200_micOnce the teams have finished the exercise gather everyone and have them present. Presentations should also be timed and I like to keep them to 3 minutes. Then have the rest of the team provide feedback by saying “I like this” or “I wish for this”. The team presenting is not expected to respond to feedback and defend their presentation. Rather, feedback can be openly received and incorporated into future iterations.

Using these principles you can host engaging and productive workshops.