2020 threw the world a major curve ball, and before we knew it, we are locked down in some form or the other in most countries. And working from home (WFH) became the norm. For those of us who are in the business of conducting workshops, this is a major disruption as physical meetings were no longer allowed / encouraged and all planned workshops were cancelled as the weeks went by.
But practitioners have been innovating their way out of this situation mainly leveraging the online platforms available to us and from where I sit, I can see there are workshops being conducted and training classes for design thinking have come online.
So with a couple of online brainstorms under our belt, here’s some tips for conducting and facilitating remote workshops:
There are various tools available online for group collaboration and some of the popular ones include Mural, Miro and Klaxoon. Try out the free versions and audition them for yourselves to see which suit your needs or budget.
You can also bootstrap and experiment with existing familiar apps such as using Google Sheets to run a Creative Matrix brainstorm as shown here.
Although the collaboration tools are generally user-friendly, you’ll still have to factor in some level of a learning curve because moving post-its around online may not be that intuitive for participants who have little or no exposure to design thinking activities.
If you were used to planning a full-day workshop agenda, now is the time to consider breaking up the activities to bite size one-hour or two-hour activities. Its definitely more tiring when people are engaged for long periods over a phone or video conference, and soon, the law of diminishing returns will kick in as people start losing their focus or concentration.
Online vs Offline
Also think about how you can split an activity into a pre-work submission so that the time the participants spend online with each other is optimised for the group discussion elements. For example, in a rose, thorn, bud exercise / affinity clustering exercise, you could email the participants or have a briefing call to them for them to do the rose, thorn, bud on their own time and email you the outputs. Then you can lightly cluster the results and host a session where the group discusses the output.
I hope these tips are helpful to you in your own deign thinking journey.