want this article to be for you. I want you to feel that your perception on workshop design has been challenged (a little or a lot depending on your experience) and I want you to have something useful to consider implementing back in the work space.
Usually I would do this by meeting with you, understanding your need and building a workshop solution for you. I can't do that so I’m going to share my top tips when looking for a learning designer to build your workshops.
Yes, you can put people on a group, off the shelf, off site workshop, without consultation. The provider will use a workshop that they can pick up and any of the team can deliver. It’s quick, it’s easy and you’ll tick a box. It’s not, however, built for you and your team. In my 10 years’ experience in building and running workshops the main source of dissatisfaction from people reporting back is that the workshop didn’t do what they expected and/or didn’t address their specific needs. The same comes from the one size fits all approach a lot of companies take to workshop design.
Happy sheets are great for workshop designers to ‘prove’ people enjoyed the session. They go no further than that. Sit down with the (workshop) designer and tell them what change you want to see from the workshop. They can then work out how to get the attendees stories woven into the design. From there they should be able to tell if it can be measured and how you should go about doing it. The measurements should be able to be observed back in at work.
Unless the workshop is for a technical certification and exam that requires passing, do away with the quiz. You’ll be able to see (literally see, hear, feel) changes in the team back at work if it has been successful.
You can also consider follow up coaching sessions with the team to help them put the learning into practice.
Not as easy a task as you imagine, but we are out there. This is really important so that you don’t get a disconnect between the analysis, design and delivery. Pay for the full wrap around; you’ll regret it if you don’t!
At the end of the day the designer should put you and your people front and centre. Far beyond how things should be done, or sticking to one way of working and ‘this has worked for lots of my customers’ thinking. You are paying for a specialist service, demand something special.
One of the best uses for a group workshop is to raise awareness. Use the opportunity of everyone being together to make your team aware of company changes, use the changes to discuss new ways of working, and use the discussion as the basis content of the workshop.
The workshop should be linked to real events that are happening in the business and tools discussed should help everyone who attends deal with the challenges of the day. A really good workshop designer will have thought about the challenges you want to address and activities should be built to include input from the attendees.
In every survey I’ve run in the last 5 years respondents (approx. 2000 people) always say they prefer face to face learning over any other form. This is true across all business units. There are many factors as to why, but the one common theme is that people like to ask questions. They like to practice theory in a safe space, question how they can be better and develop a practical understanding of the theory. Give them that opportunity.
N.B. I’m not advocating a human to human experience for all learning. I’m advocating that the human element take precedent over the digital when it comes to working through complex behavioural, communication or cultural challenges.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it has given you something to consider the next time you want to build a user centred learning experience.