Building on my last book review, about forming new habits, in this post, I focus on the new habit of using digital workshops.

Many of us are learning to use video conferencing & collaboration tools to support a much wider range of meetings. Workshops that would always previously be held in person are being reimagined to work well online.

So, I’m delighted to welcome back our guest blogger from Norway, Hanne Sorteberg. Regular readers will recall that Hanne has shared with us before a popular two-part series on how to run Role Definition workshops. So, when she offered to share how she is moving co-creation online, I was sold.

Here is part one of how you can also still run co-creation workshops online. Over to Hanne…

New habits show how a new recipe can work

The last few weeks of our home office has forced many of us to create new habits. We meet on Zoom and Teams and get used to seeing the boss in a t-shirt with kids playing in the background. Paradoxically, I find that the new digital way working adds a new human touch to the workplace.

I have facilitated workshops for more than 15 years. I have been a strong believer in the physical arena. When all of us are in the same room with coloured post-its, red dots for voting, and workshop pens, magic happens. I thought it would not be possible to recreate the same dynamics and energy in a digital environment. I was dead wrong.

In this series, I’ll share my recipe for running an idea co-creation workshop working from home. Brain-writing is a technique where the team members build on each other’s ideas in a brainstorming session. This method works surprisingly well on a digital board. 

I prefer the tool Miro, which is an online collaborative whiteboarding platform. There are other tools such as Microsoft Whiteboard, Figma and even a shared presentation on Google Disk, but I prefer the simplicity and the look and feel of Miro.

Recipe to run a brain-writing workshop in Miro (part 1)

Sizing

Set the team, time and virtual place. 5-7 is a good size, 9 is maximum. Invite the participants to a 90-minute online meeting – be clear on the expected outcome.

Registration

Make sure you have enough Miro licenses for all participants. Users need to register with their email. Everybody needs to be a user to join, even if you are just an observer. 

Create a Board

There is a template for Brainwriting in Miro – use to get started. If you don’t have a template – make one: Every participant has an assigned colour. They get a “post-it” each – in a row on top. Below, everybody gets their own post-it to add on the main idea in the top row. The order of colours should be different for each column.

Check-in

Make sure everybody is logged in and aboard – in Miro you can see who is on the board and what they are doing.

Warm up

Navigation and the idea of brainwriting may be new to many participants. I always start with a dry run. Ask the participants what they are having for dinner this evening. Make them write this up on their main post-it in the top row. When everybody is finished, ask the other participants to add things that may make the dining experience even better.  

Warm up board (improving on dinner)

Introduction

Introduce the topic of the workshop, ask if anything is unclear.

Brainstorm ideas

Ask everybody to have a notepad ready (physical or digital) and write down ten ideas. Ten is a large amount, but it is important to stretch to find gold. They may comment or ask for help if they get stuck. Timebox this part for 15 minutes, allow for five more if some participants are not ready yet.

Clean up

While participants are writing their ideas, clean the board and remove all dinner related texts (but keep the post-its in place)

Choose ideas 

Ask all participants to pick their best idea, and a runner’s up. Then everybody pastes their ideas in the top row. Create a new column where everybody can post their runner up idea. Combine similar ideas. Narrow down to as many ideas as participants (+/- 2). This may be done by voting among the runner’s up ideas.

Present

Ask everybody to present their idea. Other participants should not comment on the idea, such as “this has never worked before” or “That’s stupid”. They may ask for clarification or more details if they do not understand the idea. 

Build

Open up for building on each others ideas – give 10 -15 minutes for this part.

What are you now doing in digital meetings?

Many thanks to Hanne for what is once again a very practical series. In part two we see the rest of Hanne’s recipe & benefit from her extra tips for a successful workshop.

I hope you’ve found that helpful & perhaps inspiring. What about you? Are you now running any workshops online? Have you succeeeded in taking a type of meeting that has always been done face to face into a digital channel?

If so, please share your tips too (either below or in social media). Let’s keep learning together about how to work more effectively in a strange new normal.