Let’s return to our series on achieving co-creation whilst you are unable to meet in person, through using digital workshops.

In part 2, of this two-part series, guest blogger Hanne Sorteberg returns to complete her walkthrough of how to run a co-creation digital workshop. Later in this post, she also shares her tips from experience for getting the best results.

Regular readers of this blog will recall Hanne has shared with us before on topics including your cultural fit with an employer, data visualisation & critiquing KPIs.

So, let’s return to Hanne’s recipe for such a co-creation workshop. In part 1, she had just guided us to open up to others building on each others’ ideas…

Recipe to run a brain-writing workshop in Miro (part 2)

Revisit

Ask all participants to revisit their ideas, including the new comments and ideas from the other participants

Heat map

Create blue dots on top of the board. Ask everybody to copy and place a blue dot on a comment or post-it they find particularly good or useful. This will create a “heat map” on promising ideas, the members have an unlimited supply on blue dots. 

Voting

Introduce red dots – one for each participant. Ask everybody to make up their mind and choose their favourite idea, without placing their dots. When everybody is ready, synchronize voting by counting down and asking people to place the dots at the same time.

Using blue & red dots

You have a winner 

Identify the most popular (winning) idea and a couple of ‘runners up’ to work on.

Next step

Tell everybody what happens to the ideas they came up with and keep them posted on the progress. Thank them for their contribution.

Share

The best part of digital workshops – the work is already documented. No need to collect illegible physical post-its and try to write them down.

Tips for a more effective co-creation workshop

A few tips from learning what helps:

  • Make the top row post-it’s a bit bigger than what the template provides, the main ideas require some more space.
  • Have a legend for the participants’ colours – they may forget their colour, and you need to know who’s who as a facilitator.
  • The warm-up exercise also works as an icebreaker, some participants may never have seen each other before. Use this as a facilitator to set an informal stage, by commenting on what they write down: “Wow, I didn’t know pancakes were this popular!
  • Participants may have strong ownership of their ideas. Ask for permission before you combine with a similar idea.
  • Always make some affirmation after each idea and note is presented, such as “That’s a good one” “yup”, “That’s important”, “uh-huh”. It may sound unnatural, but it works really well, and no one notices (apart from the owner of the note who will feel good about his or her idea). It is particularly important to do this in a digital meeting, to assure everybody they have not lost connection and are heard.
  • Use textboxes or similar to add comments and notes. Be flexible on format along the way.
  • Ditching 8 ideas may be painful for the participants. Allow them to post all their ideas in the meetings chat-dialogue or similar, they may become useful later.
  • If this team is prone to vote for their own ideas, give everybody two red dots.
  • Miro allows export to pdf. Create frames to set a suitable printing area, typically around each idea.
  • Round up by asking each participant about what worked well. What could be improved for next time, both on the format and content?
  • Many types of workshops work well on a digital board. If you have used a whiteboard and post-its physically, it will probably work digitally as well.
  • For big teams – consider showing the board in MS Teams or Skype and have a couple of users creating the content in Miro.

What is the response to using digital workshops instead?

Participants love this way of working. Feedback includes: “It’s easier to stay focused and take mental breaks in this format, I prefer it!” and “I don’t want to use post-its anymore, this worked surprisingly well!

Why do digital workshops work so well? A key element is that everybody is present online. A mixture of physical presence and someone calling in is still a bad idea. 

Facilitating skills still apply in a digital format – get some more tips in my LinkedIn article on running workshops: 

The magical workshop – and how you can run one in 10 easy steps

Have you ever been in a meeting, and after two hours realized you have achieved nothing? There was no shortage of participants, ideas, advice or involvement. Still, no decisions were made, and there were no progress to show.

How are you continuing to innovate online?

Thanks to Hanne for her recipe, tips from experience and encouragement to make this change.

It prompts me to wonder what else you are doing to co-create, innovate or just work collaboratively online. Beyond the almost ubiquitous use of Zoom, MS Teams or Slack, have you found any approaches or tools help you?

If so, please let me know in your feedback, as I’d love to continue enabling us all to learn together how to adapt to a new effective ‘normal‘.