How to run an innovation workshop
Innovation workshops are a fun thing to do in the work environment. They’re a way for everyone to be collaborative and upskill together or produce something of value.
Innovation workshops fall into two main formats. The first is a lecture where you have a facilitator come in and teach you a skill, and then everyone practices that skill together in a fun and collaborative way.The other is more on the end of producing something you’ll need later—for example, a user journey or an ideation phase. Part of what makes them fun is that they come in all different styles.
Investing in Innovation Workshops
Sometimes you can benefit from having someone unfamiliar with the business facilitate a session. They have no inherent biases, they don’t know anyone and everyone is a blank slate.
It’s nice having someone external to the business pop in, especially if the business is quite small.
Workshops are lovely because they’re a fun time. Some businesses think they’re a waste of money because they seem like they’re purely fun and of no benefit to learning or improving. But, a lot of the value comes from how you work together as a team.
The facilitator will come in and bring some exciting and mildly challenging activities that will let everyone work together in different ways, brainstorm and learn to be open with each other.
Whether it lasts a couple of hours or a few days, at the end of a good workshop, you’d expect the relationships of the people involved to improve. They increase your team’s ability to work with one another while discovering things about the business they didn’t understand or were misaligned about.
Recommended Workshops for Small Businesses
The workshops you run depend on your skillset and where you need to grow. Many small companies have missing skills or small things that they need training in. They may want to use a workshop to validate ideas or direction by looking at those gaps. You can have the whole business or just a team involved in a week-long process that allows you to validate and test ideas together.
It’s also an excellent way to get everyone involved in the prototyping experience, which is excellent for working together with designers and product managers. You might want to look at validating your business model, doing value propositions workshops and ideation workshops to get an idea of how your business will run.
Workshops require you to look at what you want to improve on, what you need to produce as a business or where you think there might be internal misalignments in knowledge.
Getting the most Value out of Innovation Workshops
The most considerable value a workshop can bring is that it sparks people’s innovation and ability to think outside the box.
They think about things slightly differently because they have to explain or describe something within their business to somebody who isn’t in the industry. It also helps them commit to things they want to change, improve or grow into, within the company.
A good workshop shouldn’t end at the end of the allocated time. Ideally, you can implement those skills you’ve learned and practised together into your business somehow. You might not run exactly the same activities in the future, but having those skills and ideas in mind will help you prioritise them.
With design sprints, for example, you might take snippets off them and run them regularly, or you might run the whole thing regularly.
“You don’t always need someone to come in externally once you have those skills internally.
I’ve run workshops when I’ve been embedded in the company, and we’ve had other people who specialised in an area run workshops for the whole business. Even companies like Exo, who specialise in running workshops for other people, can still benefit from someone external teaching us new skills.” - Maxy Lotherington, Senior Experience Designer at Exo Digital
In-Person vs. Online Innovation Workshops
Innovation workshops can be done both in-person and online but here’s a good tip, don’t mix it up. That is, don’t run a workshop where half the people are in the room and the other half are online. Pick a direction. If you’re running it online, it means you can pick the tools you want to optimise. You can make sure that everyone is trained on the software. In-person, you can have some more fun with physical objects. Mixing them means that someone is always missing out.
Ready to give an innovation workshop a go? Look for someone who runs a workshop in a gap you might have in your business. Run them fairly regularly, keep it fresh. It’s a good team bonding experience. If you would like more information on the workshops that we run, reach out to our team!
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