As a tiny globally distributed company we use a lot of tools to collaborate, but sometimes it just makes a lot more sense to get together in person. In our last post we described how the entire Strategyzer team gathered for a company retreat in Tunisia to work on alignment. This post outlines the guidelines we used to design a productive workshop.
To produce the best possible results in the shortest amount of time we applied four guiding principles to designing the in-person work at our company retreat.
1) Clearly define the workshop objective
This is the starting point for any good workshop design. Answer these two questions and you have a good foundation to create a successful workshop:
2) Use carefully selected methods and workshop exercises that contribute to the objective and to achieve the desired outputs and results
At Strategyzer we are firm believers in the use of simple and practical business tools and sound methodologies. Make sure you perform these two activities during the design and execution of a workshop:
3) Avoid blah blah blah (aka “verbal diarrhea” with no result) at all cost
People have a tendency to talk too much when you give them the space to do so. This can lead to a very unproductive workshop. Therefore we apply the following guiding principles in addition to carefully selecting workshop exercises:
4) Explore alternatives before making a decision
We use prototyping as a mean to explore alternatives in our business design work, but we also treat the outputs of our group work and conversations as prototypes (at varying levels of fidelity). Doing so removes the permanence factor of the typical decision-making process and encourages more creative ideas and contributions of every team member involved.
We've found that by following these guidelines we are able to work through very difficult challenges more quickly while keeping the team more engaged and on task. This allows the company to benefit from everybody’s best work and the collective intelligence of the team.