Maxy is a Senior Experience Designer at Exo Digital who is well-known for running unique, constructive workshops for our clients and us.
She joined us to chat more about what they involve and their benefits for small businesses.
Workshops are a fun thing to do with a company and an agency. It’s a way for everyone to be collaborative and upskill together or produce something of value.
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.
Benefits of Investing in 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 it’s quite small.Maxy Lotherington
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.
A good 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 in the future.
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.
When a business gets bigger, it might want to specialise more. This is usually research-driven, where you can do fake interviews to improve interview skills or learn fun things about surveys or quantitative research methods to fill gaps in the knowledge of people in the business.
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.
Innovation and Longevity
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. Now that you’ve all experienced it, you get a better idea of what you’re looking forMaxy Lotherington
You don’t always need someone to come in externally once you have those skills internally.
I’ve run workshops when I’ve been imbedded 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 Lothering
In-Person vs. Online
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, and 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.
Give it a go if you haven’t before.
Look for someone who runs a workshop in a gap you might have in your business.
Run them fairly regularly, even if you don’t have a gap. It keeps you fresh, and it’s a good team bonding experience.
If you would like more information on the workshops that we run, head over to our Services page to book an info session or call us on 1300 929 992.