Here’s a common paradox of U.S. workshops we love using workshops as a tool to build consensus and move projects forward, but we’re often frustrated to find ourselves in workshops where we don’t understand how the activities we’re doing are driving us forward. How do we make sure the workshop we’re hosting then is a valuable use of time where everyone understands the goals and activities? Here’s the trick. Rather than jumping straight to time boxing a list of activities work backwards from goals. Using this simple tool I call the workshop design campus. It’s a planning activity you can do by yourself or with an internal core team to design your next UX workshop. It’s a simple landscape map with three swim lanes, the first slimline its goals. Basically, these are the desired outcomes you want to have achieved when you leave the workshop.
The second is questions.
What information do you need to gather in order to reach those goals and deliberately last processes? These are the activities that attendees will do to enable you to gather that information. Now there are three steps to using the workshop design campus. First, brainstorm the questions you have. Write one question per sticky note and post them up. It’s easiest to start articulating what you don’t know. If this were a discovery workshop or were planning. For example, I might have questions about existing user research, current and past efforts, and who my stakeholders will be for the project. So it would write each of those questions that I have for responding to those topics and simply post them on the landscape map in any fashion and in any order that they appear. Now, once you finished brainstorming questions, goals start to become more evident. The second step is to cluster your questions and get them high level goal labels. So my questions about stakeholders and existing research seem to suggest that I need to devote some time in the workshop to understanding the current state.
So let’s cluster those into one group here.
My questions about what they’ve tried in the past and what they’re doing currently seem to suggest that maybe I need to spend some time in the workshop documenting existing ideas so those could cluster into one group as well. Finally, as a third step, align activities that will actually help you answer your questions and lead you to your goals. Perhaps a stakeholder mapping activity and a research outlook would help me understand the current state maybe of post to understand what existing ideas the team has and maybe a forced ranking activity would help me document existing ideas. Now, from here, you could use this output to share how your workshop is shaping up with interested parties before committing to an agenda. Once you have Byan and feel confident in the workshop design, then create a workshop agenda. It will be stronger. Having worked backwards from your questions and your goals to ensure the activities within your workshop have meeting.