Moving from workshops to “workshop culture”
Something I’ve been thinking about recently, based on what I’ve seen with clients, is how workshops can play a part in transforming the way a team works together. I think of it as three levels:
Level 1: workshops as an event
A group of people meets on a one-off basis to have a focused discussion. It might be a rare opportunity for people to come together, so it needs to be productive. An external facilitator is brought in to run the session, ensure collaboration and creative thinking, but also that there are concrete outcomes. With great facilitation, the group can make a lot of progress in a short space of time.
Continue reading Great workshops, great teams, great culture
As the first head of innovation at Emerald Publishing, Bec Evans had the opportunity to shape the role to suit her and the business. What she thought would be a very product-focused role, turned out to be something completely different – about changing the culture. And workshops played a big part in discovering that.
Emerald Publishing is a global academic publisher that specialises in business and management. Although it had a very traditional business model, it became interested in bringing new techniques such as lean and agile and encouraging an intrapreneurial mindset within the company.
Emerald offered Bec Evans, who had her own startup on the side, the new head of innovation role, which she had the opportunity to shape herself. Coming from a part-time position in the product development and innovation department, Bec started off by making a call for ideas from across the company. However, she soon realised that this was the wrong approach:
Continue reading How workshops helped to accelerate a culture of innovation at Emerald Publishing
The insights and breakthroughs that participants experience in a great workshop can have a big influence on the way they think about teamwork. An effective workshop demonstrates what can be achieved with focused and purposeful collaboration in a short space of time.
As Jake Knapp from Google Ventures said in “Sprint”, the book that outlines their 5-day workshop for building and testing new ideas:
“After your first sprint, you might notice a shift in the way your team works… you’ll build confidence in one another’s expertise and in your collective ability to make progress towards ambitious goals”
There are few principles you can adopt to make sure that workshops have an positive impact on your team culture:
Continue reading How to improve your team culture with workshops
These are some of the key themes and ideas that have continued to emerge for me this year, around the topics of teamwork and collaboration:
1. Teamwork is changing
Collaboration is nothing new, but the way we’re thinking about teams is changing. Faster-moving industries and more complex challenges means the future of work will be organised around fluid teams. For the most forward-thinking companies, this is already impacting their entire organisational structure. Airbnb has elastic teams, Spotify emphasises autonomy, and Basecamp works in six-weekly cycles. Stripe even experimented with hiring whole teams earlier this year.
Takeaway: the nature of work is continuing to change as flexible, agile teams become increasingly common. This requires a new set of skills for leading, and working as part of, them effectively.
Continue reading Into 2017: five teamwork and collaboration takeaways from 2016
The word ‘meeting’ likely conjures up an uninspiring image for you – talking through an agenda (if there is one) point-by-point, some people dominating, others zoning out. The typical format is so easy, it’s almost automatic, without really thinking whether it’s what we really need to make progress. We’re getting of tired meetings. We have too many of them, and when they’re not run well, they’re unproductive with no real outcomes.
But teams still need to get together to have discussions – whether virtually or physically. So when you do meet, how can you make sure it’s meaningful?
An effective meeting starts before the calendar invites are sent out and the agenda is written. It starts with asking two questions: 1) why are we meeting? 2) what’s the best format for it?
The team at Nordnet Design Studio have taken a proactive approach to clearly defining the types of meetings they have, and have built these into a rhythm. Inspired by this, here is a list of 26 different ways to meet. There’s something in here whether you need to communicate updates, generate ideas, have high-level strategy discussions or even just get to know each other better.
Continue reading 26 different ways to meet with your team
Research has shown time and time again that how teams work together has more of an impact on its performance than who is on the team. A clear way to increase chances of your team’s success is to explore the habits, routines and rituals that will enable you to do better work together.
This is what I covered in a 25min talk – Designing your way to better team collaboration (video) – at Mind The Product this year. I featured practical examples of teams that had created methods and processes that made a big difference to their work.
These are the areas and some examples that I shared: Continue reading Designing better teamwork
What does your typical work day look like? For many of us, it will be punctuated by meetings, emails, chats with co-workers, notifications from collaboration tools, and if we’re really honest, browsing the web and getting sucked into social media. Our days are often spent switching quickly between the items on our to-do list.
But when was the last time you were able to carve out a good chunk of time from your work day to really concentrate and focus on a task? That might feel like a distant luxury.
Enter “deep work”
What happens in these long, uninterrupted stretches of time is what Cal Newport calls ‘deep work’ – “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit”. In his book of the same name, Newport argues that our tech-driven culture is making insane demands on our attention, and also reducing our ability to focus. But for those that are able to engage in frequent deep work, it’s hugely advantageous for developing expertise, increasing productivity and advancing professionally. Continue reading How to strike the balance between deep work and collaboration
Sometimes the smallest actions can make a big difference.
In this video, I share five tips to help you facilitate your next workshop, that I’ve picked up through trial and error in the many workshops that I’ve run.
They will help you to ease your participants into a collaborative mindset, encourage ideas from everyone and get your workshop back on track. Continue reading 5 tips for facilitating your next workshop