5 tips for better workshop follow-up

Have you ever attended a fantastic workshop where you left feeling motivated to take the next steps, only to wonder, a few weeks later, what happened to all of those great ideas everyone developed?  

Although we pay a lot of attention to the design and facilitation of workshops, the workshop follow-up is often left as an afterthought. Even a great workshop will lose its impact if you don’t make the most of the momentum that was created on the day.

If you’re the person leading the workshop, it’s also your job to take care of the follow-up. Here are some tips to make sure you get the results you need:

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How to kickoff your team project: what research says [and template]

In this post, I’ll explore some of what the research says about creating great teams, and what you should include in your project kickoff as a result. At the end of the post you can download a PDF template for you to plan your next session.

If the future of work is about small, multidisciplinary and temporary teams (sometimes called The Hollywood Model) then knowing how to launch projects in the right way will be even more important. This way of working will require teams to align quickly and spring into action. The need for highly effective project kickoffs has never been greater.

Luckily, there’s increasing amounts of research available about what makes a great, creative and productive team, and you can use this to structure a successful kickoff session. It’s all about tapping into the expertise of the team and creating a good plan for how you’re going to work together.

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Why running better workshops will make you a better creative leader

Improving your workshop facilitation skills might have more of an impact on your work than you think.

study of top management teams across 500 organisations showed that CEOs had a specific role to play in encouraging creativity in their teams. The researchers, Abraham Carmeli and Paul B. Paulus called this ideational facilitation leadership which they described as:

“leadership behaviour that cultivates openness, exchange of ideas and effective discussion for creating thinking and work in top management teams”.

Research has identified that to enhance creativity, teams need to: share knowledge, be aware of each team member’s expertise, and communicate effectively. Carmeli and Paulus conclude that the leader is crucial in creating the right environment for this and ensuring these interactions happen, particularly in meetings.

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Four skills that will help you to facilitate effective workshops

When it comes to facilitating great workshops, there is always room to improve and introduce new techniques to your sessions. It’s an ongoing learning process and you’ll discover more exercises to try, gain more confidence, and get better at reading the energy in the room.

But how do you find opportunities to practice your facilitation skills?  It may not be possible for you to run workshops as frequently as you’d like to experiment and try new methods.

Through my experience, I’ve identified four areas that can make a huge difference to the success of your workshops. The advantage is that they are mostly skills that you can practice on a regular basis (and also improve) in your work, with your colleagues and in collaborative projects.

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How to set the mood for collaboration

Image credit: O Palsson on Flickr

Did you know that the words you use can have an impact on how your team works together? Leigh Thomson, author of Creative Conspiracy: the new rules of breakthrough collaboration, found that asking people to read statements that include specific words can either encourage them to focus on themselves, or on others:

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One way to boost creativity in your team

It doesn’t matter how creative a person thinks they are, if they’re not able to share their knowledge and expertise amongst their team mates, they won’t have confidence that the team can be creative too.

For research carried out as part of his Msc in Organisational Psychology in 2013, Business Psychologist Jonti Dalal-Small identified that a team’s collective belief in how creative they are can be boosted by 50% if there was a good shared knowledge of who knows what.

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Thinking in opposites: a workshop idea

One of my favourite tasks is finding and designing activities for workshops that will get participants thinking and working together. The more workshops you run, the more you’ll look for inspiration from all places to create these.

You might come across a story or case study, a game or an interesting question that gives you an idea for an activity you can run with your team or client to stretch their thinking.

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How to get the best out of your team for more creativity

Achieving great collaboration is often a tricky balance between encouraging individuals’ expertise, and getting everyone working together as a team.

In “Collective Genius: the art and practice of leading innovation” the authors describe this as one of the paradoxes of collaboration “affirming the individual and the group”. They explain how leaders need to:

“encourage and support the individuals in their groups because they are the source of ideas that constitute the raw material of innovation. Yet the ultimate innovation will almost be a collective outcome, something devised through group interaction. Rarely will it be the result of one person’s flash of insight”.

New challenges are popping up each day that can only be solved by bringing together multiple viewpoints. But the starting point will always be the skills and knowledge that each team member brings.

So what can you do to acknowledge each person’s input and get the best out of your team?

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