My new book “Workshop Culture: A Guide to Building Teams That Thrive” is published by Practical Inspiration on 21st November 2023.

What if every day at work felt like your team’s most productive ‘away day’?

The most successful and innovative teams and organisations are highly collaborative, creative and productive – you will find the principles of great workshops infused throughout their culture.

This is a book about how running great workshops, and taking inspiration from them, can lead to a great team environment. Workshop Culture will show you how to create a happy and engaged team through small actions that lead to big results. It features a practical and accessible toolkit to help improve your team’s performance and productivity.

You can order your copy here.

Workshop Culture features a Foreword by Alex Osterwalder, CEO of Strategyzer and inventor of the Business Model Canvas and has some wonderful endorsements from leading authors including Amy C. Edmondson, Jake Knapp, Sunni Brown and Nathalie Nahai.

Here, I’d like to share a bit more about what’s inside the book – the format, contents, tools, exercises, and frameworks that are featured, and how you can best use the book to get real results for your team.

Background

Workshop Culture comes from my experience of facilitating workshops to support teams with their culture. A few years back, I started noticing a connection between what I was seeing happening in a workshop – collaboration, creativity, engagement and motivation and what we wanted to see on an ongoing basis in our team cultures. I was also feeling slightly frustrated after that great time a team had together in a workshop and being very excited and motivated at the end of a session, how they would lose that energy once they got back to their desks and business as usual.

So I started to explore what we needed to do to continue that energy beyond the end of the workshop. If what we see in a workshop – the collaboration, engagement, productivity and creativity –  is what we want in our teams for the long term, how do we make that happen?

In 2016, I developed the term “workshop culture” and embarked on a mission to define what this meant. I wrote a blog post and delivered a couple of talks titled “Workshop Culture for a Better Workplace” and it seemed to resonate. What I’ve been doing since then is compiling research, testing out practices and tools and building it into a practical framework which is included in the book.

How it’s structured

The book has three parts:

Part 1: Identifying the problem

Workshop Culture starts with some background and context as to why collaboration is important and why a workshop culture is necessary. There is a focus on bad meetings as meetings are a real problem in organisations today (if we were to just address this it might go some way to addressing culture and collaboration), but the book also touches on the need for purpose and engagement in our work and why workshops are the solution to this.

Part 2: Introducing a workshop culture

Whether you are a leader of a team or someone in that team who wants to introduce more collaboration and better ways of working, before we get into the practical stages of implementing a workshop culture, it’s important to understand your role as a change agent. Part 2 covers the skills and mindset that are required to get ready to introduce these concepts to your team. While a workshop culture is largely about running workshops, there is also more to it, and it may be a challenging journey. Part 2 prepares you for what’s to come, and how to develop those skills to make your journey more successful.

Part 3: The Framework

Part 3 is about practically introducing a workshop culture and features the five-pillar framework we’ve developed at Bracket to support the teams we work with:

  • Alignment – the bigger picture
  • Cohesion – self-awareness and connection
  • Communication – meetings and workshops
  • Design – designing new ways of working
  • Change – continuous improvement
Bracket’s five-pillar framework

The framework is not necessarily designed as a step-by-step process. But if you’re new to doing this, you do want to start with the Alignment pillar. You can take an assessment at www.workshopculture.co.uk to see where your team sits to get an indication of where to start. When you’ve identified this, you can then come back to the book for the exercises and tools that will help you.

Illustrations

Throughout the book, some key concepts have been illustrated by Gabija Janksauskaite (who also did the wonderful cover design). Workshop culture is very much about visual thinking so this is also an important piece.

An example:

Demonstrating the need to balance between people and business, thinking and doing. A centre circle that says "collaboration" an outer circle that says "facilitation" , around the circle -- design mindset, strategic thinking, behaviour change and ideas to action.
Introducing a workshop culture

Call out boxes

Case studies

There are also some anonymous case studies included, based on my work with clients, to provide practical examples of each of the five pillars. While each case study is based on a specific team, there are also dynamics that I’ve seen across several teams I’ve worked with, so you may recognise some of these characteristics in your teams too.

“Reflection” boxes

There are more reflection boxes towards the start of the book which a towards the start of the book which are for you to reflect on how these concepts might apply to your team, without yet having to put anything in practice. This gives you a chance to think about your existing team culture, where there are opportunities to improve and what you might want to do. For example, at the start of the book, we have a “Before you start” exercise, which encourages you to think about the vision you have for your team.

Reflection box

“Try this” boxes

As the book transitions towards putting things in practice, you’ll find some more “try this” boxes to share exercises, workshops and discussions you might run with your team to support you through the pillars. For example, running a Workshop Culture workshop, which is quite meta, but might be the first time you have a focused conversation about how you work together.

Toolkit

The end of the book has a compiled list of the “reflection” and “try this” exercises, and this forms the Workshop Culture toolkit. After you’ve read the book, you may want to go through all of the exercises in turn, or you could come back in the future when you want to run a specific exercise. All of the page numbers are listed by the exercises so you can find them easily. 

Summary

I’ve included a full summary of the book – a synopsis of each chapter. While I recommend first giving the book a read-through from start to finish, in the future, you might want to come back to a specific concept or idea. You can use the summary to briefly familiarise yourself with the full book again and find what you need. 

The whole book is designed to be easy to read, in bite-sized chunks of 250-500 word sections, so you can go through it from start to finish, you can also come back and read a section when you’d like a reminder.

Order your copy of “Workshop Culture: A Guide to Building Teams That Thrive”.