Designing Effective Workshops

Kaufman Global regularly leads individuals and teams at all levels of the organization through highly structured facilitation sessions. These can range from brief interactions with a single person such as progressive executive coaching episodes, to large groups of participants who need to solve a problem together. Over the years we’ve found  workshops to be one way to rapidly and effectively encourage team work, promote engagement, drive consensus, AND… ensure we actually have the much needed, but sometimes glossed over, healthy debate!  Some of the most common sessions we conduct with clients include:

  • Kaizen (Rapid Improvement) Events to address critical issues in production, supply chain, service delivery, and functional / administrative areas.
  • Strategy, Mission, Vision and Values Workshops – In fact, one of our best known sessions was done with the Oregon State Hospital and led to the Hope, Safety, and Recovery culture that is thoroughly embedded today not only at OSH, but at other state hospitals around the country (after they witnessed it at OSH).
  • Managers Lean Overview – This is a workshop we’ve delivered hundreds of times to thousands of managers and supervisors. It’s always customized, but contains at a minimum these elements: Leaders Role in Transformation, select Lean Tool awareness / orientation, Secrets of Human Behavior and Opportunity Identification activities.

In any such session, the key to successful facilitation lies in the upfront design and planning. While some of the tools and methods we employ are standard, the overall experience must be customized to the client’s objectives, audience and culture. When this is done well, we maximize the involvement and engagement of the participants and in return, derive the greatest value from the investment of their time and expertise. Our approach to designing and customizing facilitation episodes includes consideration of:

  • Objectives – Through initial client communication, we gain an understanding of the session’s overarching driver and objectives. In that discussion we learn about concerns, needs and urgency as well as the preferred topic concentration that might compel a workshop span of anywhere from a half-day to a week long.
  • Charter – From the initial collaboration we then draft a workshop charter. This charter promotes vital alignment and level sets expectations. It also relays to stakeholders a concise description of the issue(s) we seek to resolve along with other important information such as: naming the sponsor; identifying the facilitators; selecting the participants; and, episode logistics (such as venue, timing and meal requirements). Once these basic elements are understood, team and stakeholder invitations are sent and more detailed planning begins – such as training module selection and material requirements.
  • Storyboard – To accomplish that planning and go a level deeper, we storyboard the workshop. In that activity, we describe the basic sequence of events and deliverables. A high level workshop flow often follows a sequence similar to:

Sequence of steps for designing effective workshops

  • Agenda – An agenda tracking the charter and storyboard framework is then prepared to keep the facilitated workshop’s hourly and daily activities on track. In this, each workshop is customized according to the challenges at-hand, meaning, specific tools and techniques are selected by the facilitator to meet expectations. Similarly, adequate time is allocated for the agenda’s various learning elements, investigations and breakout team functions.