Workshops are a key and common activity in every type and size of organisation and business. Workshops are typically used to develop strategic plans, roadmaps, marketing propositions, etc as well as helping to support education and training. This article looks at the use of workshops in the context of developing a strategy and how this can be improved by using an alternative way, of delivering a workshop.
A recent Harvard Business Reviewed noted that only 1 in 20 of a company’s employees know their company strategy. Part of this is attributed to the lack of collaboration and co-creation through meetings/workshops of the company’s employees, when strategising and developing the strategy. Logistically, trying to get everyone to one place at the same time is not a viable option. Maybe delivering workshops online in a collaborative environment, with all of the benefits of a conventional workshop and more, except for physically being there, is ways to get employees to co-develop a strategy. By doing this, getting buy in and ownership from employees, will facilitate strategy understanding and improved strategy execution.
Business collaboration and knowledge sharing is vital for any business, especially in today’s market. Workshops play a vital role in enabling this. Unfortunately, they might be good for meeting up, socialising and of course, helping to identify business issues and value creating opportunities, but there are a few consistent and important issues that typically keep coming up. These are:
Cost: Travel, hotels, hiring venues, travel time, etc
Post workshop follow up: completing actions are ad hoc, inconsistent workshop process to continue once people have left
Collating the content: organising and publishing it accurately can take weeks to complete
Frequency: long intervals between workshops due to the costs and logistics
Workshop fatigue: same people in the workshops due to the costs and logistics issue
So, workshops although an important and essential activity, do not always deliver their full potential value. Capturing all of the workshop content and being able to summarise, distribute it quickly to both workshop and non workshop attendee’s, is typically slow and inaccurate. Due to the time delay in distributing and inherent errors, workshop attendees forget about the workshop and become less enthusiastic.
Return On Investment (ROI) is now an even more important criteria to meet – do businesses really benefit when considering the cost, time and logistics involved? An alternative way of delivering workshops is using WaaS – Workshop as a Service. This is a relatively new way of delivering workshops for business and organisations, especially when sited in multiple locations and different time zones.
Using preconfigured workshop templates via the internet, enables Workshops to be set up and initiated within an hour of request; depending on the number of workshop attendee’s and type of workshop. The workshop is carried out in the same way as if all workshop attendees were in the same room together, with beneficial features such as:
Capturing “post its” content immediately so that everyone can see and comment on
Zero delay in publishing workshop results
Placing content into a timeline and relevant categories
Assigning scores to content such benefit, cost, impact, revenue opportunity, risk, etc so workshop attendees can compare and evaluate
Identifying relationships between content
Attaching supporting content such as documents, URLs, video, etc all in one place so that everyone can review
Assigning responsibilities to each of the content generated within the workshop as well as who is the owner
Being able to vote on specific content to make decisions quickly and collaboratively
Allowing both workshop and non workshop attendee’s to review, add comments, so creating a business social network, so that everyone can follow, contribute and understand.
Providing a platform for post workshop collaboration to continue, allowing people to reflect and make changes
In addition, workshop content can be filtered and placed into different Scenarios/Themes so that a more focused or specific view can be created immediately.
Actually meeting and socialising directly has great benefits but where people know one another the use of telephone and video conferencing is more than acceptable and is increasingly being used by businesses. When considering all of the above and the typical cost savings of up to 90%, compared to a typical physical workshop due to the extra travel time and associated costs, this is a clearly a service that businesses are starting to use for their future workshop and collaboration activities.
One WaaS just recently completed included participants from the UK, USA and Germany. The cost savings were over £20,000 due to no travel, no unproductive time and associated travelling costs. One benefit already discussed and identified by workshop attendees, is the workshop output being made immediately available to review and shared either:
Just between the workshop attendees
In a wider team within the organisation
Or publicly on the web
This again can save up to 50% on time, to get the final output distributed, whilst also being able to include a much wider audience. This in turn helps to create optimal business solutions, through collaborative strategising.
Clearly, cost savings and increased productivity are important benefits, but another benefit, which is now becoming as important, if not more, is a business Corporate Social Responsibility. Due to less travelling, significant CO2 emission reduction is achieved, which in itself positively supports:
Increased sustainability ranking
Improved company image/brand
As a result, businesses now need to rethink how they are going to increase the value gained from their workshop and collaboration activities, in order to meet the demands of the new knowledge based economy and take advantage of the benefits that are available to them. To carry on with the traditional workshop format, which has its own benefits, is no longer sustainable just by itself. Reducing operational costs can be achieved using such services as WaaS, both as an alternative and in combination with existing business processes; enhance knowledge sharing and collaboration, progress productivity, while meeting both the companies and regulatory sustainable requirements.
This is especially important and key for businesses where, innovation is a critical business process, as well as for businesses who want to be a leader in their sector, utilising business collaboration and knowledge sharing as a value adding activity.