Illustration by Paul Davis

Workshops, glorious workshops

If all you’ve ever known are meetings, it’s time to change

I have a small confession and I wish to be absolved of my sins. Until only a few months ago I had never been involved in a workshop with a client. I’d had countless meetings, presentations, discussions, and pitches, but never what I would have called a ‘workshop’.

I had a general idea of what a workshop meant — a structured exercise that helps the team to arrive at a desired goal. But until recently, I wrongly thought that a workshop needed to be a grand ceremony, which made the idea of conducting one quite intimidating.

It needn’t be a big event though. In fact, the first workshop I was involved in was a short exercise conducted immediately after a presentation. In this case we were showing some design concepts of a new website to the client and we wanted to see if we were heading in the right direction. To gather their feedback we stood around some print-outs of the designs that we had pinned on the wall and went around in a circle, each taking turn to share something we thought was wrong or missing. We captured each comment on a Post-it note and stuck it in the relevant position. It was so simple you could barely call it a workshop, but it was a structured exercise with rules that allowed us to quickly reach our desired goal. It felt organised, painless, efficient.

Without the structure of this exercise it would have been much harder to arrive at the pearly gates of wisdom. Ordinarily, this particular conversation would have been a seated meeting with everyone randomly shouting whatever comes to mind with a poor designer switching back and forth through slides whilst simultaneously bashing away at the keyboard in an attempt to create comprehensible notes. I know this because I’ve been that poor designer many times.

Workshops at Made by Many are often more elaborate than the aforementioned design critique and each one is designed specifically for a particular problem in a project. When designed right, workshops offer an effective means for getting the information you need from the client to move the project forward.

I’m certainly no expert in designing effective workshops, for that you’ll need to consult my colleagues but nevertheless my recent enlightenment has compelled me to preach the power of the glorious workshop.

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