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Running Workshops: Learn From My Mistakes

Running Workshops: Learn From My Mistakes


Notes from the day after!

I worked with a great set of clients yesterday on an insight workshop. I had conducted a number of consumers depths (speaking to respondents in person after they had used the Visionslive app for them to record their behaviour). So the workshop was a ‘download’ of the consumer insight in order to develop insight statements. Here’s what worked well, and some thoughts on what I could have done better

Worked well: Looking, really seeing
I kicked off the workshop with a video (stitched together from research participants ‘selfies’) and some pictures of what our research participants recorded. We spent time looking, noting down what we were seeing and commenting on this. Great exercise, got people into the world we were starting to explore

Needed more work: Stuffy room, not enough breaks
I didn’t think enough about the team and their comfort – bad hostess! The room was stuffy and the team spontaneously stopped after about an hour and took an impromptu break.

Worked well: research participants stories
Rather than standing up and presenting findings about the consumer depths I wrote up stories based on key occasions that emerged from the research. I split the teams into two, with one person in each team reading each story. The group chatted through what they’d heard, what their take out was from the stories. I think the insights embedded much better than they would have done in a traditional debrief.

Needed more work
Overload: we had too much stuff to get through before we started writing up our insight statements. I think I should have prepared more in advance with some pre-reading as part of the process so we could focus on sharing thoughts on the day. This would have given us more time for shared thinking to percolate and we could have spent more time ‘making connections’. I think its best to build in contingency time in workshops – everything always takes longer than you think it will.

Worked well
Stretching. I got the team doing a practise exercise to help them understand about ‘deep insight’. The exercise was new to the team, and stretched their thinking, but I think this really warmed them up to the concept writing part of the workshop. I think the learning here is to build in practise exercises to help people think differently/ in the way your process demands.

Jury’s out – what do you think about this?
We had a moment in the workshop that went like this:
Participants: this is how it is for me (lots of conversations about their own experiences)
Me: you seem to be talking more about yourselves than consumers. Why is that? I think it could be because you aren’t listening properly.
bq. Ouch – that felt uncomfortable – Although I probably didn’t say it as abruptly as that, but I did sense an intake of breath from the participants!

On the positive side – it felt true, and it was a turning point in the day, people did ‘get their focus back’
On the negative side – I felt bad, and I wonder if it created a little antagonism between me and them?

In the future, I’d try to do stop the ‘self talk’ happening (too much) in the first place (I have a great Anais Nin quote that I often use: “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” but I forgot to use it.) If I needed to remind people to listen better/ focus more, I’d try to remind them of the ground rules from the set up stage…

Happy workshopping – always a learning experience!


Kath Rhodes, Qual Street Owner

I love love learning and so I invest time and resources with Ambreen and Claire into exploring social psychology, neuro science, creativity and new techniques in research. Read all about it and help yourself to the ideas that will deliver your business the insight it needs

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@Qualstreet on 12 March 2019