Feb 13, 2020

Workshops can be more efficient than meetings

Avoid endless discussion and get things done with workshops

Say, your team gets a new project with a challenge to “Design better wayfinding for hospital X”. Things are very abstract and everyone has different opinions. At this point, meetings most likely will be less effective because you’ll need hours of discussion to get alignment.

The biggest contrast between meetings and workshops is the discussion structure. Meetings require a linear discussion; which means, one person talks, then the other person talks, and so on. Workshops, on the other hand, will be much effective because it allows parallel discussion.

Benefits of workshops

Parallel discussion

Give everyone post-it and sharpie. Everyone can start writing their opinions or ideas, at the same time. You’ll get very diverse ideas for less than 5 minutes, that otherwise will take more than 30 minutes to discuss all of them in a meeting.

Everyone has an equal voice

No matter what your title or position in the company, the workshop equalizes the voice level because everyone’s voices represented in the post-it. It’s a great way to avoid the loudest voice in the room to win. Also, give a voice to the silent one.

Collaborative and real-time alignment

Workshops allow everyone to contribute their perspective; questions, ideas, or insights. Imagine, if a designer in your team explores ideas for 2 days alone. Chances are, the exploration can’t be very diverse. Then, your team will hold a meeting to review the designer’s work just to find out the work is not aligned with the product vision.

What if, instead, everyone in the team spends 2 hours doing a brainstorming session? Not only the idea become more diverse. It also allows real-time alignment because everyone agrees and makes a decision together. As a result, your project can move forward faster.

Guided conversation

Unlike meetings, in workshops, there is a formal facilitator to facilitate the activity. Needless to say, this is beneficial because there’s somebody who really manages the discussion, helps the team understand the agenda, and move the team along until producing the expected output.

Feedback from real people

Last month, In Bukalapak, we started to encourage people to consider workshop format instead of meetings. Here are a few words from people who tried the workshop format:

“I love we have a rich perspective to solve one big challenge together.” Product Manager

“From this activity, I started to understand what concerns that PM and Designer have. It gives me an opportunity to help and contribute more.” Data Scientist

“I wouldn’t imagine if we can come up with all of these ideas. I’m excited to keep doing this in next projects” Researcher

Closing note

Challenge: Workshops require a facilitator Althought workshops can be useful, it has a specific challenge too. It requires someone to facilitate the conversation and have some level of proficiency in a few methods to direct the project. It’s also important that the facilitator come prepared with the agenda to make sure the workshop is effective and achieve the goal. That being said, the workshop can be efficient but it centered on how well the facilitator manages the workshop.

Nothing wrong with meetings There’s nothing wrong with meetings. Meetings can be a good format when you need to report, monitor the project, or do some work review. But, for some instances when your team needs to make a decision and get things done, the workshop can be a better alternative.

The last thing you want is to sit down for 1-2 hours and end up with nothing other than debates or endless discussion. Share this with your team and start trying 30 minutes or a 1-hour workshop to get things done.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to have an efficient way to collaborate through the workshop?

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