Field Report: Online Workshops for Agile and Innovative Organizations
Today, together with Harald Karrer, I would like to report on an experience we had together last week: the implementation of a three-day strategy workshop for a company in the Gulf region, entirely in remote mode. A total of 3 countries, 5 locations and 10 people with 7 nationalities were involved.
(by Christof Sauke and Harald Karrer)
Use Online Workshops profitably
Looking to the future with online workshops
Let us say one thing in advance: Online workshops are about much more than just using the digital possibility of letting people in different places and time zones communicate with each other in sound and vision. Many people and organizations are meanwhile able to do so.
Nor is it primarily about simply trying out something new or following the general trend of digitalization. We believe that online workshops help today making organizations competent for the tomorrow.
We would like to share some experiences from our workshop mentioned above. Besides the actual workshop topic, the general objective was to help the organization to be successful in the future in the rapidly changing environment. So to speak, to have a kind of “look to the future” and from there to dock into the present.
This requires a high degree of mobility and agility – in short, what should generally be understood by the term ‘agility’. In our opinion, this is an important aspect in a strategy workshop. After all, agility has a lot to do with the ability to innovate … and we will all need this urgently in the future.
And this is where great added value is created for the company: The workshop format itself becomes part of the strategy!
Collaboration and co-creation are the magic words in this context. There are now excellent, supportive online tools for both, for example virtual whiteboards. In our workshop we used MIRO as such a virtual whiteboard and conducted a strategy development process online with 10 participants. During the various development, clarification and specification steps, the whiteboard, on which we saw the 10 cursors of the participants busily moving, reminded us of Flightradar, an app on which the movements of airplanes in the sky can be followed. It was particularly important for the client and the participants that the process had led to a goal that can now be launched operationally via a clearly defined action step.
What makes Online Workshops successful
In short, successful online workshops must first be focused on content and compressed in time. We are convinced of that.
Furthermore, they should be sufficiently structured. The workshop participants need to permanently operate on different levels. In addition to the content aspects, technical skills and new communication channels therefore play an important role. Workshop participants may easily lose track if the orientation is not clear at all times. Visual anchors can be of great help here and provide the necessary guidance.
We have listed 5 points for you, which in our opinion represent the quintessence of a successful online workshop:
#1 Focused on content
Of course, a focus on content is important for every workshop. In online mode, however, this is even more true because the time frame is much more limited than in face-to-face workshops. This demands a high degree of discipline from the participants. The limited time available must be consistently focused on the goal (this is especially important for moderation – after all, participants should be able to concentrate on what they are doing). Excessive digressions should therefore be stopped as far as possible.
#2 Condensed in time
We believe that the necessary concentration and capacity of the participants in online workshops (even when taking a break) is exhausted after 3 to 4 hours per day. At least this is true for groups for which working in online mode is not yet routine.
#3 Well structured
Online workshops must be structured in a particularly clear and comprehensible way. This also applies in principle to face-to-face workshops. However, questions and misunderstandings do not always become visible so quickly in online workshops, so that the necessary clarification cannot be initiated. It is particularly helpful here to operate in a moderation tandem.
#4 Visually communicated
That pictures say more than a thousand words is nothing new. So the advantages of visual communication are more than familiar, even from on-site workshops. For online workshops, however, good visualization is far more important. Good visualization gets to the heart of even complicated issues and can reduce complexity. Graphic elements are therefore essential. This is especially true for international groups, where language barriers are added to the general challenges in communication.
#5 Digitally inspired
Good online workshops can also be an impulse to develop the digital skills of a team or individuals. Getting to know a new, particularly effective online tool can give a team a significant development boost in its working methods and thus become part of a future strategy.
Let us get to the point: We see online workshops as much more than just a substitute solution for face-to-face workshops that cannot be realized! We believe that teams achieve exceptional results with the help of excellent and creatively designed online workshops, both within companies and across company boundaries (e.g. with clients and partners). It is therefore obvious that we will continue to develop this form of workshops and actively offer it to our customers. We can satisfy your curiosity for this immediately – please contact us:
Christof Sauke / perspective: international (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Harald Karrer / Visuals for Business (email@example.com)
He founded perspective: international in 2013. He works as a strategic advisor, operative facilitator and interim manager with many years of experience in internationalization and international business development.