What’s the right flow for a capability-building workshop?
Great workshops are always a balance of dynamism, inspiration and interaction. In our experience, there are six vital stages to the perfect flow.
Passionbrand progress 6-segment workshop scheme
WHY: People come to sessions with different ideas about what the subject means. Or are just plain fuzzy. Without clarity at the outset, confusion is guaranteed later.
HOW: Group involvement. Get people’s definitions/ideas out on the table. Propose tight, clear definition and ask that everyone agree. Discuss if necessary but gain agreement.
WHY: People can sometimes arrive at a workshop only partially ready to engage. They need something early on to convince them that this really matters – and not just to the business but to them, in their careers. The aim is to get everyone in the room fully alert, positively engaged.
HOW: Raise sights. Show the difference mastery of this subject can make to the brand. Give examples. Show the difference it can make to the individuals in the room – how it can advance their careers, make their personal professional brand more valuable.
WHY: People need a step-by-step way to tackle the subject – whether it’s segmen-tation, insights, communications – and to be clear on how to develop it in different situations to best-practice standards.
HOW: Combination of methodologies: audio-visual engagement, example-rich presentation of steps, dos and don’ts, small-group work on set tasks, interactive sessions.
WHY: It is vital that people do not just ‘go through the motions’ to arrive at an ade-quate solution. We need to raise their sights to the level of world-leading excel-lence and show them how to judge their own first attempts, and then keep going.
HOW: Juxtaposition: a ‘good’ one (e.g. a good insight) versus a great one (e.g. a great insight). What are the differences? Why do they matter? Small-group and ple-nary work to practise judgement and find ways to move from one level to higher one.
WHY: Prepare people for the fact that real-world practice can throw up unexpected hurdles or complications that can confuse the situation. Ensure they have the mental and emotional resources to meet complications and surmount them, or even use them to advantage, and keep on track.
HOW: Small-group tasks, into which we introduce randomised external or internal factors. Examples to show how others have turned complications to advantage.
WHY: Link the session to a live issue relevant right now to the people in the room – e.g. if the (subject) is segmentation, start to develop a robust segmentation approach for their market.
HOW: Plenary and small-group work, interactive – followed up after the workshop with continuous coaching on the ‘live’ task.
Notes on the workshop scheme
The workshops will not normally be chopped up rigidly into the six segments, and they will not all necessarily be signposted, but the workshop flow will always take this kind of shape and order, and all six segments will be represented in the underlying structure of the day or days.
Two segments tend not to be applied in typical marketing workshops and merit a little extra analysis here:
In most learning theory, this factor appears neglected. Yet for adult learning especially – post school or
university, where different imperatives exist – motivation is key. While employees will, of course, turn up for sessions because they are expected to, they will only fully engage if they see that the session will help them personally, in the furtherance of their careers.
To wish to ‘progress to the next level’ is a typical desire of marketers, and one that we deliberately invoke in this segment of the session, linking mastery of the subject in question to both progress for the brand and progress (with all its rewards) for the individual.
It’s one thing to master a subject in the class, quite another to apply it in the seething, ungoverned world. The essential concept explored in this segment is that of resistance: the headwinds people can expect to face when they try to apply what they have learned for real. This is not a ‘downer’ (the session is usually the most fun of all, with its ‘randomized’ elements, like the ‘dice game’ below), but is a vital preparation for reality.
This is where we stiffen sinews, gird loins and provide people with inner resourcefulness to overcome
unexpected issues and complications. Without this segment, there can be disappointment and disillusionment in the delicate period when people first try to take their learning and apply it for real.
J&J DICE GAME
In ‘Building brand equity’ workshops for J&J senior marketers, we set activation tasks for break-out groups to work on. Then we set the same, or similar, tasks again but introduced a random element: the ‘dice throw’.
Two giant dice were introduced, one representing external factors, the other internal. On each side of each of the dice was a random ‘factor’ that represented the kind of sudden intervention that could happen in the real world: e.g. ‘new legislation bans ingredient’ on the external die, or ‘marketing budgets cut by 50%’ on the internal one.
Both dice were rolled to give a combination of two new factors that now had to be taken into account by teams working on their activation tasks. They would be encouraged to show not just how they had coped with these new factors in their activation plans but, ideally, how they had found creative ways to use them to advantage.
There would be no way to ‘prepare’ for this segment beforehand, since there would be no way of knowing which of the 36 different two-dice combinations would be rolled. The sessions were usually immensely energised, creative, and exciting – because even the trainers would be caught by surprise.