A design thinking workshop is a team activity that involves multidisciplinary departments to plan and build user-centered designs prototype together. This is a hands-on activity in which team members could contribute their ideas actively during the workshop.
Pay attention to little details as you might be surprised at how these little things could be your lifesaver on the actual workshop day. Plan the duration of the workshop, since it will execute remotely a long hour might disrupt the team focus and attention to go through the itinerary. What are the types of design thinking activities that would be effective yet fun to do remotely? Get opinions and ideas from someone who has experienced holding a similar remote workshop.
Have backup plans. Take into consideration if something went wrong such as what if there is a connection error, a digital working space could not work as it normally should, or what if there are sneaky team members who try not to participate in the workshop at all. By listing the future issues that might occur, you could encounter the issues with pre-planned solutions that could save you a lot of time and energy.
Highlight the objectives and support the team to have positive mindsets towards the initiative of the company to establish the design workshop. Present the objectives and encourage the team to participate as this will not only benefits the company to create good products but also help to improve their soft skills; creative thinking, interpersonal, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
Test runs are as important as planning. How else would you know if your plan will work? Gather a few of the team members and run some tests on the activities and get their feedback. What needs to be removed from the plan and what needs to be improved? This way, you are also getting support from the team members that would appreciate a smooth remote design thinking workshop day.
No physical interactions? No problem! The right digital tools could help your team to achieve the same effectiveness as offline workshops. Mentor Levi Csanyi prefers to use Miro. He mentioned that,
“Depending on the content and the document, I used Miro a lot, and it works great. Google tools (sheet, docs, etc are great, but you may consider using predefined structure to avoid the jarring jumping effect).
The types of gadgets or hardware used during the workshop play important roles too. Levi suggested that Bluetooth headphones make it easy to walk freely before starting, but still be able to hear everything. This could make the session fun as participants' movements are not restricted to their working chairs, and they could move freely just like an offline training session.
Set compulsory digital rules into practice to ensure that everyone is participating in the workshop and it is something great to have according to Levi, such as keeping the camera on throughout the session and automatic mic mute.
Who would not want to participate in a fun and engaging workshop? Prevent your design thinking workshop from turning into long hours seminars or lectures. Play some music while team members are participating in design thinking activities such as developing ideas (funky music) or using melodramatic music to create an empathic ambiance to understand the user's problems better. Be in the mood to motivate the team to create better product solutions!
“ In my experience - there is a giant opportunity for introverts (which many of the creatives are) - collaborating on a virtual whiteboard (as opposed to the real one, where one needs to walk up and be in the middle) can be really efficient. So, I would encourage leaders to get the creatives in remote whiteboard sessions and get the juice flowing more. One can really empower others in that setup which also means trying not to follow the old waterfall ideation habits. Encourage everyone to write at the same time for like 10 minutes then moderate the next 10 minutes to discuss all the ideas. In this way, more people will have a chance to share their feedback/opinion/ideas/whatever, not just the loud ones.”
Now that you have had a great design thinking workshop- have a post-celebration with your team a few days or a week after while the memory is still fresh in your mind. Celebrate the team efforts and celebrate the completion of the sessions.
Reflect on the activities, the data, and the key learnings. Perhaps, you can create another better remote design thinking workshop in the future!
Thanks again to our mentor Levi Csanyi for his contribution to this blog. 🙌🏻
Find out more on what is service design with mentor Gavin Mandrelle, a Service Designer at RMIT University, Australia!