Defining and developing your product can feel like an elusive task. But it doesn’t have to.
You’ve experienced this before: a creative team comes together for a workshop. Maybe it’s new project or you need to brainstorm new product together. Everyone is stoked, and there’s magic in the air.
But what happens afterward?
Sure, you may have assigned “homework” for specific team members. You may even have an action plan for concrete next steps with “owners.”. But often times you lose momentum quickly--sometimes instantly. That magic evaporates.
Worse, there may be a type of “amnesia” that sets in after the real-time workshop is over. “What did we decide? Who volunteered to do what? How are we going to implement what we came up with?”
You may even find yourself thinking you want a “do-over,” searching for a second chance to soak up all of the things you somehow missed the first time around.
Typically one or two are left in charge of summarizing the workshop. This includes photographs of the whiteboards and separate documents with information transposed from sticky notes. The task is not only a big burden on those individuals, it also loses a lot of the original context.
Image 1: Typically people take photos of whiteboard sticky notes to remember them.
Digital collaboration offers an alternative. Even if you’re together in the same room, consider capturing your workshop output digitally from the very beginning. Online whiteboards provide an excellent environment to capture, cluster, and rework ideas in an ongoing way--well after the event is over.
Here are three big advantages to capturing collaboration digitally:
1. No loss of context
There’s a need to transcribe or photograph the workshop output after it’s over. With digital collaboration, the workspace and output don’t change form. Participants have complete, direct access to the workshop content as it was created.
Image 2: Real time design workshops are rich in context that literally gets "cleaned up" after the session, losing much of the original context of thought.
2. Easy to continue modeling
Continue working with the workshop material after the real-time session is over. If everything is digital, you can copy a group of notes, for instance, and try alternative clustering. There’s no reason why collaboration has to end when the workshop is over. And there’s no reason to stop modeling your ideas in different ways.
Image 3: Continue modeling and making sense of your workshop even after the session is over.
Pro Tip: This is especially useful if you have team members who were absent, or are difficult to connect with because of differences in time zone.
3. Ability to share with others
Working digitally makes sharing a snap. Loop in people who weren’t at the workshop, along with an explanation what they are looking at. This lets you replay the team’s thought process for others. Better yet, teammates can add their input and continue to develop your thought process. Digital whiteboards are inclusive beyond the workshop team.
Image 4: With the share feature on Mural.ly, it's easy to loop in others who missed a workshop session.
Let’s not kid ourselves: tools alone don’t ensure better outcomes: they are no replacement for hard work and follow-through. . This point is that the form your collaboration takes can open new possibilities and help keep your momentum going long after your meeting is over.
Avoid workshop amnesia by thinking “digital first” from the beginning and plan to capture you work online as you go. At MURAL, we find digital collaboration invaluable. We encourage you to try it to complement your offline workshop practices.
Jim Kalbach is a noted author, speaker, and instructor in customer experience, experience design, digital transformation, and strategy.
April, 13 2015