Let’s face it: online meetings can be awkward, especially when you don’t know anyone in the video call. You might still be waking up with your first cup of coffee while someone else is bouncing with energy in a later time zone.
Creating Impact via Remote Workshops: Interview with Jenny Price
Jenny Price is a designer, strategist, and program director. As a design facilitation leader and mentor in her current work, she guides higher education teams through discussions and strategies for enhancing community engagement and experiences.
She also serves as the president's council chair of the AIGA. where she is a liaison between chapters and the AIGA board of directors.
We caught up with her to discuss a recent project she is running along with Katrin Loss, President of AIGA Minnesota, called EMERGE 2.0. [Additionally, meet the entire team who made EMERGE 2.0 possible.]
Read on to find out more about it.
JIM: Tell us little about your project. How did EMERGE 2.0 get started? What is the objective of the effort?
JENNY: EMERGE was created as a result of Pop–Up Innovate Mash–Up which was one of the original AIGA Innovate grants. Six AIGA chapters met to develop along the goals of relevancy and cultivating transformative community impact through the engagement of design.
The issue is that for young designers entering into the profession, honing new skills, networking, and career decisions can be daunting. Those freshly graduated young professionals often disconnect from AIGA at a moment of their career, when membership value seems key and when building personal relationships for future leadership roles become critical.
Our solution: EMERGE Awareness Week, launched in 2016, in which eight chapters around the country created events tailored to emerging designers which included shareable components for active participation via live-streaming and other tools. The purpose of EMERGE is to engage emerging designers (0-5 years after graduation).
Providing tangible events, experience, and opportunities through customizable content that can help to advance their career paths. Additionally, inspire members and prospective members, as well as each participating chapters’ and communities’ needs in the areas of Employment, Growth, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Life Skills.
Since then EMERGE chapter events have been happening across the country. Chapters have created EMERGE chair positions as part of their boards and have cross-promoted other chapters’ EMERGE experiences, generating a wider level of accessibility. EMERGE is transforming how we interconnect our communities and respond to key member needs.
Thanks to the July 2017 AIGA Innovate Grant awarded, the goal is to grow and expand EMERGE to reach new, more diverse audiences, members, and prospective members, 0-5 years after graduation, in partnership with the Diversity and Inclusion task-force. Providing engaging experiences that demonstrate the value and benefits of being an AIGA member to those we have not yet reached.
JIM: What was the impact of EMERGE 2.0?
JENNY: There are several things that came out of the event:
- Offers customizable content specific to chapter’s and community’s needs in the areas of employment, growth, leadership, entrepreneurship, and life skills
- Builds a more personal relationship for sustained and future leadership roles
- Advances diversity in member/non-member participation, reaching new and underserved audiences
JIM: Great. Thanks for that background. Can you tell us a little about the remote setting? How did you approach running the two events with a distributed group?
JENNY: The online workshop series included 28 design leaders from 20 different AIGA chapters, including 6 members of the national D&I task-force and 6 IBM F.Act Summit facilitator graduates. Making it the largest first of its kind online collaboration of AIGA leaders from across the country to-date.
Each workshop team was comprised of 5-6 AIGA chapter leaders who's chapter has produced an EMERGE event, 1 member of the Diversity and Inclusion national task-force, guided by 1 team lead support facilitator. The goal of the team lead support facilitator was to keep their team on track and in guiding them through the exercises provided to the larger group. We had 5 teams allowing for 5 different work-streams with 2 additional support facilitators flexing between assigned teams for additional guidance.
In collaboration with IBM Design, we integrated key design thinking exercises and consulted with IBM to ensure our agenda plan and MURAL setup was flawless. Myself along with Katrin Loss led the 7 lead team support facilitators through a separate on-boarding training to walk-through the MURAL based design thinking exercises, overall goals, and intended outcomes. In advance of the workshop series the participants were briefed on the workshop agenda, timing, goals, tools, and intended outcomes.
This online collaborative workshop series and subsequent team work was conducted using MURAL, Zoom, Slack, Doodle, and Google Drive. We also surveyed all participants to gauge their EMERGE related experience, chapter background, as wellas design thinking knowledge. Providing participants with a pre-work exercise in MURAL in order to get acclimated to the tools and get to know each other in advance of the workshop commencing.
Click the video below to see how they did it:
JIM: What were the top challenges the group faced? What would you do differently if you could?
JENNY: We call these learnings and have identified the following items based on a post-workshop survey completed by all participants.This feedback along with the experience helped us identify items for future considerations for the overall approach taken:
- Onboarding participants and facilitators by assigning pre-work exercises ensured a smooth process using MURAL, Zoom, and Slack.
- Inviting members of the AIGA Diversity and Inclusion national taskforce to participate in the workshop made for a knowledgeable and insightful discussion.
- Breaking participants into 4-6 person teams and assigning facilitators to each team allowed for all voices to be heard; teams got more comfortable with each other as time progressed. More support staff would have been helpful for facilitators to focus though.
- Sharing resources and reference materials for design thinking methodologies and diversity & inclusion topics provided a framework and point of reference for participants.
- Adding 25 user research/interviews, as a component of the session homework, delivered additional insights. We feel the outcomes could have been better affected if we pre-selected interviewees in advance.
- Splitting the workshop into different parts allowed for time to reflect and course-correct (pivot). We have reflected that it could be beneficial to divide the hands-on sessions into more yet shorter segments.
JIM: What key advice would you give a facilitator of a remote session?
JENNY: Be ready to pivot. Remote facilitation comes with a multitude of variables and challenges. Being able to prepare and plan for each potential variable is wise though not realistic. However, being able to pivot, when something does not goes as planned, in a seamless and professional manner can help lead to an undiscovered, potentially more successful outcome.
I am personally excited to continue practicing and hone my remote facilitation abilities from the discoveries made to-date.
Jim Kalbach is a noted author, speaker, and instructor in customer experience, experience design, digital transformation, and strategy.
February, 23 2018