Solutions Workshop

My recent studio concept was a workshop that lead participants through a process that would allow them to develop solutions to various problems. The content of the workshop was based on findings from our research. Our focus was on developing an understanding of the systems current on-boarding experience. The research informed the creation of seven topics related to new managers to focus on and develop improvements for. Prior to the workshop, we emailed the participants and introduced these topics.  We asked them to reply with the top three topics they would like to focus on then we created groups for the workshop based on these selections.
Meghan and I expected the workshop to allow the participants to begin developing solutions by the end of the workshop. The participants were given tools to help them through this process. Each part of the workshop was broken down into sections and each section included tools to help facilitate the process.
The first part of the workshop allowed the groups to discuss their personal experience surrounding their topic. This conversation helped get everyone on the same page. The groups were given a form with three guiding questions to help capture what was revealed during this discussion so they could refer to it later when developing a concept. Some groups had a hard time committing their answers to the forms and we, as facilitators, had to go around to each table and encourage the groups to start documenting what was being discussed.
The second part of the workshop allotted three minutes to brainstorm “blue-sky” ideas and three minutes to brainstorm “feasible” ideas. The participants were encouraged to produce 20 ideas for each brainstorming session and there was a prize for the group that generated the most ideas. After the brainstorming sessions, the groups clustered their ideas to identify common themes. They then posted their top three clusters on a poster-board. This poster-board was used to share the clusters with the rest of the participants in the workshop. Each group shared their top three ideas and received feedback on what they had generated. Once each group shared their ideas and feedback was given, there was time for a break.
After the break, the groups were given tools to help storyboard one topic of focus based on the three clusters. We explained that they needed to review their ideas and create a single topic of focus. They were also allowed to combine ideas if it was appropriate.
The tools they were given to help storyboard their ideas were cards labeled “who,” “what,” “where,” and “when.” These cards allotted space to allow the groups to define what their card was representing. These cards were placed onto a board which allowed them to visualize how the concept would work. The board was broken up into three time frames; pre-hire, first 180 days, and on-going support. Each time frame had a space designated on the bottom for the participants to explain how their concept would work in each phase of the process.
Once all of the groups had a rough story laid out, we had them each present the concept they developed. After all of the groups presented, we had a discussion session to review what we had accomplished in the workshop. The participants were asked about how they like the experience and if they can see this technique being used in other departments throughout the healthcare system.

The workshop ran very smoothly. We had to make accommodations for the people who were not able to attend and were able to change the workshop from five groups to four without disrupting the flow. All of the participants were very engaged. I think this was because of the scaffolding we supplied them with. The sequence of events helped to guide the participants. Delivering forms and creating structure for each part of the workshop allowed the participants to focus on developing their prototype without  having to worry about “how” they would go about developing their prototype. We were able to be flexible with the time allotted for each section which allowed the groups to extend their discussions when needed. The feedback that we received from the participants was very positive. They all felt that they had learned something new and valuable and appreciated the opportunity to problem solve in diverse groups.

We can improve on the structure of the story board. Many of the groups realized that it was important for a lot of work to be done before the first day of the new manager. Our storyboard design broke the time into three equal parts which was flexible considering what they were developing. In the future, we should let the participants define the time frame. Creating a more flexible method to define the time would have helped the participants develop their concepts more organically instead of forcing the set time constraints. I also feel that we needed more time for this particular section. Flushing out the final concept included a lot of group discussion and the 35 minutes allotted was not enough. We were able to extend it a bit but only by 10 minutes. One suggestion from the feedback form was to have this workshop extend an entire day. That would have allowed for more time to develop concepts and to receive feedback. Extending the time of the workshop would also allow for more of a group discussion at the end.

I also think there was opportunity for us as facilitators to work with each group more. There were times when they seemed a little confused or stuck on a specific exercise. I think we did a good job of recognizing most of these incidents but going forward I think we should have intervened a little more.


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