Before we go into the workshop structure, it's important to note the preparation. Talk to the whole group or to each participant if necessary. Together align on why you are doing the workshop — the purpose, and what the group wants to achieve in the end — the goal. For example, the purpose could be to improve communication in a team and the goal — a set of ground rules. Stage 1. Set the Stage
This part is quite simple. Reiterate both the purpose and the goal of the session. Explain the facilitation techniques you are going to use. This will ensure a smooth flow throughout the workshop. Stage 2. Generate Ideas Recommended techniques
: small group discussions, individual writing, round-robin, stacking, or 1–2–4-All.
At this stage, the goal is to generate the basis for the resulting list. Any technique for generating ideas will work here and I usually timebox this part to 7 minutes. My preferred technique is small group discussions — break up the group into pairs or trios and let them discuss. Other alternatives could be stacking (participants speak one by one in the order predefined by a facilitator ) or 1–2–4-All
from Liberating Structures. If the environment doesn't permit group breakouts, e.g. in an online meeting without the proper tooling, individual writing could be an option. As a result, you get a bunch of stickies with various ideas.
During Generate Ideas
it's crucial to start with the right question (if you are a Liberating Structures fan, think of Structuring Invitation
). A well-formulated question will elicit relevant and thoughtful ideas. An unclear question will only confuse the participants. Express clearly what outcome you expect from the group. Be creative and inspiring. Help the group engage with their answers and bring their focus to the agreement that is the goal of the session. Here's a couple of examples of good questions:
Stage 3. Group and Prioritize Recommended techniques:
- For a Definition of Done workshop: "What characteristics should a backlog item have so that when you look at it you can honestly say that it is 'done'?"
- For a team ground rules session: "What are the most basic, fundamental agreements you as a team need to stay productive and keep healthy climate?"
- For a team quality standards discussion: "What are the coding standards that are the absolute necessity to keep your source code at a quality level that you will be proud of?"
By this point, the group has generated a lot of ideas. Make sure each participant understands them well. Ask the participants to read their ideas aloud and encourage the group to ask clarifying questions. The most obvious ideas can be skipped. Don't be afraid to ask questions yourself if you suspect something may not be clear to the group. During this process cluster similar ideas together. It is important for the next step when the group will prioritize their suggestions.