Structured Workshops – Getting the Process Right
Structured workshops provide a clear framework within which to facilitate. To structure a workshop effectively the right process needs to be matched to the content you are dealing with.
This article is part of our short series on structured facilitation approaches. It’s based on the idea that structured facilitation can be categorised into three strands relating to content, process and skills:
Content of Team Facilitation – what is the purpose of the team and the facilitation approach;
Process for Structured Workshops – the structure and steps used to facilitate the meeting;
Process skills needed for Workshop Facilitation – the skills needed/used to facilitate the process of a structured workshop.
Here we concentrate on the process of a structured workshop. Having an understanding of process enables the workshop facilitator to get much more from meetings. A sound, structured process ensures that both facilitator and team members are free to get on with the real business of the workshop.
It should also be remembered that different content may require different processes. For exampe, a workshop aimed at idea generation will require a different process to one that is aimed at group decision-making.
Structured workshops – getting the process right
By process we mean the structure and steps used to achieve the desired outcomes of team meetings and workshops. Where teams are concerned, having the right process is especially important in three common areas:
- Decision making – where outcomes are decided by a team together, rather than by any one person. See our rational decision making model, for a guide to structured decision making.
- Problem solving – by using problem solving processes within a team. You can find an excellent seven step problem solving process and a free, downloadable problem solving flow chart in our series of problem solving articles.
- Continuous improvement of services/products, systems and processes. You can find out more about strength-based approaches to change in our change management series, and we outline a classic model in our article: change management models.
It can often be the case that any of the above processes may take more than one meeting or workshop. This is particularly so when you may need the team to go away and work on elements of the meeting before progressing to the next stage. For example, each of these areas may also involve structured workshops focused on such things as idea generation or training and skills development.
You’ll find some useful resources and tips on generating ideas in our article The Power of Positive Thinking. Or you can find more about a structure for learning in our article Leadership Exercises: Putting the Best Ideas to Work.
Discussing the content of a meeting is essential but using a clear process, one that involves and engages the team, takes well-developed process skills. Read more about how to develop these skills in Workshop Facilitation Skills.
Tools for leading structured workshops
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