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Facilitate an Emergent Organization workshop

This is a workshop format that is particularly useful for a group of people (regardless if they know each other) to coordinate on (1) what work needs to be done? and (2) who's going to do it? It's an alternative to a hierarchical/centralized way of coordinating around work to be done.
A summary of a workshop in-practice can be found here.

Preamble

The workshop needs to be centered around some work that a group of people should coordinate around. It's okay if it's not clear what that work should be. An example that we've used is "What problems have you experienced with conferences?"

Step 1: Problems

Ask the participants to ideate on the problems that exist within the chosen topic.
Ask the participants to affinity map the post-its and give each problem cluster a name. Within an organization you could consider that these problem clusters might map onto departments.

Step 2: Solutions

Ask the participants to ideate on solutions for each problem cluster.
Then do a round of dot voting on the solutions and rank them according to their votes. Make a selection of the top voted solutions. This can be for instance the top voted solution per problem cluster.

Step 3: Tasks

Ask the participants to ideate on what tasks would be involved to bring each of the selected solutions into fruition.
Remove duplicate tasks and re-order them in rough chronological order.
Ask the participants to put their name on any task they feel willing and inspired to take responsibility for. Emphasize that they're not required to take responsibility for anything — only if they think it's important and they really want to commit themselves to it. This is important. Because even if you end up with tasks that don't have anyone that wants to do them, this is information that feeds back into the workshop.
Take a look at the tasks. Are there any solutions where all tasks have a person assigned to them? This would be a solution that could be pursued right away. For a solution where tasks are left unassigned one might interpret this to mean that the solution doesn't have enough support to be pursued. Alternatively, you could discuss whether the solution needs to be scaled down in a way that full coverage of its tasks may be reached.

Facilitate a project scoping workshop

Setup and preparation

Before the workshop, make sure you create a Miro template and set it to "Anyone with the link can edit".
Prepare and keep a Spotify playlist handy. During the workshop sessions, playing a playlist in the background creates a distraction-free atmosphere. You can add your own music to the playlist, but make sure the tracks are essentially instrumental, minimal at lyrics, and give out a calming vibe.
You can use Zoom's "Share Screen" feature to stream the music playing in the background by selecting "Music and Computer Sound only" under the "Advanced" tab at the top.
In Google Meet or other online conferencing tools, share a tab and make sure you tick the "Share tab audio" checkbox.

Introduction

The very beginning of the workshop is the most important part to set the correct tone. Here's an ideal to-do list to kick off the workshop with:
  1. 1.
    Welcome everyone and thank them for turning up.
  2. 2.
    Share the Miro link, introduce how it works, and let everyone find their personal workspace.
  3. 3.
    Normally, it's okay to skip personal introductions. Quickly introduce the team, emphasising their strengths if you know them.
  4. 4.
    Exploain briefly what's going to happen over the duration the workshop.
  5. 5.
    Empower others on the team to feel their input is valuable.
  6. 6.
    Mention that it might be intense at times, but that's ok.
  7. 7.
    If there is one, nominate a decider.
The decider is the one who pushes the envelope forward wherever the team is stuck and unable to come to a decision.

How Might We exercise

How Might We (HMW) is an exercise wherein everyone comes up with questions to tackle a challenge or to solve a particular problem. Ask the decider or the whole team to talk about the biggest challenges and the goal of the project, and let everyone jot down the How-Might-We's (HMWs). Let everyone contribute who has expert knowledge.
This discussion should not take longer than 30 minutes.
If you are leading the project, be as specific about your intentions as possible. Providing the initial prompt or questions to the group is very important to set an explorative context to the workshop. Be as specific as possible about what the HMWs should be about.
Make sure everyone is actually writing.
When the discussion is finished, give the team at most 7 minutes to write down HMWs in silence.
A collection of HMW question

Vote and prioritize

  1. 1.
    Vote on the most relevant HMWs. Each participant gets 4 votes whereas the decider (if there is one) gets 5. Everyone can vote with as many votes on a single idea as they want, and vote on their own ideas. This voting session should take at most 5 minutes.
  2. 2.
    Arrange voted notes into a "tree" structure in order to prioritize the ones with a higher number of votes. Read out the final results. This should take 1 minute.
An example of HMWs prioritsed

Solutions exercise

After prioritizing, move the HMWs over to the solutions canvas and ask the participants to come up with solutions. You can mention that quantity is more important than quality and that it's okay to add silly or unrealistic ideas.

Vote and prioritize

Voting on solutions is identical to the previous session. Vote on the most relevant solutions. Each participant gets 4 votes whereas the decider (if there is one) gets 5. Everyone can vote with as many votes on a single idea as they want, and vote on their own ideas. This voting session should take at most 5 minutes.

Task breakdown

Move the voted solutions to the next section and write individual post-it's underneath to specify which tasks need to be done in order to successfully complete the solution. You can also add durations to each task, which will make it easier to estimate the cost of the work later.

Effort / Impact exercise

Use the voted solutions to distribute them on the effort/impact scale. Start from the center and align with the team on the proper position - left/right and top/bottom. Lead the conversation but make sure everyone can contribute to it.
All sticky notes in the top left (pink box) will be the most relevant.

Agree on details and delegate

The last step helps convert the solutions and tasks into a project proposal, including the cost and assignee.
You can start by asking the team who would like to take ownership of a solution. This doesn't mean that they have to do it all alone. They do need to make sure though that the solution gets done, even if the work will be split among multiple participants.
This process might also lead to shifting tasks to different roles. You can also frame each solution as a role.
Try estimating the duration for each solution and derive the cost of the work. Use reference points from previous project deliverables that were similar (and how much they were paid) or count the hours it takes, comparing them to the market rate of a professional doing the work.
Finally, remember to define the tasks and responsibilities of the project owner, who needs to oversee the entire process from start to finish.

Retrospective Workshop

After each cycle of workshops/prototyping/user testing, we run a short 1-hour retrospective to reflect on our experience and evaluate how to improve. It follows are very simple process:
  • Write down all positives and negatives (7 minutes)
  • Read out all positives individually (1 minute each)
  • Read out all negatives individually (1 minute each)
  • Vote on negatives (3 minutes)
  • Brainstorm solutions for negatives (7 minutes)
  • Vote on solutions (3 minutes)
  • Discuss feasibility and delegate
You can find a Miro board with most Retrospectives here: https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_lfNSlU4=/​
A Retrospective Workshop is a great chance to experiment with facilitation techniques, new music or tools alternative to Miro.

Brainstorm positives and negatives

Duration: 10min
Ask everyone to write down everything that stood out as positive (green notes) and everything you think that can be improved (red notes).

Read out positives and negatives

Duration: 10min
Let each participant read out the positives and negatives to provide a bit of context.

Brainstorm solutions

Duration: 7min Ask everyone to read through the negatives and place solution notes (blue) underneath in silence.

Vote

Duration: 7min Without discussion, ask all participants to read through the notes and place 5 dots on their favourite solutions.
(you can also use the built-in Miro voting for this)

Delegate

Duration: 10min For the clearly actionable steps, delegate the work to the Creative Directors, Experts or set up as community bounties. In difficult cases suggest improvements, create a governance proposal or reach out to the Creative Directors to help solve the problem.​