Case study

How to implement and run an effective workshop program involving up to 80 people


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Ian Kingstone & Toby Mankertz
Business Transformation Specialist & Transformation Senior at Columbus Global

Discover how Ian Kingstone, Business Transformation Specialist and Toby Mankertz Transformation Senior at Columbus Global, were able to conduct efficient workshops about shift and values with their client.

Business Model Canvas, Radar, Difficulty and Importance Matrix, Abstraction Laddering… a lot of Design Thinking methods inspired Ian and Tobias who have designed the perfect workshop program to meet their clients needs. As a result: 80+ people from all hierarchical positions have participated in 14 different workshops to build together a culture that align with their core values.

Organize a series of remote workshops with a large audience? With Klaxoon, it’s possible!

Running a large workshop can seem daunting, but Ian Kingstone and Toby Mankertz at Columbus Global have found a way to prepare and facilitate large scale workshops using Klaxoon tools from the outset. But before we get into the nuts and bolts of how they do this, let’s take a look at their ‘why’.

The challenge: take workshop efficiency to the next level

It may come as a surprise to find out that only 30% of transformations succeed in achieving outcomes and delivering the value they were looking for. That means that over 70% fail. 

According to Mankertz and Kingstone - who are both experts in the field of transformation, the 30% that are successful stand out because they are consistently clarifying outcomes and the value they expect to generate, paired with a holistic approach that has the people side of transformation at the center. 

What does this have to do with workshops, you might ask? Well, because workshop facilitation is usually a core component of any transformation process, enabling a shift in values with their clients. So, it makes sense when we learn that the team at Columbus Global have spent considerable time working out how to conduct more efficient workshops.

The solution: design thinking and a value-first approach

Columbus Global have identified what they describe as The Value First approach, which provides clients with clarity about where they are going with their digital transformation, then helps them assess how well they’re doing once they get there. The equation is simple:  Digital Technology + Business Transformation Capabilities = New Value.

The approach is broken down into four pillars:

  1. Constantly hunt new value
  2. Align people and mindsets
  3. Enable the appropriate transformation capability
  4. Justify and delivery at the right pace

For Kingstone and Mankertz the shift to using Klaxoon for their workshop facilitation has been relatively swift but perhaps not surprising - since the way they drive and hunt value is based on a Design Thinking approach which lends itself really well to workshops and whiteboarding. They’ve found Klaxoon to be invaluable since remote working became the norm during the pandemic, but now acknowledge that the tool plays such a vital part in their processes that they will continue to use it as they embrace hybrid working. Klaxoon’s value is not just its ease of use during a workshop, but the additional tools and capabilities that allow interaction and use afterwards as well.

Columbus Global typically works with a range of clients, many of whom want to understand the value of changing something – whether that’s their software, or more fundamental ways of working. Using Klaxoon allows a large number of people to gather around the same board, albeit virtually, to brainstorm how they might envision the future for their organization.

A person working on desktop, with their team connected remotely on a Board where they are sharing many ideas. | Klaxoon
The whole team is connected directly on the Board, and can see in real time the ideas being shared.

How to facilitate a workshop in person is one thing, but what about virtually? Kingstone suggests starting with an icebreaker – a short 5-minute exercise that ensures participants understand how to use Klaxoon (for example how to use the sticky note function) and then move quickly on to envisioning. Kingstone and Mankertz typically use a double diamond approach to think about what the future might look like and then work outwards. The Radar Template is particularly helpful for this. 

Another great feature of Klaxoon that has helped to make it indispensable for the teams at Columbus is its library of pre-existing Templates. We hear from clients regularly who say that ‘there’s a lot that fits our need’ straight out of the box. But if you do need to adapt or use one in a different way, it’s an intuitive process to do so. For new and seasoned Klaxoon users alike, the Templates are a great way to hit the ground running, but can also be easily adjusted to make them fit for purpose.

The results: brainstorming workshops bring benefits

Business Model Canvas, Radar, Difficulty and Importance Matrix, Abstraction Laddering… these are all Design Thinking methods that can inspire workshop programs and help to meet client needs. And the good news is that Klaxoon supports them all! Our clients at Columbus Global regularly facilitate 80+ people in an ongoing series of workshops (it’s not unusual to have 14 different workshops on any given project) all powered by Klaxoon to bring together a culture that will align with their core values.

Getting to the point of the core issues people need to address is vital, and debate is essential. Kingstone and Mankertz often use the tool like a traditional whiteboard for putting up post-its, which creates debate and kickstarts discussions. They point out that it’s often worth letting the conversations run, because that’s when they start to see real alignment: in a workshop with lots of people, they need a way to reach a conclusion and voting and debate allows for this. It’s also worth remembering that as well as people debating, there are people listening – Klaxoon really does allow people to think things through easily making it central to the mindset and people piece of the puzzle.

A person answering a Vote Question about brainstorming on their mobile. | Klaxoon
Questions are an efficient way to collect feedback from the team, by making them vote instantly for one or several options.

The Networks feature is a great way to invite participants to join long-running workshops since they can see what happened in the past and get involved with other aspects of preparation for forthcoming workshops. But it’s worth noting that work often happens around a workshop, not just during it – something which is less likely to happen in face-to-face meetings.

Kingstone and Mankertz have also seen buy-in from clients who are taking snapshots of the Boards they’ve used during a workshop and sharing them with their internal teams. The benefits of the Klaxoon’s Workshop Platform are huge, over and above the fact that it’s still quite rare to have people together in one location.

The less tangible human dynamics are another area where Klaxoon helps garner results. At Columbus Global and across the board, our clients are surprised and delighted by the level of engagement they see during their workshops: people who wouldn’t normally express themselves get involved and contribute to the process.

For Kingstone and Mankertz it’s simple: they prefer to use Klaxoon now rather than a traditional in-person workshop and are continuing to use Klaxoon even as they shift from fully remote to a more hybrid way of working.

To know more about Ian Kingstone and Toby Mankertz's workshop program, watch the live replay available on our youtube channel:

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