Four ways workshops can help your team innovate

12 June 2024

Ryan Shields

Ryan Shields

12 June 2024

If you and your team need a fresh perspective on your web project, workshops are a great way to get you to where you need to be. Popularised in the early 1980s with IDEO’s design thinking process, workshops involve a series of collaborative, interactive exercises. A facilitator guides the session, helping everyone work together to build understanding, define goals, explore ideas, and refine solutions.

The benefits of workshops

Where a meeting might be ideal for information sharing and discussion it’s not ideal for getting things done or for solving problems. That’s where workshops shine.

Generally speaking, workshops have three key benefits over regular meetings. First, they build trust by fostering a collaborative working relationship, creating a shared understanding and a strong foundation for the project. Second, workshops lead to better outcomes by gathering diverse opinions, ideas, and critiques, ensuring stronger solutions are developed. Third, workshops help your team accelerate their pace. They enable you to fail fast, make rapid decisions, and quickly build consensus, maintaining project momentum.

But the real beauty of workshops is their ability to adapt to different use cases. By combining different exercises targeted to specific outcomes, they can help with any number of challenges you’re trying to solve.

Workshops for discovery 

For example, if you’re grappling with a complex problem and don’t know where to start, a discovery workshop is ideal. They are designed to unpack project challenges and opportunities, helping you understand and empathise with your target audience. What are their frustrations, needs, desires and worldviews? What motivates their behaviour? By understanding the people who use your website, you can ensure you’re designing something they actually want and need. 

Discovery workshops are also an opportunity to deeply understand your brand. Why does it exist? What makes it unique? What’s holding it back? They can also provide insights into the wider sector, helping you learn how others have solved similar problems and identify what sets you apart in the market.

Workshops for defining

Now, let’s shift gears. Suppose your problem is knowing too much and feeling overwhelmed by the numerous potential paths. In this case, a defining workshop is what you need. These workshops transform chaos into clarity. They replace vague briefs with specific ones by pinpointing project challenges and goals, and then mapping and prioritising them. This process provides a shared understanding of your team’s objectives and facilitates confident decision-making. Defining workshops turn a complex, fuzzy collection of thoughts into a well-defined strategy.

Workshops for ideation

 Another common challenge is translating a strategic vision into a created reality. How do you bridge the gap? How do you gather a breadth of ideas and make them outstanding? If you’re asking yourself these questions, it’s time for an ideation workshop. They are designed to explore possibilities, allowing you to quickly create and develop ideas, combine thoughts, and experiment with new directions. Through rapid conceptualisation exercises and creative prompts, ideation workshops inspire lateral thinking, helping participants push past expected outcomes to create novel solutions. By introducing unexpected inputs, they enable true innovation.

Workshops for refining 

Going from good to great relies on analysis, feedback, and a willingness to craft the details. At various points, it’s essential to step back and reflect. Are we achieving what we set out to achieve? If not, why not? How do we get back on track? These are the questions you will unpack in a refinement workshop. Designed for critical thinking, refinement workshops counterbalance the creative burst of ideation workshops. Use them as an opportunity to review and improve every aspect of work. Refinement workshops help people to seek and provide honest feedback. They do this through deliberate exercises that draw out constructive insights and takeaway actions. Refinement workshops help teams get better faster, by systematically analysing ideas and information to identify risks and opportunities, ensuring continuous improvement.

To sum it all up 

If you’re feeling boxed in by meetings, it’s time to give workshops a go. Use them to power up your time together. Get a better understanding, set clearer goals, develop innovative ideas, and refine your execution on it all. And best of all, do it all faster with workshops. 

If you’d like help running a workshop get in touch. We’d love to facilitate your next design-thinking session.

Ryan Shields


Ryan Shields

Ryan enjoys visual storytelling and, through the exercise of piecing together things like colour, form, image, and typography, websites are created that are not just seen, but experienced too. For Ryan, it’s about taking people on a journey of discovery through designs that delight, engage and inform.

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