Workshops
  • 15 Feb 2022
  • 17 Minutes to read
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Workshops

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Workshops

The Workshops function is designed to facilitate the collective thought processes in groups and organizations for analyzing, enhancing and clarifying information. Workshops can be used e.g. for:

  • SWOT analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Retrospective analysis
  • OKR planning
  • Honing your strategic goals
  • Prioritizing ideas and alternative actions

The workshop functionalities are not limited to certain content types, so they can be used for analyzing, enriching and highlighting almost any type of information. Workshops can be conducted both as live and remote sessions, also hybrid models that utilize both of these working methods are possible.

Workshops are always conducted by facilitators whose responsibility is to plan and lead the workshop for all the participants. The facilitator is responsible for sufficient guidance for the participants and they also dictate the timing and pace of actions in the workshop.

All the workshop results are anonymous and none of the individual participant's answers will be shown to the other participants or even the facilitator. This enables more honest and thorough answers and reduces the amount of cognitive bias.

Workshop life cycle

Workshops are always divided into one or several work phases. Work phases are meant for certain tasks, for example recognizing threats, evaluating items or familiarizing oneself with preparatory material. The results from work phases can be utilized in other work phases or exported to completely different workshops which enables linking workships to one another. The work phases are listed always on the left side of the screen:

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Work phases have several different statuses which affect their visibility and available functionalities. First status is whether a work phase is published or unpublished. Unpublished work phases are not visible to participants, only to the facilitator, while published work phases are visible to the participants. After a work phase is published it can have one of the following statuses:

  • Not started during which work phase can be inspected, but the participants cannot do any changes to it or add items
  • In progress during which the work phase is progressing normally and the participants are completing the task they are given
  • Paused during which the work phase is paused momentarily after starting and the participants cannot do any changes or add items, but the facilitator can edit the settings or content of the work phase
  • Completed which indicates that the work phase is ready. Once completed, the participants cannot add or edit anything to the work phase and they are taken to the collective results.

Workshops can have one or more work phases in progress simultaneously. This is useful if it is conducted as a remote workshop and the participants are intended to complete it at their own pace with a shared deadline.

Once participants are ready with a work phase, they can independently mark it as completed from the upper right corner. The amount of participants who have completed each work phase is visible to the facilitator which helps them guiding the work process. If the facilitator marks a work phase as "completed", it ends for all participants.

It is possible to assign a start and end date for a work phase for remote working purposes. This enables the facilitator a better control over the workshop deadlines and eliminates the need to manually mark a phase as complete. If the workshop is conducted as a live session, the facilitator can also add a timer to a work phase. The timer starts when the work phase is activated and it shows how much time is left to all participants.
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Instructing the participants

Every work phase can have its own instructions which are shown to the participants, when they arrive to a work phase (remote workshop) or when its activated (live workshop). These instructions can be marked as "read" which is visible to the facilitator. Participants can also find these instructions while the work phase is in progress by clicking the large question mark icon next to the heading.

In a live workshop, the participants also receive notifications when the work phase is:

  • Activated
  • Paused
  • Completed

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There are 10 different work phases available and these will be covered more in detail in the following sections:

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External content

The purpose of external content is to include additional materials and instructions that guide the participants and support them in reaching the goals set for the workshop. External content can be e.g. a website, pdf-file, a presentation (Powerpoint or Google Slide) or any type of text. The only requirement is that it's accessible through the provided URL.

External content can be either embedded to the workshop or, in the case of non-embeddable content, a link to another site where the content is located will be offered.

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Worth noticing on using external content

Embedding content from other sources is not always allowed due to e.g. security protocols or log-in requirements. In these cases, the browser will show an error message while trying to show the external content:
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If the external content requires some form of authentication, the facilitator should make sure that all of the participants have access to it.

Some services offer separate functionalities that allow their content to be embedded in workshops. These functionalities are often called "Share", "Embed" or "Publish". For example, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Data Studio, Sharepoint or Powerpoint have these types of functionalities. However, sometimes these functionalities provide the link in wrong form. Luckily, when embedding this type of content, the system can recognize the correct form of the link in the most cases.

For example, if you publish a Google Slides presentation as embeddable content, the link will contain additional characters which will cause the embedding to fail in the workshop. As only the URL is needed in this case, the provided link will need to be partially copied starting from "https:" and ending with "delayms=5000".

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Workshop results

It is possible to import results from other workshops, for example, as preparatory material for participants. This also allows the formation of workshop series or combining the results from several workshops for further analysis.

Only work phases with actual results can be imported from another workshops. This means that external content cannot be imported. Imported results cannot be edited anymore which is why they work best as additional support material.

Identification

Identifying is the most essential part of the workshop as the participants produce new content to the workshop during it. Some of the other work phases are also completely based on items discovered in identification phase which makes it one of the most important phases of any workshop.

Identification can metaphorically be seen as a flip chart, where participants add post-it notes. The flip chart can be divided into several categories which appear as different horizontal groups.

Participants add new items to the chart by either clicking the pluses in each category or dragging the yellow post-it notes, that are next to the heading, to wanted categories. Participants can move or edit their own items after first placing them as long as the work phase is in progress.

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The facilitator can assign how many items each participant has to add before they can see items added by the others. This can encourage participants to bring their own, unique insights and ensure sufficient diversity in the results.

Facilitator can also combine items, when the results are ready. More than often, participants might add exactly same or similar items and in these cases combining them allows the chart to remain clearer without losing any content. The facilitator can also separate combined items, for example, if the combination happens accidentally or if the participants reach the conlusion that they were indeed two separate items.

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Identified items can be e.g.:

  • Threats or possibilities
  • Weaknesses or strengths
  • Competitors or other stakeholders
  • Phenomena, trends or themese
  • Initiatives
  • Goals or key results
  • Suggestions for actions
  • Ideas

The following four work phase types are used for evaluating items added during indentification phases. The term "identified items" used in these sections refers to the results of an identification phase.

Light prioritization

The purpose of light prioritization is to quickly discover the most crucial items from the set of identified items. Each participant can allocate stars to their preferred items, but each item can only receive one star. The amount of stars is dependant on the amount of items following formula "number of items/2".

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The end result is a clear list of items which have received the most stars. The results from light prioritization can then be used in e.g. prioritization or two dimensional rating by including only items that have received a certain amount of stars or any stars.

The results are shown as a table which shows how many stars each item received. This table includes only items that have received one or more stars:

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Prioritization

The purpose of prioritization is to find items with the most significance. Each participant can allocate stars to their preferred items and they can allocate as many stars as they want to. As with light prioritization, the number of stars is dependant on the amount of items following formula "number of items/2".

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The results are shown as a table which shows how many stars each item received. This table includes only items that have received one or more stars:

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Two dimensional rating

In two dimensional rating, items are rated against a two dimensional area. The facilitator can define the area to consist simply of an y- and a x-axis or form it as a grid of preferred size. Each part of the grid can have a separate description which enables more detailed instructions for the participants. But, despite the grid parts having customizable descriptions, the results of the grid are still evaluated against the items' positions in the y- and x-axis and the grid serves more as guideline.

The rating of items occurs by dragging identified items to preferred spots in the area. If an item is left unrated, it will also not affect the results.

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Two dimensional rating: analyzing results and the spread

In the results, each item is placed on the rating area based on the average values from all the ratings. By default, the color of each item is based on their category in the identification phase. This allows the facilitator and participators to quickly see how items in each category were rated; e.g. was one category considerably highly rated or did one category perhaps have a high spread between its items? Instead of using the categories of the identification phase, users can change the colors to indicate the spread of the ratings from top right corner of the results. While showing spread, green and greenish tones indicate low spread, yellow medium spread and red and redish tones indicate high spread. The data on the spread of the ratings can be especially useful for the facilitator when they are summarizing the results. The facilitator can analyse e.g. the spread of a single item's ratings, the spread of the items with highest spreads or the average spread of all of the ratings. The spread signals the consensus of the participants regarding the covered topic and can give certain depth to the follow-up conversations and later work phases.

It is also possible to filter the ratings based on one or several roles from the top right corner (see more about roles in workshops in section "Workshop settings, participants, roles and public links"). Clicking on a single item shows the spread of answers for that particular item which can provide additional information in certain cases.
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Besides using the data on rating spreads, the facilitators can adapt different approaches for running the workshop and analysing the results. They can utilize e.g. Wideband Delphi method, where there are several rating rounds for the same items. After the first rating round, the results are summarized and a joint discussion will be held with the participants about the different views on the topic and their possible reasons. This discussion can often increase the participants' understanding of their own point of views and underlying motives. After the discussion, the facilitator can remove the ratings from the actions-menu and the participants will do the rating again.

Cross pollination

In cross pollination, the participants identify common factors between the items from two separate identification phases. Cross pollination can be used for e.g. identifying common factors between strategic breakthroughs and this information could be utilized to find a concrete action that could help the organization to achieve both of these breakthroughs. When adding a cross pollination, the facilitator first has to choose which of the chosen identification phases is on the right and which one is on the left. All of the identified items will be shown from both of the chosen phases.

Note: the decision of placing an identification phase left or right is purely cosmetical.

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Once the identification phases are chosen and the work phase is published and activated, the actual cross pollination begins. The cross pollination works by choosing one item from each side after which they can be combined by clicking on the red "combine" button. Combining two items results in a new item that can be given a title and a more detailed explanation.

Combinable items can be filtered on both sides based on the categories of the respective identification phases. By hovering over the combined items, participants can see which two items were combined. By hovering over the items that can be combined, the system highlights all the combinations which include this item.

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The next three work phase types do not require a completed identification phase to work. Instead, they use different types of measurements and methods.

Comparison analysis

In the comparison analysis, the participants rate pre-defined items in different categories. It can be used e.g. for competitor analysis or any other type of flexible analysis, where the rated data is divided between several categories and all of these categories need to be taken into account to conclude the results.

The comparison analysis has three different comparison settings (these are defined at the bottom of the comparison analysis' settings):

  1. Rating scale which means the scale on which the items are going to be rated on. The scale contains a set of values which each have a numerical value for calculating the answer averages. The number of values is not limited, but there needs to minimum one value set.
  2. Comparison dimensions which means the different categories that the items are going to be rated on. These dimensions will be added in text form and each dimension forms its own section to the x-axis.
  3. Rated items which means the items that are going to be rated in the different dimensions. Each added item will have its own color, so that they are easier to tell apart.

When the comparison analysis is in progress, the participants will rate the items in each category by dragging the colored "balloon" to a preferred spot on the rating scale. For example, below you can see a picture of an competitor analysis, where the participants are rating the perceived success of competitors in each category of competitive advantage factors. After the comparison analysis is finished, an average will be calculated from all the answers and shown as the phase results.

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Breakthrough impact rating

In breakthrough impact rating, the facilitator can select existing strategic breakthroughs which are then imported as items to an identification phase. A two dimensional rating will also be automatically added and connected to the results of this identification phase. This work phase can be utilized e.g. for prioritizing current breakthroughs by skipping the identification phase completely and focusing only on the two dimensional rating or planning new breakthroughs by adding completely new items in the identification phase.

The breakthroughs can be imported based on different grouping logics. If the facilitator wants to import the breakthroughs "by strategy and strategic goal", then each strategy will be imported as a separate identification phase with strategic goals becoming the categories. If the facilitator chooses to group either "by strategy level" or "by strategic goal", they can choose whether their strategies/strategic goals will be imported as separate work phases or categories under one work phase.

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Note

Primarily, only published breakthroughs are imported, but the facilitator can also import draft breakthroughs by activating the last setting "Include draft breakthroughs".

Questionnaires

Questionnaires allow the facilitator to incorporate data collection via questions as a part of the workshop. By utilizing public links, the workshop questionnaires can also be used for large-scale data collection as well. The questions can be multiple choice or text field questions and the facilitator can set answering as mandatory to some or all of the questions.

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The results show the number of participants and answers, multiple choice answer shares as a visual pie chart and open text answers as a list.

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Saving the answers to an indicator

Questionnaires can also be formed so that the answers will be automatically saved to an indicator which enables the use of collected data in other service modules as well. The collected answers can also be allocated to a tracking level item which enables the collection of e.g. team-, project- or client-specific data.

Saving the data to an indicator and asking for tracking level items can be activated from the bottom of the questionnaire's settings.

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When saving responses to an indicator is activated, the indicator can be defined separately for each question. This is done in each question's settings.

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Note

Saving the answers to an indicator is allowed only for multiple choice questions. In addition, the allocation of data to a tracking level item is done for all of the questionnaire's questions and only one item can be picked in each questionnaire.

Working as a facilitator

Communication with the participants and monitoring the progress of the work phases are facilitator's key responsibilities. Communication consists of e.g. sending invitations to participants, embedding (possible) external content as support material, adding clear instructions for each phase and correctly controlling the phase statuses (in progress/paused/completed). For monitoring purposes, the facilitator has a unique function that is only visible to them: participant tracking. Participant tracking shows how participants are progressing in the workshop, which phases they have completed and how many participants are ready in each phase. Monitoring has a central role especially in remote workshops and work phases as it shows a good overview of the general progress.

Participant tracking can be opened by clicking either the chart icon from the top right corner or by clicking the participants ready icon from the work phase list on the left. The tracking shows each participant's progress in the workshop starting from receiving the invitation and arriving to the workshop to completing each work phase. Hovering over completed phases shows the time of completion. If the tracking is opened from a work phase, it becomes highlighted with a blue color.

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Facilitators are also responsible for managing the workhop's general settings, participant list, different participant roles and public links.

The participants are added to the workshop when it's added for the first time from Strategy module's "Workshops and analyses" section. After adding the workshop, the participants can be administered from the workshop's settings which are accessed from the upper right corner of the welcome page. The facilitator can add or remove participants and send email invitations/reminders from the settings. Participant tracking is also visible in the settings.

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Facilitators can assign different roles for the participants in the settings. These roles define what phases they can access in the workshop. Roles are added below the participant list and their access rights are set separately for each work phase. In addition to roles, the progression method, timer/deadline and automatic completion of work phases can be set in the work phase settings.

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Public links to a workshop can be found at the very bottom of the settings. With public links, anyone can participate in a workshop. Even those that don't have a user account at 4straction. Public links can therefore be utilized in bigger workshop entities and collecting data from many stakeholders efficiently. When creating a public link, the facilitator can define which role the link users belong to and whether their names will be asked upon entering the workshop. By combining different roles with several public links, the facilitator can create very fragmented workshops that collect data from dozens of individuals and turn it into insightful conclusions and concrete actions.

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Note

Using public links requires them to be activated from company's general settings ("Company information")

Workshops as a part of 4straction

Workshops integrate seamlessly to 4straction. Workshops can import data from other modules for it to be further enhanced or analyzed, for example in the case of importing breakthroughs for impact rating. Answers to questionnaires can also be saved directly to indicators which allows a flexible method of collecting values for different KPIs. Workshop results can also be exported to 4straction's action plan by creating actions from them. This can be done by selecting "create actions from items" from actions-menu. In this window, the facilitator can choose which items they want to export as actions. Each action has to have a breakthrough and a responsible person assigned:

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