This edition of Inside 31Volts is about how you can play with and keep the right energy level within a workshop.
Different energy levels throughout the process
In a service design workshop you usually start to diverge in the beginning of the process. You try to get more information on your subject, create a lot of insights and perspectives. This creates a good dynamic with a lot of stimuli, information and energy where many things are happening. When this point is reached you want to get back to something smaller and aim for more specific results.
The groan zone
When new insights and ideas emerge, people often experience the feeling of not knowing where the process will take them. “Where is this going?” “Why am I here?” This is called the ‘groan zone’; a discomfort zone. The best thing to do is to prepare participants for this ‘lost’ feeling, so they will recognize it and won’t loose their drive.
Keeping the energy in the workshop
Using questions you can keep the participants ‘present in the room’. You involve them in the process and make sure their thoughts do not wander off to other things. Good questions to reach this are: ‘What is the best thing that come out of the workshop for you?’ ‘What is the value that you can bring in this workshop?’
As you are always working with different kind of people you need to find the right balance of exercises. For introvert people it is good to have some piece and quiet to work and think alone for a while. For extrovert people and for the group dynamics it is good to also have exercises that include dialogue and creating things together.
Using building blocks to be flexible in your process
Every exercise of the process can be seen as a building block for a bigger whole. It is wise to start with easy and interactive smaller exercises as a warming up. Bigger exercises such as creating a persona work best in the middle of the process, it is something you work towards. After such a big exercise, which requires a lot of energy, it is best to give meaning to the exercise using smaller exercises. In this way people can relax and digest a little.
The building blocks will allow you to be flexible as a facilitator. You can mix your blocks in order to fit to the energy level of the group, paying good attention to the dynamics. You can call for a break when you notice the group needs one or continue an exercise for a longer amount of time when the group is in a positive flow.
Theory makes people see ‘the use of it’
Adding a little bit of theory to the process can have a positive effect on the energy. It creates a moment of peace and reflection and it helps the participants understand why they do the exercises. They will not see the use of the exercises when they are not aware of the reasoning behind.