Tips on Running a Remote Discovery Workshop
A Discovery Workshop allows a large number of stakeholders to come together to collaboratively discuss their needs. It is often where a project sponsor will uncover the complexities of a challenge or even discover new challenges in regions or markets.
The rise of remote working has seen organisations are shifting to remote Discovery workshops, bringing new levels of complexity and challenge when compared to in-person sessions. With discovery a key component in ensuring project success we will look at some of the top tips for running a successful remote discovery workshop.
A common aim for a discovery workshop is to have a two-way exchange of knowledge and information. From the vendor’s side, this might be a recap of the product for new stakeholders, detailing an indicative project plan or explaining the scope of required stakeholders. From the client-side, they will be discussing their current challenges and feeding into the project rollout design.
However, getting this balance right can be a significant challenge. If there is too much content from the client, new stakeholders who have not been involved in the entire process may not have a good enough understanding of the potential project or product. If there is too much information from the vendor, the client stakeholder will likely become disengaged and disinterested.
Previously, when we could run discovery workshops on a client’s site, it was easy to see when people were starting to switch off. That would give us the indication required to change some of the content to increase participation. In the virtual world, however, this can be very challenging.
The first tip to help overcome this challenge is to ask participants to keep their webcams on for the entirety of the session. You can then better judge the reactions of your audience. If your audience is starting to look bored or if they are looking away from the screen, this is your leading indicator that engagement needs to increase in the session.
Second, even when there is good audience participation, it can become just a handful of stakeholders who are sharing their thoughts. For this reason, calling out individual names can help involve everyone. This may feel unnatural at first. After all, it’s unlikely we would do this in a face-to-face meeting, but it helps the quieter attendees to get their voices heard. For large workshops where it may be impractical to give everyone a voice, regular polls can be more efficient. For very large discovery workshops (20+ attendees), breakout rooms can be essential to drive up audience participation. Taking the results from an earlier poll, these can be discussed in depth in smaller breakout groups, whereby points are documented and fed back to the wider group.
No one can run a successful Discovery Workshop on their own. A team is needed to work seamlessly together to create a smooth and engaging experience for the audience. However, a facilitator is crucial to introduce the day and round-up at the end. They will be in charge of introductions and will introduce each topic and are likely to be the key relationship manager for the client such as the Account Executive or Sales Manager.
There should be a vast amount of knowledge and information that is gathered from a large-scale discovery workshop that will need to be documented. Having someone from your company act as an administrator is important because listening back to the recording of a full-day call is entirely impractical. The best candidate for this role is someone who understands the product and has some background on the client such as a junior Solutions Consultant or Value Engineer. That way, any acronyms can be translated and any product implications can be documented rather than just a word-for-word transcript. This person could also be in charge of timekeeping and, where necessary, messaging the internal messaging channel to keep everything running on time.
Having a single person hosting the workshop for a full day can quickly become boring but having frequent changes in speaker can keep the session lively. The additional benefit of this can be that each different speaker can be introduced as a specialist in each topic, thus bolstering their credibility.
For example, if your company sells multiple products, you may split the discovery workshop into multiple sessions. Having a different speaker for each product can show their individual authority in their area of expertise.
As you can see, there are a number of points to consider when running a large-scale Discovery Workshop. However, with the right preparation and planning, they can be an overwhelming success.
There is nothing better than getting all of your stakeholders in the same room to discuss their challenges and how you, your organisation and your product will add value to their company.
If you are interested in finding out more about our product discovery process, get in touch for a chat with the team.