What are the three biggest obstacles to running a successful remote design thinking workshop? | UpTop Health

What are the three biggest obstacles to running a successful remote design thinking workshop?

6m 54s

In their One Question for UpTop Health video series, UpTop Health experts discuss the three biggest obstacles to running a successful remote design thinking workshop. For more information: How to Run a Successful Design Thinking Workshop — Remotely

Moderator: John Sloat, (CEO)
Interviewees: Michael Woo (Director of UX), Deborah Roberts (UX Designer)

Episode Transcript

Moderator: Hi welcome to One Question with UpTop Health. Today we’re going to review the article “How to run a successful design thinking workshop remotely.” The question I had after reading this article is ‘What are the three biggest obstacles to running a successful remote design thinking workshop?’ And Deborah, could you lead us off please?

Deborah: Absolutely, thank you John. The first thing that came to mind is one of the first things you have to do in starting a sprint is assembling the team. We often recommend having about five to eight people from the client side participate in the sprint and that can sometimes be a challenge for clients to pick who those people are going to be. We often get push back to include more people.

One of the big things about a sprint is that it’s all about focus. And the more participants that you have, the conversation can become harder to steer and then you increase the risk of getting too much content and can’t stay on schedule. So we really recommend having five to eight people; someone who would work on the execution, people with knowledge on the subject, someone who’s an expert on the customer or user, and then an executive or decision maker who can help to make decisions for the team. Then we also have the opportunity to bring in subject matter experts during certain sections of the workshops. So that way you get all the different viewpoints that you want, but you’re still able to stay on task.

That brings me to the next hardest thing. Which would be the timing, especially when you’re working remote. What we’ve done is to set aside time when we do our UX Strategy Sprint. We have a week or two set up for intake which helps us get up to speed on the problem space. We’re reviewing the existing research, conducting user interviews if needed and then we create a draft of the journey map ahead of time so that way when we start the actual workshop, we have that done and can jump into the critical parts of the flow and hit the ground running so to speak. We found that really helps accelerate the process and make the most of our time during the workshop. Then we also have a facilitator from our end running the different activities and also a person dedicated to tech support which is really helpful. That way, there’s not the kind of interruptions throughout the workshop helping people with their setup.

Then one of the other things is just to keep an open mind and trusting the process, because certain exercises are going to push people outside of their comfort zone; specifically the ideation section when we’re asking folks to sketch and draw. For some people that’s not something that they do very often but we found that by involving the different these people in the process, we get great ideas because they’re the ones that are connected to the process more closely. It’s just a great way to involve everyone in the process. Having that collaboration, having everyone included, helps bring people along so that they feel like they’re part of the solution and brings alignment in the team around targeting the areas and solutions to move forward with. What about you Mike, do you have additional thoughts?

Michael: Yeah, Deborah, you basically chose all the ones that I was going to say If I have to add anything, it’s having the required people present and what I mean by that is that sometimes some of these folks, even when you plan to have them present, they actually drop off at the last minute for a variety reasons. It could be meetings. It could be they just can’t make it that day, but usually this happens right before you’re about to start the workshop or during. They say “oh, yeah. I got this this unplanned meeting with my boss I have to go attend” and so it makes it a little bit difficult not having the right hat in the virtual room per se. This could apply to in person as well, and it could be a little bit challenging but you get by. It is more difficult if it is the decider who is the one who has to drop out when you have to make decisions. But you do our best to get by.

Another thing is one of the exercises that we do is called the art museum as ‘homework’. We typically assign homework, and it’s not an obstacle per se but there’s a good portion of folks who typically don’t like to do homework. It makes it a little bit challenging sometimes when you get a too many who don’t do the homework, making collaboration a little bit harder. It’s always great to have a lot of diverse ideas and when folks don’t come to the table with those ideas, it can suck a little bit of the energy out of the room. But we always have backup plans and ours know is participating when we know that this might happen or if especially when the client doesn’t have the design resources on their end. We usually tend to supply that energy from our side.

Then you touched on technology definitely as a thing. Sometimes the most basic thing like signing up for an account just to use collaboration tools is a really hard thing for folks. But again, it’s life. We definitely try to come up with alternate plans to get through all of these things.

Moderator: Thanks guys.

Michael: Thank you.

Deborah: Thank you.