10 reasons to run a workshop

overwhelmed reasons to run a workshopIt occurred to me that a lot of the time people call me to book me to run a workshop for them they have already worked out their reasons for doing so. This post is for everyone else. Most clients who come to me for a workshop are clear about why they need one.  What they need help with (apart from running the workshop itself) is articulating the design of the workshop to let them address the issues which created the need in the first place. Test yourself with these 10 reasons. If you feel a sharp stabbing pain it may be that a workshop is long overdue!

The 10 reasons to run a workshop

Here’s my list of symptoms in no particular order of priority – feel free to mail me to tell me the ones I have left out.


1. We’ve lost touch with priorities. Every business worth its salt has a business plan and a marketing plan. But there’s a gap between the rhetoric and the reality. Why does our business exist and what are we trying to do?
2. We’re not clear what our brand stands for. Again lots of businesses have brand documents sitting on their server somewhere. Communicating consistently with customers or getting your staff to walk the walk – well that needs working through
3. We need to work out how to do something we have never done before. And you’re unlikely to work it out together unless you get out of the office, switch your mobiles off and get on with it. Seriously this is a really good reason to organise a workshop.
4. We just don’t talk any more. Businesses are used to doing more and more with less people. Larger companies have to make time for briefing and review boards to keep everyone in the loop. But small and medium sized companies on a steep growth curve have a basic problem. Everyone is so busy there’s no time to find out what is going on.
5. We can’t stand each other. This is a bit of a specialised one but in interdepartmental or supplier relationships it is easy for people to fall out with one another. Sometimes you can go your different ways. Sometimes you can’t. A workshop is a useful way to address bad relationships and to start to fix them.
6. We have just got a whole lot of new information or research in. And we need to work out what to do with it. There is always information to process but sometimes you get so much in that you need a way to assimilate. Get everyone together. Organise a debrief then workshop your way through to implementation.
7. We need to placan't see the way ahead reasons for running a workshopn for next year/ we need to design a new range of products/ we need to open up an office in 5 new countries. Get out of the office!
8. We need to make a very important and potentially crucial business decision. One of the best reasons I know. Doing a few late nights at the office then put it in front of a half awake board at your peril. Get all the key decision makers together and take them off by themselves. Give it the attention it deserves.
9. We need to understand our customers better. The kneejerk response to this is to do some customer research. Research that rarely gets assimilated. So if you really want to understand your customers – just focus on that. Sometimes you can invite your customers to join you at the workshop!
10. We just need some thinking space. Donald Rumsfeld made the things you don’t know you don’t know famous. But they exist and they are important. How often does a start -up come out of nowhere and ambush the market leader – when the market leader had not only more information but more resources than the start-up? Answer the start-up knows something the market leader didn’t know. And it didn’t know it didn’t know otherwise it would have done something about it. So this is one of the hardest but among the most worthwhile reasons to run a workshop. To ask the unsettling question What have we missed?

I’ve run workshops to address all of these issues. Each one requires a very different design. What all have in common is that they bring together the key people but in an unfamiliar place and often an unfamiliar way of interacting and discussing. They can be very practical sessions. But they can also be highly unpredictable. It all depends on what you need. The first step is recognising the symptoms which a workshop would address. Which of the reasons for running a workshop do you recognise?

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