The Outside Develops Virtual Workshop To Help Organizations Move Forward

the-outside-team

The Outside’s forward movement

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/74140227738?pwd=cmRTUEM5MXZuSk43b3FaeDIzWlFDUT09

The Outside is a cohort of talented strategists, coaches, facilitators, evaluators and project leads who help set the stage for organizations to grow, change and find a way that benefits them most. 

The team is supported by an energetic back-end team, covering legal, branding, design, communications and administration.

The Outside is committed to supporting systems change with equity at the centre. “This means that issues of race, class, gender, and other issues of power are foundational to any systems change efforts The Outside takes on.  They do this with a range of international partners and clients. 

The Outside team uses three key interdependent elements to make their work successful and unique in the field of systems change and equity:

  1. Systems Change Strategy;
  2. Participatory Leadership; and 
  3. Developmental Evaluation + Prototyping. 

Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart are co-founders of The Outside and together, with their team, they’ve achieved many milestones, including:

“Our approach and business model has been developed over 20 years of working on the front line of significant change efforts. The Outside is not a service provider for the individual elements but a delivery partner in a combined approach for systems change.”

Tuesday Ryan-Hart
Tuesday Ryan-Hart
tim-merry
Tim Merry

The search for a virtual workshop solution

As a result of COVID-19, and the inability to deliver any in-person training, The Outside had to re-develop and deliver five virtual workshops on capacity building for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services Workforce Institute (NYC ACS WI), in June 2020.

The Outside virtual workshop with NYC Administration services

The Outside had been working to transform the Workforce Institute and make the child welfare system more equitable and responsive. To achieve this goal, they needed to deliver workshops was that allowed staff to:

  • get connected and see a bigger picture together, 
  • identify how we will work to support each other in a post-COVID world and,
  • to articulate some of the leadership to articulate some of the leadership opportunities that could be realized at the Workforce Institute at this challenging time. 

In combination with Zoom, The Outside was looking for a technology partner to help them deliver an engaging virtual workshop experience.

The group knew that they can do the strategic work online – with groups of almost any size – the challenge was to humanize the virtual workshops, bringing in the relationship / magic / synchronicity that happens when people meet face-to-face.

“We were looking to humanize and energize our online delivery. It was important to us to be able to create the conditions for participants to collaborate in iterative processes with each other.” 

GroupMap chosen as a virtual workshop tool 

The Outside knew that they had to be able to create powerful and practical virtual workshop at the centre of their delivery of systems change, rather than as an add on. 

The team immediately started researching platforms that would work with sophisticated and participatory process design and ended up landing on a shortlist of Stormz, Powernoodle or GroupMap

“GroupMap – Jeremy specifically – seemed to fit us really well. We deliberately look for a good fit to our mindset and approach as we talk to partners and team members. They must be curious, open, ready to learn and adapt and bring a strong skill set that meets our needs.”

“In addition to his obvious tech skills, understanding of process and general willingness to be in it with us figuring it out, it was also great that Jeremy was a point of contact. We want our team and delivery partners to reflect the type of diverse world we are working towards.”

“It also had to be simple to use. No big explanations, click here and it works. GroupMap gave us all of that! Great.”

Virtual workshop collaboration at its best!

The Outside used GroupMap to deliver a range of different processes and formats that accommodate the groups they worked with in a virtual workshop environment. 

This included breakouts, participants identifying, clustering themes and self organizing into work groups, presentation, open conversations, participants placing themselves on a model. 

In a face-to-face workshop, they would have taped out the model on the floor and asked participants to stand on it. The Outside were able to replicate this on GroupMap as an online workshop activity. 

“We used this methodology as a way to feed back from smaller breakouts and conversations and identify themes and outliers for the whole group to consider. We gave groups graphic templates to fill out to advance their work, sliders to identify where they stand on issues and proposed action plans.”

Tim Merry, co-founder of The Outside,  identified specific key features of GroupMap that made the platform highly suitable to turn face-to-face activities into online workshops that kept the human element of engagement:

  1. Collaborate anytime, anywhere: GroupMap allows The Outside’s clients to collaborate anytime, anywhere.

    When working with international clients, navigating multiple time zones, nationalities, backgrounds, beliefs, we rely on a platform that works with us. We are often diving into issues of equity – race, class, gender, power distribution.”

    “The platform we work with has to work fluidly for these types of topics to sustain momentum in an online space. If we do not address these topics in large scale systems change we will make lots of change but very little meaningful difference.” 
  2. Customised templates: Although GroupMap comes with 60 best practice templates, The Outside found the ability to build templates based on their models and experiences invaluable. This way they were able to recreate their online workshops with their own style and methodologies.

    GroupMap templates for virtual workshop

  3. Easy combination with other technology: Tim explained that one of his most favourite features is the ability to use GroupMap with other online meeting and workshop platforms such as Zoom.

    “While Zoom provides the personal break out rooms, GroupMap serves as the house in which to store our real-time thinking, ideas, and next steps.” 
  1. A GroupMap expert at hand: Having a GroupMap point of contact help adapt and design their online workshops on the fly have really benefited The Outside’s online workshops. “We were able to respond real time to changes in the direction driven by the group and our design expertise. I would recommend using a GroupMap facilitator to start with.” 

Achieving more than just online collaboration & client satisfaction 

The Outside were able to continue critical work during the COVID-19 full shut down with their partners and clients by using GroupMap to translate their face-to-face activities into online workshops. 

“Unbelievable really. We pivoted, we adapted and we came back with a solution that is GroupMap and got to work again.” 

The participants involved in The Outside’s online workshops were able to be highly engaged due to the ease of use of the GroupMap platform and various features – such as real time collaboration, ability to visually see outliers and themes and interact with each other’s ideas via comments, thumbs up or down and votes. 

Virtual workshop feature of GroupMap
Thumbs up or down voting feature in GroupMap

“The consistent feedback we receive is that people appreciate that GroupMap is user-friendly, and they really like the ability to collaborate and document in real-time. We also hear from folks that people appreciate seeing the bigger picture when we show group learning and aggregated themes / outliers and an ability to interact with each other’s posts through comments and likes, etc.” 

Lastly, The Outside identified that through GroupMap, they have been empowered to further their commitment to implement large scale systems change towards greater equity. 

“As a global consultancy we often fly all over the world burning carbon and contributing to climate change, while at the same time doing good work to help shift some of our most entrenched and stuck systems.”

“The irony is not lost on us. We had committed over the coming years to massively reduce our carbon footprint to get to a point of net zero carbon emissions. The shift to GroupMap has radically accelerated our ability to do that. What I had expected us to take 2 years to get to, we did it in two months! It has been a massive lift but a worthwhile one.”

“I believe we can now build a model going forward which will enable us to work globally and massively reduce the carbon footprint of our organization. Our team alone lives and works in 5 different countries – our clients are spread even further.”

Want to try GroupMap for your next online workshop? 

Schedule a demo with a GroupMap team member at a day and time that suits you best or have a go of our easy to use, supported online collaboration tool for FREE for 14 days today.

5 activities for creating engaging workshops with impact

Creating engaging workshops is hard work, with research showing that our capacity for attention is lower than a goldfish!

In addition to this, the digital noise around us can be so loud that only something almost extreme can get through, that we expect so much more from movies, a brand or products to get our attention. 

Likewise, we expect no less from our trainers and/or facilitators. 

Here at GroupMap, creating innovation to make workshops, meetings and ideas more collaborative, engaging and have impact excites us. 

When you need the most creative ideas, honest answers or innovative solutions, GroupMap lets you create anonymous brainstorming sessions. Individual (or silent) brainstorming means that everyone can add their ideas and concepts without being influenced by others, including the boss! 

Share inspirations, pictures, hand-drawn images or notes without fear, production blocks or bias.

Here’s five activities suggestions using our workshop tools to more effectively facilitate amazing conversations!

 

Activity 1: Set your team culture to start an engaging workshop 

Start your workshop by setting and validating your team culture. This means getting shared agreement on expectations, objectives and also the ever so important house rules! 

You can easily do this using the Team Canvas ready to use template in GroupMap. The team canvas has been developed to create team alignment, minimize conflict and build a productive culture. 

Engaging workshops with team canvas

Activity 2: Define problems  

Have you ever heard of the saying that a problem defined is half solved? Create engaging workshops with impact by getting participants to brainstorm through solutions, ideas, and alternatives to defined problems. 

Then engage them even more by asking participants to rank and decide on the best possible outcomes. 

GroupMap’s Problem Solving template can help guide a group from defining a problem to deciding on solutions and measuring results. You can then use dot votes to indicate the key points in each step. 

Define problems
A simple 5 step approach that takes people from problem definition through to solutions.

Activity 3: Use the impact effort matrix

Once you have brainstormed solutions to the defined problem/s, you can further engage workshop participants by getting them involved in the process of prioritising ideas and actions based on impact and effort 

GroupMap’s Impact Effort Matrix template is a time saving technique that helps your team prioritize what to do next. 

Here you can rank activities to discover quick wins through to major projects. 

Define impact for engaging workshops
Prioritise projects and initiatives based on impact and effort.

Activity 4: Risk mapping and stakeholder mapping 

Once you and your workshop participants have prioritized actions, you might need to look through what are the risks associated with each action and which stakeholders do you need to consider with each action. 

We recommend creating engaging workshops in this phase by using two methods:

  • Map risks: position risks based on likelihood and impact. Using our template you can dot vote on key risks and decide how actions can be taken. The results here can be used to develop a risk management plan. 
  • Map your stakeholders : improve your communication strategy by deciding who you need to monitor and who you need to manage closely. You can do this easily using our Stakeholder Map template. 

stakeholder-mapping

Activity 5: End an engaging workshop with a retrospective 

At the end of your workshop, it’s important to get feedback on what they think was great and what can be improved. It also helps with recording what needs to be done next (aka an action list) and what still needs to be addressed. 

Using a template such as the WRAP retrospective in GroupMap you can use a technique or game that helps your participants form original ideas by sharing what their Wishes are for an ideal sprint, their Appreciation of what has happened, any Risks they foresee and Puzzles that remain unsolved. 

WRAP up an engaging workshop
Reflect on what went well for the meeting as well as what you could do to improve next time.

Try these five activities with GroupMap today!

Want to try these five inspirations to create more engaging workshops with impact at your next workshop? 

You can today with 14 days free trial. 

Also, check out some of our 60+ group decision-making templates, some of which we’ve mentioned here.