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.

GroupMap Open Space Virtual Methodology

groupmap open space live session

Introducing TFK Consulting  

Thomas Krecker of TK Consulting

TFK Consulting is a group coaching and changing advisers based in Hamburg, Germany, who provide their service via virtual workshops, digital facilitations and face-to-face meetings or events. 

Thomas Krecker is the Principal Consultant who has had extensive experience as an events manager and conference organizer. Thomas believes in the power of technology to help deliver a more sustainable, accessible and engaging event. 

He has been working with digital tools for team building since 1995, using them for online and offline facilitating. 

Thomas also co-creates and co-facilitate online workshops for consultants across various industries and disciplines, who want to continue with their existing service offerings and methodology without going too deep into the online world. 

“Good coaching is not reserved for companies and executives. Much of the technology used today in business… can, of course, be used for all human issues, regardless of the environment in which we are located.” 

Challenges with offline Open Space 

Having run many conferences, events and conducting coaching sessions for businesses and companies around the world, Thomas saw the increased importance of new methodologies.

The challenge Thomas saw when conducting traditional conferences face-to-face are:

    • They can be dysfunctional. Studies, including that by University of Utrecht (Stroebe, 2010) show that brainstorming in groups is less effective than thinking for yourself. Continued interruption, group dynamics, hierarchy, extroverted vs less extroverted leaders were some of the main reasons found that can block free thinking!
    • They can be inaccessible. Face to face events are expensive to run and have a time resource effect as well. This can influence attendees’ ability to attend and participate.
    • They can be admin heavy. Most of the breakout and workshop sessions still use flipcharts, pinboards and needles to capture feedback. This often needed to be typed up, transcribed, and translated – a heavy time investment.
    • They do not meet the demands of modern agile Teams

“In 2014, we wanted to program our own solution for better meetings. Since then I have been permanently screening the market for a solution.”

As a solution they combined the Open Space meeting methodology with the advantages of digital facilitation using GroupMap, tablets and beamer instead of pinboards and flipchart, creating instant anonymity, silent work and inspiration, exactly as the participants needed.

GroupMap Open Work Space on tablets

Open Space – often called Barcamp or a non-conference – is participant driven and less organizer-convener-driven. Participants would decide about the conference agenda themselves and are also free to join or leave every conference session, depending on what interests them most.

The next challenge was, to bring this format into the online world.

This process was driven by the conviction that the so-called “new normal” in workshops and team development will need to be a mixture of online and offline meetings. The latter was to be run based on a needs capacity, and as appropriate to the teams’ priorities, such as sustainability, time and money considerations. 

GroupMap Open Space as a solution 

“It turned out that transferring an Open Space into online using GroupMap was much easier than expected.”  

GroupMap Open Work Space Information Booth

Thomas and his team synchronized individual Zoom meetings with GroupMap by pinning the meeting address on the related map.  Each map was then turned into online “rooms” each with a descriptive image that made it feel like you were physically somewhere!

GroupMap Open Space by TK Consulting

For example, the “Foyer” was used not only as the first point of welcome or entrance to the “GroupMap Open Space” but also a teaser practice for writing on a map. Meanwhile the bar and the information counter became easy points for participants to return, get help or just chat outside the other sessions. 

GroupMap Open Work Space Foyer      GroupMap Open Work Space Bar

Being able to enter the rooms without a host’s permission lets you stroll through and join the sessions as you would like – similar to if it was a face to face event. 

“The experience and the idea of room matters a lot to the human brain. It gives orientation, security and inspiration. It adds “a feel” to the screen.” 

Virtual Open Space is a hit! 

According to Thomas, the “GroupMap Open Space” style is one of the most successful formats he has run.

“One of the major advantages of is the simplicity and the Pinboard look and feel. Especially in online workshops, where same participants are still stressed and get sidetracked by technical issues, the simplicity cannot be overrated.” 

GroupMap Open Work Space Activity

Through GroupMap Open Space conference can be successfully run through combining the use of features such as:

    • The ability to create your own maps – GroupMap’s self customized template options allowed Thomas to transform many existing methodologies – such as many of the liberating structures, root cause analysis, ZRM (picture based resource evaluation), Ishikawa and many more – into the GroupMap templates. 
    • Rating functionality – the ability to rate in different dimensions for brainstorming sessions help to define and weigh each idea in the brainstorming session. 
    • Automatic reporting the ability to have all the information from every session downloadable, without having to transcribe and type up – is a time and resource saving. 
    • Create new maps and workspaces instantlythe ability to create new maps, add new workspaces and sessions while participants are working in other maps allowed for a very agile and responsive way of delivering conferences. 

Session Board Example

GroupMap build teams and encourages brainstorming 

“GroupMap is the core of team building and brainstorming for our customers, like Google or Microsoft is the core for the standard processes.”  

Thomas indicated that the feedback on “GroupMap Open Space” has been predominantly very good, with most participants being impressed by the speed and the platform’s ability to create a real “group feeling” online. 

“The best feedback I heard was from a group of 35 consultants who ended up using a GroupMap Open Space as a substitute for a personal meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They had doubts that a virtual open space would work. In the end, they came out with better and more results than in any physical meeting before.” 

Want to try GroupMap for your next online meeting? 

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. 

Virtual Executive Event with GroupMap- from analogue to digital in 3 days

telescope-advisers

david-clarke-virtual-event-facilitator

Executive events for fast-growth companies 

Telescope Advisers is a management consultancy based in Georgia, Atlanta, with a focus on creating value and impact for fast-growth companies. Since 2000, its principal consultant, David Clark, has helped businesses and organisations around the world to bring clarity, focus and alignment. 

David outlined some of key highlights of Telescope Advisers’ work: 

  • A five year strategy for a $150m extension of the North Carolina state health system;
  • Business planning and strategies for implementation for Habitat for Humanity’s world-wide country programs, which became the most requested service by the organisation.

To deliver these results, Telescope Adviser would conduct management workshops, executive events and retreats. 

“Telescope Adviser’s retreats typically involve plenary sessions before breaking into smaller workshop groups for brainstorming and detailed discussions, captured on white boards or flip charts that will then need to be recorded or transcribed” said David. 

 

Pandemic pushed for executive event to go virtual

David had planned, months in advance, for a four day executive event involving participants from Australia, South Africa and multiple cities across the U.S. 

However, the Friday before the event was due to begin, countries, including the U.S. imposed immediate travel restrictions as part of their COVID-19 plans.

“Obviously a face to face meeting became impossible and waiting for things to improve before holding the retreat was also not an option because it would have significantly impacted the project schedule of the organisation we were working with,” explained David. 

It was decided by all stakeholders involved that the event should go ahead and be delivered in a virtual executive event format. 

“Everyone agreed on videoconferencing to deliver the event, and Zoom was an obvious choice, but the question remained on how do we manage virtual collaborative discussions and decision making process?”  

 

Creating a global virtual executive event in 3 days & counting

On the same Friday that domestic and international travel were being grounded almost worldwide, David began a frantic search for an online tool that could support virtual executive meetings and events, allow for online collaboration and is easy for everyone – with different levels of technology competence – can use. 

David recalled that his search generated many options but many were discounted because they were either too confusing to set up or complicated to use. 

“Time was ticking before the virtual executive event was meant to start on the Monday, before I recalled reading about an online brainstorming tool called GroupMap in a blogpost,” said David.

“A quick Google search, a read on the GroupMap website and an intuitive quick demo personally from its CEO, Jeremy Lu, convinced me that this is the most suitable and supported tool to run my first virtual executive event.” 

GroupMap’s features of 60 brainstorming and decision making templates (called Maps) that can be easily customised, the ability to create own maps to align with Telescope Adviser’s objectives, expectations or preferred formats were big ticks for David. 

“I was completely sold on the software and when I presented my proposal to the stakeholders, they were happy to proceed virtually on the Monday using Zoom and GroupMap,” said David.

 

GroupMap the right choice for virtual events!

“As soon as the virtual executive event kicked off on Monday, I knew we had made the right choice by using GroupMap,” David commented. 

As team breakouts occurred after the plenary session, participants started using GroupMap for brainstorming. 

voting-virtual-event
GroupMap for voting on ideas

These GroupMap features helped kept the participants on track and importantly, engaged:

  • Ability to create Workspaces by group and day and controlling access so that participants will only be able to access the maps for each workshop. This ensured everybody was on the same page for each of the virtual workshops, eliminating any confusion. 
  • Ease of use for sharing and voting that allowed all participants to input their ideas, comments, suggestions individually or collaboratively before proceeding to online voting and deciding on actions.
  • Facilitator’s ability to customise the process in GroupMap on the fly, including when participants were busy with digital brainstorming and input into the maps, so that it is possible to quickly pivot based on the situation or discussions on the day.
  • All inputs captured automatically, so there was no need to manually record information or to be concerned about not capturing an idea or losing notes. 
  • Sorting functionality made it easier for representatives of each group to use reports of prioritised ideas, actions, timelines to present when the virtual plenary session resumed.

Benefits of digital facilitation fully realised

“GroupMap literally salvaged our virtual executive global event. We would not have been able to have our workshop nor accomplished as much without this tool,” said David. 

soar-analysis-virtual-event
GroupMap’s SOAR Analysis Template

The flexible and customisable capabilities of GroupMap allowed David to run a number of proven approaches, normally done face to face, delivered online effectively. Some of these include:

  • SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results) Analysis
  • ESVP (Explorer, Shopper, Vacationer, or Prisoner) Retrospectives
  • Purpose Retrospectives
  • Understanding and Defining Purpose
  • Pitch a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
  • Impact on ideas
  • Core competencies

Using GroupMap also showed participants of the many positive benefits of digital facilitation:

  • Cost savings – As is expected with face-to-face events, there is considerable commitment of time and resources required prior and during the events. The booking of venues, travel, physical equipment hire – all adds up – and can be significantly reduced virtually.
  • Time savings – GroupMap’s automatic recording of ideas and discussions means no more hours of transcribing required!
  • Accessibility For organisations with tight travel budgets or resource constraints, GroupMap is a must-have for all virtual meetings. 

“We have always envisioned a world connected through technology. Now we know it has arrived and we are ready for this new era with empowering online tools such as GroupMap” said David.

“Next up for me is to use the software for a whole workshop and stop playing around with sticky notes. I am now a big fan of GroupMap.”

 

Want to try GroupMap for FREE? 

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.