As a qualified workshop facilitator, I have guided teams toward a wide variety of successful outcomes. Workshops create perfect alignment across groups and generate much better results in a fraction of the time. I have helped NBG create the go-to-market strategy for a hybrid cable and name a fiber-optic industry event.
This case study, however, will cover a brand name workshop that I have facilitated for NBG. Ensuring that the key people are in the session is the first critical step in ensuring the workshop generates an approved name. Get the right people in the room, including the decider.
Brand Name Workshop: NBG
NBG is a global producer of fiber optic products. We chose to launch a new page on their site which would function as a glossary of terms relating to fiber optic technology. In the short term, the glossary would educate visitors on complicated terms. Long term, the page could develop into an education platform for NBG employees and visitors to the site, helping NBG become a thought leader in the industry.
I began the session with a warm-up. It’s important to create a positive atmosphere at the start of a workshop. I decided to share ten untitled poems on the page. We read the poems together. The participants selected their favourite one and then gave the poem an appropriate title.
I created this exercise because I knew ‘poetry’ would get people out of their comfort zones. Selecting a title for a poem, though, is related to what I wanted the team to achieve in the workshop, which was coming up with a brand name. My exercise also prepared the team for what was to come, which is a combination of working alone in short bursts and sharing ideas with the team.
I selected a bold and clear font for the instructions, giving an indication of how long people were expected to spend on a step, but this should always be used as a guide, not a rule. If anyone needs more time, it’s often a good idea to extend the timer.
Here are some of the team’s suggestions.
After we shared each other’s titles, I uncovered the purple square to reveal the actual titles.
Part One: Brief
Most of the team was aware of what we wanted to achieve before the workshop began, but I always reiterate the key points in the first part of each workshop. I feel it focuses the team on the task, which is sometimes necessary after an enjoyable warm-up. The group should be excited, energized, and focussed.
I shared a screenshot of the example. Some participants will click on the link to explore the example, but others won’t. Sharing a screenshot ensures that everyone on the team has a good understanding of what we’re doing.
Part Two: Brand Name Workshop
The majority of workshops will take more than a few hours to complete, sometimes a few sessions over the course of one or two weeks. But this session was a one-hour sprint, so it was time to come up with some names.
The participants worked in their own space, encouraged to share as many potential names as possible. Workshops don’t work unless everyone is sharing every idea that comes to their mind. It’s up to the process to weed out poor suggestions, not the participants. Trust the process, share all you’ve got, and we will achieve our goal together.
After the timer rang for twelve minutes, I allowed every participant the time to read over all the suggestions and vote on their favourite options. Everyone had five votes and they were free to use them however they wanted – five votes on one idea that they loved, one vote on five ideas, or any combination in between.
Part Three: Heat-Map Tree Voting
Workshops are great at visualising abstract things, and the heat-map tree is a quick visual representation of the most popular ideas.
Here are the group’s suggestions displayed as a heat-map tree.
When each participant added their initials to their suggestion they were given 1 minute to talk about why they had selected that idea. It’s not a debate. It’s their time to say anything they want.
The final vote, as always, is given to the decider. Every workshop has a decider who can overrule anything in the workshop and even select a strategy or idea that no one else has voted for. It sounds undemocratic, but it’s better for the decider to throw out an idea after a few minutes than a few months after countless hours have been spent.
In this workshop, the decider selected the top suggestion and we had NBG’s glossary name. One of the reasons it was successful is that it allowed some room for the glossary to develop into a much more comprehensive education platform. And we were done within the hour!