Workshop design and facilitation

Ryan leads a 22-person strategic workshop

Workshops can be incredibly powerful tools if done properly. Too often, however, the term workshop in the consulting world means "a collective waste of time and money."

I have extensive experience designing and leading effective workshops. I’ve worked with several Fortune 500 clients to help them achieve rapid, valuable outcomes by:

  • Working closely with client and project team members to clarify realistic objectives
  • Identifying the proper participants
  • Creating balanced, achievable agendas
  • Getting the right team in the workshop – experienced facilitator(s), subject matter experts, note takers
  • Capturing everything that happens in the meeting
  • Focusing on actions and outcomes, and on owners and accountability
From 2007 to 2010, I either led or participated in half a dozen different key strategic workshops with Chevron, for everything from web site redesign to social media strategy. Sessions involved anywhere from 5-15 participants, and ranged from pure ideation sessions, to more targeted working groups aimed at solutions to very specific problems. View timelapse video of the initial web site redesign brainstorming session (requires Quicktime plugin).
As one of the three largest International auction houses in the world, with history dating back to 1793, Bonhams was poised to push their web site forward. Significant technical constraints, along with the realities of complex business operations spanning two continents, meant that the web site redesign needed to be approached thoughtfully, with a strategy that could be realized. Multiple working sessions were held with internal stakeholders and technical partners to determine the best way forward.
With a variety of products and services, many of which had evolved over time or been added through acquisition, Citrix was in a position where it needed to evolve. They wanted to explore the development of a deeper user experience design strategy, one where design complements engineering instead of serving it. Over a series of three days, with teams from eight different business units in Florida and Silicon Valley, and all key executive stakeholders, we conducted workshops to explore these issues and drive consensus.
Beachbody is an incredibly successful fitness brand, with a wide range of DVD products and health supplements that get people more fit and more healthy. Team Beachbody provides a social component to their products, one that helps people stay motivated and work together to achieve their goals. We conducted a series of facilitated workshops to explore the landscape of possible features for their new web site, which would be a complete redesign of their existing offer.
Hewlett Packard Several years ago, HP was reinventing itself. They were creating new visual systems for print, Web, and packaging, and were rearchitecting their global Web sites. I participated in multiple workshops with them (as a subject matter expert, breakout facilitator, note taker), the largest of which gathered more than 45 global stakeholders to resolve critical issues related to their market strategy and the role design played in it.
SAP SAP was going to market with a new product, but needed help aligning their team and refining their product development roadmap; they engaged MetaDesign to work closely with their team in a two-week discovery period. This activity culminated in a stakeholder workshop that exposed and resolved numerous key product development issues.
Autodesk Autodesk has expanded their software offering dramatically in the past several years, but at the cost of some fragmentation in user experience, and some user interface development inefficiencies. MetaDesign was asked to facilitate a two-day workshop with Autodesk where these issues were discussed; I acted as both a subject matter expert and facilitator (having extensive experience with visual design system standards creation). The result was a significantly heightened awareness of the challenges they faced, and commitment on the part of several key stakeholders on actions.
Cisco Systems Cisco, like Autodesk, has a huge array of software products and user interfaces, but no coherent system under which they are unified. MetaDesign was engaged by the User Experience group to address these challenges, and help facilitate a revolution in user interface design at Cisco. I facilitated two separate MetaDesign workshops for Cisco, which ultimately helped the UE group significantly in their efforts.

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