Technique 2 minutes, 25 second read Ben Hayman, Managing Partner, Given
Collaborative co-creation is at the very heart of our agency’s approach to brand purpose here at Given. With the ‘new normal’ meaning our agency and client teams are working remotely for most of the time, we had to adapt our collaborative approach so it could exist online, and wasn’t compromised by the lack of face-to-face contact.
Here are some principles which are helping us make it work.
1. ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE BUT ADAPT
Embrace the unpredictability of home life and adapt to suit this, rather than shoehorn sessions into the format used when face-to-face. Where previously participants may have sat in a room together for an entire day, consider holding three separate ‘Power Hours.’ Not only is this likely to sit better with distractions, it will allow you time in between to reflect on any challenges and responses.
2. BUILD HUMAN CONNECTION OVER TECH
True insight and brilliant ideas come from human connection. With no body language to read, and no face-to-face contact, there needs to be another way to build human rapport. Build in time for personal intros or take the leap and play a game to set the tone of the workshop. Taking time to break the ‘digital ice’ is a crucial step in the success of a virtual co-creation session.
3. GIVE EVERYONE A VOICE
With 25 people on the line, and the politics of when to mute/ speak, it’s difficult to give everyone space to contribute. Facilitators need to be more deliberate than normal to encourage participation and ensure discussions aren’t dominated by a few people. Use Zoom to re-create break out sessions for smaller groups. MIRO & MURAL can help replicate live collaboration using post-its, active listening and polls. Building in individual reflection, share-back and nominated exercises can also be helpful to ensure everyone is heard.
4. BUILD IN TWICE AS MUCH PLANNING
Avoid screen fatigue through great planning. Everyone should be up to speed on the challenge at hand, the purpose of the session, and the agenda. This can be done through building in more time for pre-reads and pre-tasks. Enlist others to support as co-facilitators, scribes, timekeepers and discussion leads – making sure everyone is clear on their role and how the tech works.
5. SET GROUND RULES
When you can’t rely on the normal cues to ‘read the room’, it’s much harder to run collaboration in an agile and ‘open’ way. Successful remote sessions tend to be more focused than normal, meaning facilitators need to be directive rather than letting a discussion take its own course. Start by setting out what you are going to cover, and how you are going to run the session. Make sure to signpost when people can ask questions and when they can contribute. Be vigilant with your timekeeping, there’s no point putting into practice any virtual collaboration techniques if you run out of time!