Ideas for innovation workshop

17 Apr 2007 - 4:15pm
7 years ago
1 reply
2731 reads
beril guvendik
2006

Hi everyone,

I was selected to be one of the organizer of my company's engineering
off-site this year and one of the themes is "Innovation" - a whole day
is dedicated to it. I am currently the only UEx designer with the
company. The discussions of innovation will revolve around many
topics: technology, process, business and hopefully interaction
design. It will be in a workshop/discussion format which may or may
not include a speaker.

One idea which came from someone external to the organizers was to
have break-out groups to come up with "innovative" ideas for our
product lines or business, present these ideas to the larger team and
have the best idea to become one of the projects for 2007. I am not
sure whether a few days of off-site would be enough for people to
detach themselves from the technological, business, design etc.
constraints they have to live with on a daily basis and innovate. If
that's possible, I don't know a good method to do it.

I'd like to ask you all if you've had a successful one day innovation
workshop, how it was organized. Even if you didn't have the
experience, how would you go about it? Any resources that you are
aware of will also be tremendously appreciated.

Thanks!
Beril Guvendik

Comments

18 Apr 2007 - 5:35pm
Pawson, Mark
2007

Hi Beril,

Our company, in its smaller days, used to run these regularily once a
year. I can tell you what worked and what did not. The most successful
offsites were those run by the development team as opposed to the
company wide offsites. The reasons for this were very simple. The
developers went with a focussed agenda and concentrated only on the
issues they wanted to deal with, projects, idea generation, process
improvement, QA, education, relationships with support etc. The offsite
was truly offsite, not in a hotel close to the office but out of the
city in a mountain location. We were only one hour drive from
spectacular mountain scenary in a lodge on a Native reserve. The idea
was to be away from the office and no phones allowed, also play was part
of the agenda, ie take short exploring nature breaks. Each member of the
offsite had to take their turn being a moderator while another would do
scribe duties, after an hour the next two members would take over. This
ensured everyone on the team was engaged. Time was strictly set on each
item so debates would not rage for hours.
Each session ended with decisions, action plans or at least agreement to
disagree on issues. The latter issues were moved to a parking lot that
would be reviewed at weekly development meetings to see if there was
resolution or if the issue should be dropped. After the offsite all
minutes would be collated and distributed to the entire team and
presentations to other teams were arranged. It perhaps also helped that
we had a flat management structure so there were no managers at these
meetings. We only had a President who appreciated the Development and QA
teams figuring things out for themselves. Dev team size was about 15.

Company wide meetings brought in too many mixed agendas, endless hours
of business reports from the various teams and after about four hours a
lot of sleepy looking faces. Company size was about 40.

Mark Pawson

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