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Workshop this. Planning-ness

Posted on Sunday, 8th April, 2012

Sometimes, pulling ideas out of people takes work, myself included. Ideas exist in our minds, but sometimes they are ill-formed or fragmented partial ideas. Workshops/ideation sessions are part of the equation to generating valuable insights.

Have you ever been in a non-structured workshop or brainstorm session? I have.
It’s painful.








I believe no idea is a bad idea, but I also believe that ideas need to be focused around the task/objective at hand. For instance if you are trying to build a content strategy for a company/brand to expand an existing campaign, we don’t necessarily want ideas about a new campaign to surface—that would be off strategy.

I’m all for taking every idea into consideration, but it helps when the brainstorm is structured so the output of the session is as strategically focused and actionable as possible.

Overtime, I’ve sat through and led many workshops and learned from the best of best what works. Preparing for an ideation session is an arduous task and first starts with getting the stakeholders smart on the target needs, category analysis and brand objectives. The deep dive is one of my favorite parts of my job (I’m an insights junky). But then comes the thinking.

Moderating the workshop is another story. There are plenty of methods and constructs to exercise the mind in unconventional ways. Lately I’ve been experimenting with new ways/tools to garner valuable and relevant thinking, particularly around the utilization of emerging technology and digital/social channels— an area that not everyone at the table may have knowledge of, or experience with. Mindmaps, evaluative criteria and worksheets just scratch the surface of available tools. I frequently leverage my colleagues’ experience and approaches every time I put a workshop plan/deck together and it’s professional goal of mine this year to focus more heavily on these skills as they relate to innovation and digital engagement.

I’m looking forward to honing my planning skills by attending the Planning-ness Conference 2012 this May with one of my favorite colleagues/friends. It’s a conference for creative thinkers and explorers that is focused on “doing”, not talking. I have waxed on about the T-Shaped skills that I think all strategists should have: the ability to think and do; what I love about this conference is that each of the sessions has a learning component where you are taught a new skill or way to approach a problem, and a doing component where you put it all into action.

I’m confident that having exposure to a creatively inspired agenda and interacting with a small group of strategists will open my mind to new ways of creative problem solving and thinking about business and marketing in general; takeaways that go way beyond leading successful workshops.


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