I #love process workshops

I’ll say that again, I love process workshops. Over the last 10 years I’ve run hundreds of workshops working with teams to reach a common understanding about ‘how things are done around here’ or to design new ways of working. In that time I’ve never been in a workshop that I didn’t enjoy.

There have been times when it’s been hard, generally participants resisted participating for a variety of reasons. But they always ended in everyone getting some value from the experience and I’m not talking about a bunch of flow charts!

If you’ve not been in a process workshop before, or at least one that I’ve run, it goes something like this: you gather a group of ‘stakeholders’ in a given area of process. I say ‘area of process’ but in truth it’s normally existing teams or departments that are not really organized around process. The goal is to reach a shared understanding of the existing process (sometimes called the As-Is) or to design and agree a new process (To-Be). The output is a set of documentation and recommendations.

process workshop

For me it’s always been about communication and understanding. Get the team together to talk about things they generally assume each other knows but in reality don’t, or don’t see it in the same way. As a result the approach is simple; who are you, what do you do and why, next. With such a simple approach people engage quickly and easily with it. Conversations develop, especially around the why, that gives the team a deeper understanding of what each other does, the challenges they face, the value they add and the help they need. It’s about the team working effectively together and at the end of the session they know it.

A byproduct of this interaction is a set of documentation and lists including pain points and improvement suggestions. As far as the participants are concerned this may well disappear into the ether and resurface as some sort of automated solution in the future. But right now they don’t care as the chances are they learnt something new today that will make their lives easier.

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