Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Leah's First Workshop

I was very excited last week to take the lead on a workshop for the first time! I have co-facilitated other workshops with either Rachel or Dave but this was the first one that I was primarily responsible for.
We were asked by The Department of Human Communication Sciences (HCS) to run a process mapping workshop. The aim of the workshop was to map the process for registering distance learning students, in order to clarify what the process is and who is responsible for which steps.

What went well?
Prior to the workshop I felt it would be helpful to meet with HCS  to allow me to better understand where their confusion around the process lay. It became clear that one of the biggest problems was that the department felt they needed to send out numerous communications to students with instructions for registering and to chase them if they did not register because they did not feel clear about what information was being sent out by Student Services. This resulted in students receiving large numbers of emails, sometimes with contradictory information.
I therefore thought that it would be helpful to look at all the different communications going out to students throughout the process and received copies prior to the workshop to look at. This helped us to make a list of all the different communications during the workshop, making it clearer for HCS what information was going out to students and when.
It can sometimes be difficult to know, prior to a workshop, who exactly needs to be there before the scope of the problems and processes to be looked at is decided. It was reassuring to see during the workshop, that we had the right people around the table, allowing us to map the processes accurately.  
We delivered the agreed outputs during the workshop, coming out with a map of the processes, a list of communications to students, ideas for improvement and an action plan of further work.
The timings within the workshop also seemed to work allowing us to cover everything that we needed to without it feeling too rushed.

What will I do differently next time?
There is always a risk of ‘scope creep’ during a workshop as it can often be difficult to know the extent of the problems beforehand. Next time, I will encourage clearer agreement from the group about what is and isn’t in scope for that day earlier, allowing us to better manage our timing. I was not clear enough about the ground rules for the day. For example, I did not explain the use of yellow post-its for questions and green post-its for good ideas. This meant that the group were not clear where they should be recording their thoughts.
We mapped onto flip chart paper instead of on the wall which seemed to work well, but I still have mixed feelings about mapping onto paper. Although it does encourage the group to be more involved with the mapping as they can all be amending and updating it, I do think that it only works for smaller groups, otherwise it is difficult for everyone to see what is happening, it is also more difficult to make any amendments.          

I really enjoyed running my first workshop and I am looking forward to putting in place the improvements I have identified for my next one.        

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