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How to Run Amazing Remote Workshops

Do you find it’s harder to convince people to do virtual work than it is to do work in person?

I usually don’t try to convince anyone of whether or not a Virtual Design Sprint is better for them.

I want to be in a position where it’s a no-brainer that they should work with me, and that I’m the right person for their challenge. And I want to be sure of that too.

If I’m not the right person for the job then I’m going to either refer them to someone else that I know, or I’m going to tell them well in advance that I am not suited to this.

So for me, it’s more about making sure their situation works with a virtual environment. Do the advantages of doing a Virtual Design Sprint align with what their outcomes are? Is their culture a good fit? Does it make sense for both sides?

My ultimate goal is the success of my clients. I want to be able to put my name, my brand, and my reputation on the line for their desired outcome to happen. So I would never want to force the issue of virtual vs. in-person. I’m really about trying to bring value and figure out if I can make a difference.

How did you make the shift to running virtual workshops?

After I left my last place of employment, where I worked as a UX Manager, I took a snapshot of the landscape of where things were headed.

I heard a lot of conversations about how hard it was to do a physical Design Sprint. At the same time, I saw a lot of the friction involved with Sprints kind of fall away in a virtual, online environment.

So I predicted that this is the direction the industry would go in. One of the things that companies are always going to look for is less friction in the process. They often won’t want to fly people into New York, Japan, or Australia. They want flexibility. They want the ability to recall what happened easily. They want to be able to prove to their stakeholders that the investment that they made is worth something.

All of those determining factors made me think that selecting the virtual niche was the right move for me.

I also see people who have originally been skeptical about the idea of remote work, starting to warm up to the idea.

You don’t need to be in the same room at the same time. You just needed to deliver on the promise of the work. You need to collaborate and come to the table with an open mind, and then be able to step away from the monitor and do some deep work on your own as a Designer, Developer, or a Facilitator.

What are your top tips for facilitating remote workshop?

  • Being open to the idea that there’s never one way of doing things right
  • Quickly adapting to new technology that you’re not yet aware of and that other people are using
  • Taking part in the conversations. Whether it’s a one-on-one talk with a fellow Sprinter or in groups like the AJ&Smart’s Design Sprint Masterclass Facebook community. It gets easier to optimize the processes when you hear about other people’s experiences.

Your top software for making remote workshops easier?

Mural, hands down the best whiteboarding software.

What’s the biggest remote project you’ve done?

It’s got to be the Global Virtual Design Sprint. It had 300+ people in April 2019!

I’m planning the new one for November and am going to have about the same number of participants. We’re going to be offering virtual Design Sprint training, showcasing customized templates for all sorts of Design Sprints, and much more!

What’s your one key facilitation tip?

The more you can prepare, the better off you’re going to be.

You have to prepare as much as you can. Not only for the flow of the entire Sprint itself but also for how to communicate and connect with those that are going to be part of the process. You have to align expectations beforehand.

You don’t need to be in the same room at the same time. You just needed to deliver on the promise of the work. You need to collaborate and come to the table with an open mind

ROBERT SKROBE

If you could go back to the time when you were starting with Design Sprints, what’s one piece of advice you wish you’d heard sooner?

I should have shown and told people more about what I was learning as I was learning it. I shouldn’t have waited until an event occurred for me to promote and share with others what was going on. I should have been much more proactive about my process, the journey, and what I learned and why it was so special and important.

Learn more about Robert and the Global Virtual Design Sprint, and check out the Mural boards that were created as part of the initial virtual Sprint here! We dare you not to be inspired!

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