The only tool you need to prep for your next workshop

Jackie Colburn
4 min readJan 14, 2022

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This worksheet is the key to your best meeting/workshop/planning session yet.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

It’s the beginning of the year, which means teams are doubling down on meetings, planning workshops, and project kickoffs. If you find yourself organizing a session like this and need a little support outlining who, what, when, where and why, this worksheet is your new best friend.

I use it to plan in advance for my own workshops because it helps make the overall experience so much clearer and more fruitful.

If you’re looking for more guidance, keep reading as I walk through the worksheet with examples for completing each section of the tool, which you can access by right-clicking and saving the below image.

Section 1: What problem do you want to solve?

This might seem obvious, but the problem should always be your starting point. It informs the problem statement, which is critical for clearly defining the opportunity so the team can align and rally around it.

Leading with “How might we…” implies that theres a solution (it’s optimistic!). The next part, “so that…” is equally as important because it forces you to think about why you want to solve this problem. It also guides you to lead with the outcome you want to see for the customer.

Let’s use an example. Say you work for Acme Financial and your team wants to improve a moment in the prospect journey when considering Acme Financial. Your draft problem statement could look like:

How might we improve the prospective customer experience during the evaluation period between the point of inquiry and onboarding so that it is easier for the prospect to move from prospective to paid client with Acme Financial?

Section 2: What are the expected outcomes?

It’s critical to get specific about what you want to leave the workshop with. Defining this information will give you a north start to guide the journey and keep the team on track when conversations wander.

Let’s return to our example with Acme Financial:

Based on your problem statement, you’ve decided the team should leave the workshop with:

> 2–3 testable concepts

> Learning objectives and key questions to be asked during concept review in the future

> Team support of and alignment around the concept

Section 3: Who, What, When, Where?

Once you’ve identified the problem you’re trying to solve and the outcomes you’d like to work towards, it’s time to make decisions about roles, responsibilities, and logistics.

This part is important and should be given just as much attention as the former sections, otherwise you may find yourself ready to address a challenge without the right team to handle it.

Let’s walk through this checklist with our Acme Financial example in mind:

How will you build empathy for your target customer or end user?

> Compile qualitative and quantitative data to understand the prospect experience today and identify customer pain points.

Who needs to be in the room for the workshop?

> The product team responsible for this specific part of the experience, including the developer, designer, and customer experience rep.

Who needs to give your team approval (stakeholders, executives, etc.)?

> Executive Smith, who owns the line of business

Who will be the “decider” in the room (the person who can make tie-breaking decisions)?

> The product owner (*this person is typically someone who has connection to the bigger picture for the business and has authority to make final calls in the meeting).

Where will you have your workshop (physical or virtual room, like Miro or Mural)?

> In person, we will reserve a conference room at a co-working space so the team can leave their day-to-day environment.

Who will be responsible for logistics and expectation management?

> The product owner

A little bit of advance prep will go a long way in setting your team up for success. This worksheet was created to cover all your planning bases, but I recommend following other best practices to prep your team members for the actual workshop (the methods in the link were created with the Design Sprint in mind, but most can be applied to any intensive workshop or meeting).

If you’d like a PDF version of the Workshop Prep Worksheet, just send me an email via my contact form.

Is something missing from this list? Which parts of the planning process do you get stuck on? Leave a comment or hit me up on twitter for a conversation.

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Jackie Colburn

Weekly resources for facilitators and leaders. Learn tips and methods to run better workshops, accelerate teams and uncover new ideas. www.jackiecolburn.com