Last time we discussed about Creative collaboration and Structured Idea Development. Now I want to divide it into much smaller parts and the first thing that I want to start with is about achieving your goals by learning some basics of workshops and how to work by using workshop techniques from the start till the end. In my last post I finished with a project that you are asked to do. I mentioned the process briefly on doing the project but now I will explain it in much detail. So the workshop design will help you understand the basics on starting and finishing projects. I also want you to remember the basics of Facilitation. The basics are all the previous posts. 🙂 So if you are new I will suggest that you start from the beginning.

Workshop Design

The following is from my class and one of our Facilitators made these notes. So I am just sharing them with you. I will repeat the way I did it so it will be fun to do it again with you guys.

First of all what is workshop? Can any of you describe it? Okay, let us form some groups and discuss this question among yourself. Come up with a definitions and agree upon one in each group.  I give you 20 minutes for this. Once you have done this you can start reading below. I am also going to share my definitions which matter of fact are the collaborations of the groups that i was part of and each group agreed upon one of these.

  1. A process of learning with a specific topic where by each or individual person come to a certain point of practicing and sharing knowledge.
  2. A structured learning process that could be both practical and theoretical and by collaborating with individuals.
  3. A practical group activity that aims to develop skills and learning.
  4. Structured learning activity in which the participants collaborate in learning by doing tasks.

I would love to see what you have done or come up with. So please share your definitions with me.

In my last post I gave you a project and I explained a Structured Idea Development. But I didn’t explain the steps in detail and I left it up to you people to formulate your own development practice. I hope that you have done great and some time soon will share your project findings with me. 🙂

Now lets look at the different stages and go through them one by one.

structured Idea Development


Here you can see that the whole project is divided into different parts and each part is of significance importance. The start is as important as the end result as well as all the other parts.


It is the most important part of any project. People get to know each other at this stage and thus starts the group dynamics. At this stage it is also important to form a evaluation format for the end. This is a initial stage of the project and we will call it A for now. This is a phase to make the goal and evaluation method. Please look at the image below that gives the overview of the stages.

Workshop Design

Let us see now how can we move from A to B in a most creative way. And if we talk about basics than this is the best way to do it.

Workshop Design - Three phases of creativity

Workshop Design – Three phases of creativity

As you can see now the A is an opening phase and B is an closing phase and the middle part is an exploration phase. If you loo at the structured idea development pic at the top you will see that Exploration phase is further divided into three more phases. In total there are 5 basic steps to consider in any project. So if you are clear at this point we can move forward and discuss all these steps one by one.

workshop Design - Opening Phase

workshop Design – Opening Phase

Opening phase is also know as divergent phase. This is a phase where participants introduce themselves and gets the information about each other.   This is very important step and I have covered it in my early posts. So please go back and read them 🙂 . In this stage you start to develop ideas. This is a time where everybody participates and give their ideas on the project at hand. So basically there are lots of ideas coming at this phase which brings lots of opportunities and possibilities to work on. This is a phase of energy and optimism.


Critical Thinking is Forbidden in this phase.

This is a phase where you are and going to be open minded and welcoming to all the ideas from all the members of the group.


This is a phase where you are going to discuss your ideas. And we know that from Structured Idea Development this phase is further divided into three phases. This phase is also called Emergent phase.

Workshop Design - Explore

Workshop Design – Explore

So in simple words in this phase we start generating ideas as we have started in the opening phase and continue working on those ideas. This is the divergent phase of the Exploring phase. Once you are done bringing ideas on the table you are ready to work on those ideas. This is called the Developing Idea phase. Group starts to go through the ideas you have on the table by discussing them and discarding the ideas that are not suitable. This you can do by exploring and experimenting on the ideas. Look for patterns. Look at the project with the eyes of all the members in the group.  Search the unexpected and surprising ideas. Sort out the ideas. Build on the ideas of each other and test your findings. Next is Making Ideas Concrete phase of Exploration phase. You are not done at the end of this stage. It is like for example if you have 50 ideas at the beginning of this stage and you are testing on these ideas than by the end of this phase you should have 15 to 20 concrete ideas. In simple words it is not a decision making phase you are still experimenting and agreeing upon most ideas that are suitable and workable and tested to some extent.


Workshop Design - Closing phase

Workshop Design – Closing phase


This is also known as Convergent phase. In this phase group gets critical and realistic. It is a final stage before the group reaches the conclusion or on a final idea. Group chooses and selects the most prominent idea or ideas. If there were 15 in the previous phase then now there should be one big idea and 1 or 2 back up ideas. So the group prioritize there ideas and makes the final decision at the end with every body on board.

Now tell me one thing, is this not the best way of starting, exploring and finishing a project. And as a process facilitator you provided an overall structure in which a group or client comes up with his/her own ideas and by using this process your client and group is always satisfied by the results.

this is not over yet. I know some of you might be thinking about methods on doing each phase. So there are 2 ways. One I have already explained in my previous posts. I mean that if you are a regular reader of my posts you already know some methods to work with. The second way is to read the key words that I am now sharing with you guys and research on them a bit. Because If I explain these methods here than it will be a very long post.


For the opening phase you can try brainstorming. Now for this a simple Google search will provide you bunch of options. Like for example Brain-writing method, Draw the problem and discuss on it or Forced Analogy ( words and images) method. Again remember that Critical thinking is not allowed at this stage. All ideas are welcome at this phase.

For the explore phase try to experiment on ideas as much as you can. Discussions are the best way. This can be done by listening to all the members. Find similarities and unexpected connections from listening to the ideas or when you are experimenting on ideas. And in between check that you are still on track by going back to the starting phase and taking a look at your goals and methods of evaluation. This is an important point to remember as a Process facilitator as this is our job to keep the group on track. group must observe and analyze at every point during this stage. This is a phase to focus on details. Every word is important at this point. Basically the abstract ideas are now shaping up to be concrete ideas. So have cluster of ideas that are now forming up in a shape to be visualized easily. There are many ways/methods to adopt during this stage like for example The 5 Whys, Open Space, Mood Board and Heart, Hand, Mind method (Google them).

Finally, during the Closing Phase which is a converging phase you prioritize and make decisions. The methods that you can use here are for example Dot Voting, Forced Ranking, $100 Test or Who/What/When (all these are a google search away).

Some Final words:

  • Don’t Open and Close at the same time. Because we can’t be creative and critical at the same time.
  • Close everything that you open or you will risk loosing energy of the group.
Workshop Design - Overall look

Workshop Design – Overall look


Yes, so this is it for today. 🙂 I hope you understood all the steps and gained something.

I will see you in my next post so until then have fun!!!




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