5 Things We Learned When We Held a Full Day Strategy Workshop Online

By redback

At Redback, we like to drink our own champagne when it comes to collaborating online.

A few weeks ago, we held a company strategy day, attended by the executive team. We hold these events on a quarterly basis — usually at an offsite location, and usually face-to-face.

We follow a set agenda which is all about ensuring the company remains on track and in growth.

This time, however, many of our team members were working remotely — which meant the strategy day could only go ahead if it was conducted online.

Luckily, we are pretty familiar with online group collaboration tools given that internet based videoconferencing, web conferencing and teleconferencing tools are a key part of our product suite!

This was a strategic workshop and all about collaboration, so we used our video conferencing product, Redback Video. All participants and the facilitator joined the video conference, and everyone had their camera on. Even for us, it was a first!

So how did we adapt a full-day physical workshop to a virtual event and what did we learn?

  1. Shorten the event

We practised what we preach. We often advise customers to shorten face-to-face events if they’re going to be delivered online, and we shortened our own event by about 20%.

So instead of being online from 9am to 5pm, our strategy day ran from 9am to 3pm, which ended up being a good length for what we needed to get through.

We also included many more breaks in between sessions to enable the team to grab a coffee, check urgent messages, or just get up and stretch their legs.

  1. Set a firm agenda

We had a plan for the day and we stuck to it!

We run on EOS which stands for Entrepreneurial Operating System and is a standard process for managing entrepreneurial businesses. These were the sessions we ran through:

  • Check-in on the past quarter
  • Review our scorecard for the quarter
  • Review key initiatives we’re responsible for and decide if they are still relevant
  • Review our vision and traction for the quarter and year to see if we are still on track
  • Discuss challenges and ideas in the business.

Having a clear agenda kept us on track, and ensured we knew exactly what to expect. It was also important to have our planning documents with us — this included all revenue figures, budgets and forecasts.

  1. You can brainstorm virtually

We had a facilitator who hosted the event and drove the agenda, freeing us up to focus on strategy.

When we got to the final session, we used a methodology called IDS to brainstorm problems and how to solve them. IDS stands for: What’s the Issue? Discuss and Solve.

Our host used a smart blackboard that he wrote on as we worked through these issues. The words were saved to PDF documents and sent to each of us later — these then formed our To Do list for the next month.

  1. The value of silence

You have to work at achieving the same level of collaboration online that you can have face-to-face, and while you might miss out on some of the atmosphere in the room, it’s certainly possible to get close.

Our strategy day was collaborative and productive. Having said that, it can feel like you have to be constantly speaking up to be visible.

One of the things we did to support thoughtful collaboration was to include ‘silent’ breaks for reflection.

That gave the team time during sessions to absorb the progress we’d just made, and gather their thoughts on the topic. When the break concluded we could bring those thoughts to the table.

  1. *it happens

Things happen when you’re working remotely.

I had an urgent call I needed to take part-way through the event — so I jumped off the video conference and took the call.

This meant my mind wasn’t wandering during the session and I could be fully present once it was dealt with and I could return.

So there you have it — proof you can run a full-day workshop in a virtual format and get some valuable outcomes.

It’s definitely easier to manage these sessions in small groups, or you’ll be constantly asking participants to mute or un-mute their lines, which can put a dampener on a brainstorming session.

And don’t forget to build in additional breaks and thinking time to make sure you’re not just sitting in front of your screen all day!

Redback offers real-time video conferencing on any video enabled device, built on the world-class Polycom Video infrastructure for the highest quality user experience.

Reach out to a sales representative if we can help run your next strategy day online.


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