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Leading User-Centered
Workshops
Kate Kaplan Caitlin Vlastakis Smith
with Cross-Functional Stakeholders
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
fa·cil·i·ta·torfəˈsiləˌtādər/
n.
a person or thing that makes an
action or process easy or easier
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Essential ingredients of a good facilitator:
Listening Bravery1 2
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Topics
1. Setting the Stage
2. Improvising and Guiding
3. Navigating Personalities
4. Maintaining ...
Setting the Stage
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Defining Workshops vs. Meetings
Things will get
discussed
Input and consensus from diverse groups
...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Setting up Workshops for Success
Where are we
going?
Group Purpose Group Culture
How will we get
t...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Groups that establish
group culture and
ground rules together
are more productive in
terms of both...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
“How do I create a group culture
that people will actually respect?”
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox:
Creating Ground Rules
● Divide participants into groups
around themes like Respect,
...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Making the Purpose of your Workshop Clear
● Why am I here?
● What do you want from me?
● What do w...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
“How do I make sure everyone is
on board with how we’ll be
spending our time?”
@caitvsmith@katewka...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your building blocks:
● Goals: The high-level end
result or outcome
● Questions: The information
t...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Workshop Design Canvas
See: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-workshop-agendas/
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Workshop Design Canvas
See: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-workshop-agendas/
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Workshop Design Canvas
See: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-workshop-agendas/
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Workshop Design Canvas
Start here
Share a working draft
with stakeholders
Distribute...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Final Checklist: Setting the Stage
Set the Tone Orient Participants Create a Safe Space
Think ahea...
Improvise & Guide
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Solutioning
Guiding
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Mission
Create alignment
among different
perspectives
Promote Mutual
Understanding
Help Every...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
How do I get everyone talking
and participating?
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Getting
People to Participate
● During introductions, include a
starter question
● E...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Break into teams
of 3 and answer
the following
questions.
Your Toolbox: Group Prompts
Persona Acti...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
How do I build alignment and
keep everyone moving in the
same direction?
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
At the end of
the day, we’ll
know we’re
successful
when:
Your Toolbox:
Staying on Topic
● Consiste...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Mad Libs
Complete the Problem Statement
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
● During a post-up, find patterns in
participant responses
● Categorize themes and call out
discre...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Success Frameworks
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Final Checklist: Improvising & Guiding
Be Flexible Be Real Be Brave
Don’t be a slave to
your agend...
Navigating
Personalities
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
“How do I deal with the
dominator / skeptic / hater
in the room?”
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Dealing with the DOMINATOR
When this person: Apply these tools:
Silences others with...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Dealing with the SKEPTIC
Challenges every point without
valid basis
When this person...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Dealing with the DISENGAGED
When this person: Apply these tools:
Doesn’t actively pa...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
There’s no magic bullet
for dealing with difficult
personalities and conflict
in a workshop. Try o...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Practice active listening
Take everything as relevant and stay on your
toes.
Be yourself!
People w...
Maintaining
Momentum
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@katewkaplan @caitvsmith
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
● Distill insights into next steps as you go
● Revisit workshop goals; “What requires follow-up
di...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
● Create a Workshop Readout, distilling artifacts and
actionable insights, not just summaries
● Sc...
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
Your Toolbox: Workshop Readout
Sample
Table of
Contents
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
@caitvsmith@katewkaplan
!
Thank
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Leading Workshops With Cross-Functional Teams—Kate Kaplan & Cait Vlastakis Smith

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More and more, the responsibility of designing and facilitating stakeholder conversations—and creating the harmony necessary to pull them off—is falling to the UX role. Regardless of experience level or title, many UX professionals find themselves in the position of needing to bring stakeholders together to build consensus on UX plans, define product strategy, gather internal insights, and create buy-in for UX resources. This talk provides practical how-to advice for planning and pulling off effective collaborative discussions with the cross-functional stakeholders we need on board in order to most effectively do our jobs.
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Talk given by Kate Kaplan and Cait Vlastakis Smith in Raleigh, NC at UX Y'all

Published in: Design
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Leading Workshops With Cross-Functional Teams—Kate Kaplan & Cait Vlastakis Smith

  1. 1. Leading User-Centered Workshops Kate Kaplan Caitlin Vlastakis Smith with Cross-Functional Stakeholders
  2. 2. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  3. 3. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan fa·cil·i·ta·torfəˈsiləˌtādər/ n. a person or thing that makes an action or process easy or easier
  4. 4. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Essential ingredients of a good facilitator: Listening Bravery1 2
  5. 5. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Topics 1. Setting the Stage 2. Improvising and Guiding 3. Navigating Personalities 4. Maintaining Momentum
  6. 6. Setting the Stage @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  7. 7. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  8. 8. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Defining Workshops vs. Meetings Things will get discussed Input and consensus from diverse groups A greater sense of ownership Meetings Workshops Things will get done Discussions and project updates Awareness conversations
  9. 9. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Setting up Workshops for Success Where are we going? Group Purpose Group Culture How will we get there? Also called: Ground Rules
  10. 10. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Groups that establish group culture and ground rules together are more productive in terms of both amount and quality of ideas generated. Use constraints!
  11. 11. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan “How do I create a group culture that people will actually respect?” @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  12. 12. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  13. 13. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Creating Ground Rules ● Divide participants into groups around themes like Respect, Diversity, Collaboration, etc. ● Have each group create rules on flipchart paper and post it up in the room ● Ask participants if they can agree, and ask for edits/additions RESPECT Don’t speak over others. Check email on breaks. Hear out all ideas. Listen to others speaking.Be attentive .
  14. 14. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Making the Purpose of your Workshop Clear ● Why am I here? ● What do you want from me? ● What do we need to do? ● How are we going to do it?
  15. 15. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan “How do I make sure everyone is on board with how we’ll be spending our time?” @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  16. 16. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your building blocks: ● Goals: The high-level end result or outcome ● Questions: The information that needs to be gathered in order to reach the goal ● Processes: The activities the attendees will do Building a Purposeful Workshop @caitvsmith@katewkaplan See: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-workshop-agendas/
  17. 17. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Workshop Design Canvas See: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-workshop-agendas/
  18. 18. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Workshop Design Canvas See: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-workshop-agendas/
  19. 19. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Workshop Design Canvas See: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-workshop-agendas/
  20. 20. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Workshop Design Canvas Start here Share a working draft with stakeholders Distribute finalized version ahead of time to all participants See: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-workshop-agendas/
  21. 21. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Final Checklist: Setting the Stage Set the Tone Orient Participants Create a Safe Space Think ahead of time about materials and environment to create the right vibe Tell them who you are! Remind them of the group purpose Explain the schedule and breaks Provide ground rules Use a purposeful energizer to break down barriers
  22. 22. Improvise & Guide @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  23. 23. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Solutioning Guiding
  24. 24. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Mission Create alignment among different perspectives Promote Mutual Understanding Help Everyone Do Their Best Thinking Make sure everyone feels heard and valued How? How?
  25. 25. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  26. 26. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan How do I get everyone talking and participating?
  27. 27. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Getting People to Participate ● During introductions, include a starter question ● Encourage a “Yes, and…” mindset ● Small group activities, then sharebacks ● Ask open-ended questions that foster discussion and require multiple perspectives
  28. 28. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Break into teams of 3 and answer the following questions. Your Toolbox: Group Prompts Persona Activity What keeps her up at night? What frustrates her most in her day-to-day? What would make her job easier? (One answer per sticky note.)
  29. 29. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan How do I build alignment and keep everyone moving in the same direction?
  30. 30. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan At the end of the day, we’ll know we’re successful when: Your Toolbox: Staying on Topic ● Consistently refer back to workshop purpose ● Don’t be afraid to ask: ○ “Do we need to cover this today?” ○ “Does this topic align with workshop goals?” ● Parking lot it when needed!
  31. 31. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Mad Libs Complete the Problem Statement
  32. 32. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan ● During a post-up, find patterns in participant responses ● Categorize themes and call out discrepancies ○ Don’t do this on your own...ask the room for help! ● When useful, apply a voting technique Your Toolbox: Affinity Mapping PROMPT: What information is the most critical in order to do testing right? Account details Instructions Sample Amt. Repeatability
  33. 33. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Success Frameworks
  34. 34. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Final Checklist: Improvising & Guiding Be Flexible Be Real Be Brave Don’t be a slave to your agenda. Pivot and pause. Be rigorous about intent and purpose. Repeat back to the room what you hear; distill on the fly. Be corrected by the room; you’re not the expert! Embrace your inner Awkward Turtle! Confidence is admitting you don’t having all the answers.
  35. 35. Navigating Personalities @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  36. 36. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  37. 37. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan “How do I deal with the dominator / skeptic / hater in the room?” @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  38. 38. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Dealing with the DOMINATOR When this person: Apply these tools: Silences others with their mere presence (e.g., HIPPO) Relentlessly speaks over others Switch to silent brainstorming techniques, such as brainwriting Try “alone-then group” ideation or use a round-robin approach Repeats the same thing over and over again Use a parking lot; Use the (pre- communicated) schedule as justification for moving on
  39. 39. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Dealing with the SKEPTIC Challenges every point without valid basis When this person: Apply these tools: Doesn’t “see the point” of the activity Comes up with reasons why every idea won’t work Establish ground rules encouraging open-mindedness Check in with participants to make sure your purpose is clear Remind them of the “blue skies” nature of brainstorming
  40. 40. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Dealing with the DISENGAGED When this person: Apply these tools: Doesn’t actively participate in activities Checks phone or email or engages in other tasks Check for understanding; Call for a break or use an energizer Be clear and upfront and breaks and allow time for check-in’s Gives you blank looks and doesn’t contribute to conversation Engage them proactively in an activity such as writing on the whiteboard
  41. 41. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan There’s no magic bullet for dealing with difficult personalities and conflict in a workshop. Try out different facilitation techniques to figure out what works for you. Practice!
  42. 42. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Practice active listening Take everything as relevant and stay on your toes. Be yourself! People will model behavior after you. As you Navigate Personalities, Always...
  43. 43. Maintaining Momentum @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  44. 44. @katewkaplan @caitvsmith
  45. 45. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan ● Distill insights into next steps as you go ● Revisit workshop goals; “What requires follow-up discussion?” ● Recap action items and assign ownership ● Revisit the parking lot Your Toolbox: Maintaining Momentum During the Workshop
  46. 46. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan ● Create a Workshop Readout, distilling artifacts and actionable insights, not just summaries ● Schedule follow-up planning meetings with owners ● Send a participant survey ● Say thank you! Your Toolbox: Maintaining Momentum After the Workshop
  47. 47. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan Your Toolbox: Workshop Readout Sample Table of Contents
  48. 48. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan
  49. 49. @caitvsmith@katewkaplan ! Thank

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