Back to Guides

How to understand problems and gain insights with Workshop Tactics

Workshops that help you…

You’ve set your product team’s goals and come up with a plan of action, but do you know what challenges you face on your path to success? 

Here is a range of proven workshop exercises and tactics that can help you understand who your users/audience/customers are and what they need, what your team’s skill set should look like and how to unpack problems and identify pesky bottlenecks that could slow your progress and jeopardise your project.

Of course you can’t predict everything that might stand in your way, but the processes of trying to can be illuminating… take a look at these exploratory workshop techniques to help you better understand your mission. Just choose the right one for your team and follow the link for step-by-step instructions.

Workshops that help you promote great team ties

Roles & Responsibilities workshop

This Roles and responsibilities workshop technique is a great way to learn about each other, define who is responsible for what and streamline your processes. 

You’ll come out the end with a clear idea of what everyone does, what to talk to them about and – most importantly – what decisions each person is responsible for making. This is crucial for teams that want to move quickly. It’s an hour invested into preventing duplicate work, and that sounds like a pretty fair deal.

Skills Market workshop

Skills market workshop is a fantastic opportunity to motivate your team by showing them how this project can help them learn, grow and achieve their ambitions. 

You’ll identify the existing skill set that each member brings to the table – even those hidden skills that you might never otherwise discuss. Then, dive into the areas where people are looking to learn more. 

This session is a catalyst for great things: mentorship, development opportunities and cross-pollination of skills and knowledge. It helps your team, but it also brings an added dimension to the whole project, and can help you spot any skills gaps that need to be filled, too.

Workshops that help you understand your stakeholders and users

Stakeholder Map Workshop

Getting to know your stakeholders helps you pitch items that require a decision to the right people in the most effective way. By carefully identifying everyone who can make a decision (or be affected by it) with a Stakeholder Map you can streamline processes.

This workshop helps you weigh up the power and interest of every possible stakeholder, giving you a clear picture of the expectations you need to meet and how to communicate with everyone involved in your project.

Empathy Map Workshop

To design the perfect solution – you know, the one that makes your customer think you just get it – you must get inside the head of the person who will be using it. The Empathy Map workshop guides you through the process of working out what your customer might say, think, feel and do. What are they trying to accomplish, and what’s making it so difficult? What do they stand to gain from achieving this goal?

One hour, one chart and your team – that’s all you need to answer those questions.

Prototype Persona Workshop

After empathising with your audience, you can use a Prototype persona workshop to predict who will use your product – what they look like, what drives their behaviours and what would solve their problems. 

You revisit them to add more detail as you learn, and even name them – so you can keep coming back to the output of this session to keep you on track. 

Workshops that help you identify problems and overcome challenges

Hopes and Fears Workshop

Kicking off a new project is an exciting time, and with a diverse team of people you will experience a wide range of expectations. 

Hopes and fears workshop is an effective tool for identifying what your team is thinking so that you can decide how to proceed in a way that – ideally – meets everyone’s hopes and allows them to overcome or avoid the things they are most worried about.

Assumption Collecting Workshop

It’s not just your team’s hopes and fears about a project that might surprise you; everyone will have their own unique assumptions. Some of these will be spot on, while others will be proven to be baseless as you progress.

Either way, getting them all out in the open with an Assumption collecting workshop can help you ensure your team understands each other, and allows you to identify all kinds of risks that you can then plan for. From customers and competition to risks and user behaviour, you’ll guide your stakeholders on a whistle-stop tour through their assumptions, giving you the chance to explore them in full before they are proven or disproven in real time.

Journey Map Workshop

Identify opportunities to turn your users’ frustration to delight in a Journey map workshop. This approach uses a visual journey of the process of discovering and using your product, to help you identify the bits of that journey that make it all worthwhile – and the bits that suck.

Observe your users using your product or service prior to this workshop in order to make the most of it.

Service Map Workshop

This workshop gets your team to produce a Service map that shows the customer-facing side of your product, as well as the background activity that makes it all possible. 

By viewing these elements together, you’ll spot opportunities to streamline your processes and get the bigger picture on what’s working in your favour and what could be a little less… clunky. It’s a great way to get to the bottom of any unidentified bottlenecks, too.

Five Whys Workshop

Channel your inner four-year-old with a Five whys workshop. Repeatedly asking ‘Why’ is a surprisingly effective way to get to the root cause of a problem you’re facing. It’s a surefire way to prevent your team from inadvertently slapping a bandaid on something that requires deeper attention – and it’s pretty fun, too. 

Get your team to try it after an unexpected event or challenge to see the real power of what is – let’s face it – a pretty petulant-sounding way to speak to each other.

Other workshop tools and techniques

Workshops like these are perfect for teams looking to streamline their processes and avoid getting bogged down in tasks that have no impact. To get the most out of them, take a look at our six tips for building an effective product team, and tactics for everything from idea generation to project evaluation.

Leave a Comment

Let us know what thoughts or questions you have about this guide so we can improve it.

If you leave us your email, we'll let you know if we update this guide based on your feedback.