Who you involve in the workshop will also help determine the agenda and flow for the day - or week - depending on how long your workshop takes. The participants you recruit can lead to interesting opportunities.
Who to involve
Keep in mind that people don't typically have a lot of extra time so make the purpose of the workshop clear to them. The right people in the room can make your workshop come to life.
Considerations of who to invite:
Is this an internal or external workshop? Are you inviting people from within the company or from the outside community?
Are you looking to make high-level decisions? In this case, you probably need to invite stakeholders.
Are you looking to better understand a certain demographic or community? In that case, you will likely be inviting people you don't know.
Do you want to consider all sides of the problem? Consider inviting someone from the legal team, tech team, and HR. People in both junior and senior positions will bring different perspectives.
Do you want to get people thinking differently? Invite "unlikely suspects" and people who are typically not involved in this process or creative pursuits.
Do you want to understand your audience better? Invite actual users of your product or service to ideate with you.
Stakeholders are key decision makers, and their status within a business often means they have busy schedules. Your challenge will also be finding a time when everyone you'd like to participate is available. If you're creating a series of workshops, consider which one(s) are most valuable for stakeholders. For those not familiar with the process, you will need to engage their full and undivided attention.
Design thinking workshops thrive on active participation. Remind participants that there are no phones or computers permitted during the workshop. They are unplugging and going old school! That means pens, markers, and sticky notes!
The process of design thinking involves thinking differently. The same can apply the people you include in a workshop. Consider how you can create a multi-disciplinary environment with participants who bring a variety of expertise, come from different backgrounds, or work in different departments. Remember, you're trying to remove assumptions in the design process, so including voices from the desired target audience can be highly beneficial – and insightful!
As long as you have space and materials, there is no limit to how workshops can be framed. When you're starting out, try working with 4-6 participants. From there, you can increase it to dozens or more. Remember, the more participants involved, the more likely you'll need volunteers to help you out, especially with preparing the room for upcoming exercises and activities. It always helps to have an extra hand. 👋
Who to include in your workshop depends on the workshop goals.
Workshops should not be hierarchical. Everyone should be equally engaged in the workshop activities and in working towards solving a common problem.
Include people who are not designers in the process for a richer outcome. This could involve members of different teams or the community. When appropriate, consider including stakeholders and key decision makers.