The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to rapidly adopt virtual work environments, making it the new norm in the Digital Transformation process. Digital Collaboration Platforms have been pivotal in the current scenario and have forever changed the work environment to include Virtual Work and Digital Facilitation.
Digital Collaboration Platforms provide a combination of activities in one place, making meetings almost trouble-free. These platforms take leverage of tools to help perform activities, such as:
- Create agendas and conduct pre-engagement communication
- Documentation and note-taking
- File storage and documents sharing (videos, images)
- Administer surveys / polls
- Chat with facilitator-specific features (anonymize, voting, hide comments)
- Conduct assignments and exams
- Booking system and timer
- Post-engagement discussions and follow-up tasks
However, Digital Facilitation has its own set of challenges, principles, and methods that are to be managed for the future work environment to run smoothly. Digital Facilitation Methods vary from simple to very complex and there is an abundance of them. The following 3 methods are quite popular in facilitating asynchronous and synchronous Digital Collaboration:
- Double Diamond
- Open Space
- Sociocracy 3.0
Let us examine the 3 Digital Facilitation Methods more deeply.
It is a structured method to Digital Facilitation that is useful in problem solving and idea generation. The method tackles challenges in 4 key phases—Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. The Double Diamond method employs the divergent thinking first—to open up the participants to share as much as possible without limiting ideas. The method then utilizes convergent thinking to focus on narrowing down the problems, finding potential solutions to the problem, and implementing the most viable solution(s).
Potential solutions and ideas can be prioritized and filtered using Digital Collaboration Platforms’ features, i.e., polls, likes, or assigning scores. All project phases can be documented on the go, in a single Digital Facilitation workspace and the same workspace can be used to continue the delivery phase.
The Open Space Digital Facilitation method is designed for self-organization, inclusivity, and emergent agendas. The method focuses on finding important elements through discussions facilitated by Digital Collaboration Platforms in order to improve further. The Open Space method is governed by the “Law of Two Feet,” which states that if at any time you find yourself in a situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet and go somewhere else where you can.
In this method, a collaboration session starts without an agenda, but the process is designed to ensure that the issues that are most important to the people involved will surface and become part of the agenda. This is done by inviting participants to propose topics as chat comments utilizing Digital Facilitation Platforms. Other participants ‘like’ a comment (topic) to show their interest or prioritize by using voting or polling features. The facilitator then organizes the topics by likes or votes and decide how many topics will be covered in a given session. A loose agenda is then created and host of each topic is assigned. Booking feature of the Digital Facilitation Platforms can be utilized for choosing which topic participants will start with. A separate page within a Digital Facilitation Platform workspace can be dedicated to each topic, to document everything and add instructions, videos, or any other files. Video conferencing tool of the Platform can be used side-by-side.
This Digital Facilitation method goes a step further in problem-solving than other approaches. As the name suggest, Sociocracy 3.0 method puts everyone really behind an idea and necessitates consent of all the participants for it to work.
Interested in learning more about Sociocracy 3.0 and the other Digital Facilitation Methods and Digital Collaboration tools? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Digital Facilitation Methods here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
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In the wake of global pandemics when meeting face to face is not possible, it’s about facilitating workshops digitally, designing a formal agenda, and utilizing digital tools to ensure a productive virtual meeting. Digital Collaboration Platforms have been pivotal in the current scenario.
As a matter of fact, Digital Collaboration platforms have become a new norm and have forever transformed business work environment. Digital Facilitation tools are extensively used by facilitators, Change Management consultants, Organizational Development practitioners, and learning professionals as a way to collaborate on workshops, events, change initiatives, and learning programs.
Digital Workshop Facilitation can be categorized into the following 3 major types:
- Virtual Facilitation
In this type of Digital Facilitation, a group collaborates remotely in real time but from different locations. Common tools used are Zoom, GoToMeeting etc.
- Asynchronous Facilitation
In this facilitation method, a facilitator leads participants remotely at a different time and place. Common tools include Email, Slack etc.
- Face-to-Face Facilitation
In Face-to-Face facilitation, a facilitator interacts with a group of people in the same workshop space, in person. Digital tools can be used in such a setup instead of flip charts and sticky notes.
The new scenario brings forth new challenges in workshop facilitation that necessitate robust principles, methods, and tools for the future work environment to run smoothly. Understanding and adhering to the following best practices and principles in Digital Workshop Facilitation helps in attaining effective results just like face-to-face workshops:
- Specify well-defined guidelines and expectations.
- Form an assured environment to enable discourse.
- Ensure effective interaction before, during, and after a workshop.
- Ensure all voices are heard.
- Document the conversations.
- Alter the moderation approach based on the participants’ level of understanding.
- Seek comments and iterate.
Let us delve a little deeper into some of the principles:
1. Specify well-defined guidelines and expectations.
The remote nature of digital workshops limits the element of reacting to audience’s lack of attention. This warrants clear instructions regarding ground rules, both in writing and orally to compensate for this disadvantage. Participants need to use precise language in asking questions and answering them.
Instructions on technology and tools usage should be reiterated from time to time.
2. Form an assured environment to enable discourse.
Trusting participants in a virtual setting is difficult if you do not know them. It is the digital facilitator’s job to create conversation security in different ways. Spending time on icebreakers or other pre-engagement activities may ease the discomfort. Providing quick and positive feedback to those who actively contribute encourages shy participants and creates a positive environment. Informing the participants on how meetings are being documented and information on who has access to this documentation can reassure participants.
3. Ensure effective interaction before, during, and after a workshop.
Digital Facilitation platform can be used ahead of a meeting to help participants familiarize with each other, disseminate the agenda, initiate discussions, or obtain helpful information from the participants, such as questions, skill levels, ideas, etc. Digital Collaboration Platform should be the center of post-workshop activities, e.g., sharing documents, closing agendas, answering additional queries, and extended discussions.
4. Ensure all voices are heard.
Digital Workshop tools can facilitate participation of people who in a traditional workshop setup will not be able to participate due to dominance by a few individuals.
Interested in learning more about the Digital Workshop Facilitation principles, methods, and tools? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Virtual Work Digital Facilitation (Primer) here on the Flevy documents marketplace.