What Is A Workshop? And Why Do I Need One?

What is a Workshop Episode Summary

I’m thinking Spring today, I don’t know about you guys. It’s sunny and all the snow is melting and I’m here for it. I’m also here for this next episode of AAI which is all about workshops. What is a workshop? How can they help us deduce the product that will work for you? We get a lot more answers when we spend time digging and a workshop gives us the space to do that.

From activities through to questions, we truly want you to think about your business and where you want it to go. How will this product fit into your business, how will you go-to-market with it? If these are questions you’re asking, going through a workshop may be beneficial to you.

As always, listen in, and fill out the form here to ask questions or Schedule a Workshop!

Full Transcript

Erin Srebinski: [00:00:16] At City Innovation Labs, we run a bunch of workshops to help people figure out what they’re doing, what they need to build, if they’re even ready for custom software. Josh, what exactly does a workshop entail and why would anyone want to do this?

Josh Barker: [00:00:47] Yes. Great questions. So a workshop really helps our clients take a step back and really analyze something before proceeding forward with the next steps of software engineering or prototyping or whatever it is. It allows us to really take focus on what we’re trying to accomplish.

It brings crystallization to the path we’re headed towards. Oftentimes it leads to pivoting within that conversation in terms of strategy, go to market strategy, how they’re about to do something.  It’s crucially important because it is that compass moment where you take out your compass and you go, which direction am I headed? And so if you don’t have that compass moment, you could actually be going in the complete wrong direction.  That’s really what we want to help avoid . Go in the right direction.

So it’s your GPS, if you’re a younger generation that’s like, what the heck is a compass? Oftentimes someone will come to us and say, this is what we’re trying to accomplish.

No, one’s coming to us saying we want a workshop, right. Because that’s not the result of what people want.

Erin Srebinski: [00:01:49] No, they’re not looking for that.

Josh Barker: [00:01:51] They’re not looking for a  workshop, but we offer  that compass GPS. Right?  They’ll say, here’s what we want to do, here’s what we want to build, here’s what we’re trying to achieve. And so then it’s our jobs, in that pre consulting, pre-workshop moment, to help them understand. Going back to our Product Validation Funnel, helping them understand where they’re at in the Product Validation Funnel and why.  That’s where we’ll spend time pre consulting and pre-workshop, helping them understand where they’re at.

We’ll ask a series of questions of how have you validated this? What experiments have you run? And sometimes they’ll say, I don’t even know what an experiment is and we can help educate them on assumptions and our process. Then once we get a standard of where is that company and the product validation funnel.

The nice thing is with our workshops we definitely are believers in meeting them where they’re at to get you where you need to go. So for us, we definitely don’t take a one size fits all.

It is completely custom. And so what that looks like is we actually have hundreds of exercises.  I always like to use the analogy of, we go to a pantry and we take out the ones that make the most sense and how we know which ones make the most sense is based on a lot of our pre-workshop calls and discussions. And so understanding where they’re at in the funnel, and then moving forward with that and saying, okay, out of our workshop pantry, we’re going to pull out these exercises and assemble it. And so that’s how usually that workshop is done.

Erin Srebinski: [00:03:20] Okay. When you’re going through and picking out some of those exercises, what does that look like?  What do those entail or are we doing these long winded exercises? Are they bite sized chunks that we’re trying to figure out information? What does that process look like?

Josh Barker: [00:03:32] Yeah, very good question. So it really depends again, based on where they’re at in the funnel.

If we’ve determined you’re in that top of funnel, Minimum Viable Tests, that’s often early, a lot of assumptions are made. We’ll take that workshop number one to educate on the lean startup, you know, build, measure, learn cycle of how do you create experiments, which we call the Minimum Viable Tests.

How do you create these minimum viable tests? How do you do that? A lot of it is assumption based. We’ll map out all the assumptions made. And then once we do that, we’ll actually go take inventory and  go through a prioritization exercise to say there are key assumptions.

You’ll find key assumptions. A lot of assumptions are hinged on a primary assumption. So if you can validate a primary assumption, it will either validate all of those around it, or it’ll actually give merit to well then now let’s go validate all these other assumptions . If you can’t validate this assumption, none of the other assumptions matter.  Oftentimes there’s actually not that many,  usually one to five  primary assumptions.

And then what we’ll do in that workshop is we’ll really focus on how can you create a minimum viable test or an experiment to validate or invalidate quickly these key assumptions? Without building anything. We’ve talked about  creating a test and  what that might look like of, if it’s a B to C app  understanding your target market.

That is an assumption and we can send out an ad set on Facebook to measure the click-through rate. To measure the engagement before you actually go build the things. Should you? You’re measuring quantitatively . That is the first part. If they were in the Minimum Viable Test part of the funnel. That’s what it would look like.

 If they’re further down and they’re the Minimum Viable Product, which would state that a lot of the assumptions have been validated that we should build this. In that case, it looks far different.  How that looks of building a Minimum Viable Product is we’ll actually sit down and we’ll do design thinking exercises, like persona creation, persona mapping. We’ll do journey mapping.

We’ll do story mapping. We just went through a pre-workshop and a workshop this last week. We realize they’ve really crystallized their vision statement. They’ve got a clear vision. The strategy is there.  It’s an existing business. They have personas created, but the gaps that we saw are  in the tactical side of let’s go ahead and create the journeys, create the story map and narrow down the focus of what we need to build in our MVP.

So that’s what we do in that MVP stage. As we do an inventory, we’ll do that no matter which stage, on what you currently have.  A lot of times you’ll have data, you’ll have assumptions, you’ll have validations, validated assumptions and we’ll do that analysis and figure out which ones out of the pantry to select.

 Then in that last stage, if you’re an MMP stage, really what that means is you validated all your assumptions, you actually have a prototype. A very small number of people actually say, ‘I’ve got a prototype I’ve been validated in the market.”

I just need to go and build this thing. Right.  What we do down here is we really help narrow what does MMP mean?  A lot of people get confused and say, “I want to load up all of this functionality.”  That’s where we kind of help them whittle it way down and scale down and have roadmapping conversations to say, let’s talk and focus on go to market strategy. How do you step into existing traffic? How can you release this? What are some partnerships that might be good to go to market?  It’s a lot of go to market conversations and how can you get to the market quickly? So you can kind of feel all of those stages are very different in what the workshop might look like.

And they’re very different in exercises because if we’re doing an inventory combined with where you are in the funnel, every single workshop we’ve ever done has been different based on those couple of facts.

Erin Srebinski: [00:07:41] That makes sense. Every business is a little bit different. They should be relatively custom and differentiated in what you guys go through. I remember talking to a client and they said, I had no idea what lean startup was. It totally changed my entire mind about  what my business should be like, was completely wrong.

It’s great to hear that because then he’s like, I have to go back to the drawing board. There’s so much stuff to consider. You take this outside approach of  poking holes and you do all these assumptions, but When you go through this workshop, let’s say you’re at the beginning of the stage and you go through all these assumptions. Do they have to go through the next workshop? What happens next? Do they go out and test and come back and say, this is what we learned? How does that usually play out?

Josh Barker: [00:08:18] It depends on where they’re at in the funnel. So if they’re at the top of the funnel, if we’re talking about MVT, we’ve poked holes in the assumptions, like you said, we’ve talked about those, prioritized those, created some experiments. Then what we do is we offer  them, if they so desire, a coaching engagement.  We  offer on ongoing coaching anywhere from four times a month down to one time a month.

We use that as like a meeting and a touchpoint is to help. Guide them in that experiment creation process. That’s one way we do it in that top of the funnel.  Another couple of ways we do it in the top of the funnel is oftentimes we’ll say here’s an experiment that needs to be run.

They’re often very inexpensive, but sometimes do require engineering or guidance. So in the workshop, we’ll help think of things like what open source tools can you use to quickly  glue together an experiment. Sometimes we’re able to actually put together the experiment for them.

To say, here are all the different pieces. Maybe it’s a WordPress website mixed with a explainer video. We have a rolodex of a bunch of people that we work with. Obviously we don’t make videos, but we have people that make explainer videos. So we can actually help refer to how do you put this experiment together?

That way we can kind of hand that off and we can contribute to some pieces as well  to help create those experiments. For the customer, we help  act as that guide as they’re putting together the experiments and moving forward.

The next part is the MVP. So once we’ve assembled the MVP,  what does that look like? We understand what needs to be built.  We’re going through design thinking exercises, like journey mapping and story mapping. It’s a natural progression of, “Hey, we can actually build a prototype for you.”

 Let’s also talk about how you can pilot this. Maybe even pre-sell it. A lot of the conversation is on pre-sales if you’re business to business, especially.  So if we can do that , oftentimes we’ll go and create a prototype. The neat thing we’ve seen as we assemble the prototype within a week or two plug it into a sales presentation and immediately go to a target market, get feedback, but not only get feedback, but get pre-sales. That’s been actually very successful in helping do that. So that’s one way we help out with the MVP stage and how we help out on the MMP stage obviously is now that we have a prototype, we can obviously do a lot of the development work on your behalf.

So we can kind of talk about we’ve got a prototype and it’s like, really clear what we’re trying to build and accomplish, and then we can kind of go into engineering.

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