Nyord vs. Workshop

The benefits and downsides of workshops. And how Nyord is different.

October 1, 2023
5 min read

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In its original meaning, "workshop" was the place where manual labor was performed. Today, and among knowledge workers, the workshop is more of an educational seminar or meeting focused on interaction and information exchange.

We want to shed some light on how much "work" is really in "workshop", its advantages and disadvantages, and how Nyord goes beyond traditional workshop methods. Let's dive in.

The characteristics of a workshop

Workshops are designed to address challenges or issues where more than a handful of people need to be heard. They usually follow a method, with a starting point, a defined structure and formats to guide the process, and a desired outcome in mind.

A skilled facilitator keeps everyone on track, maintains a high level of attention, and guides the workshop without interfering too much with the content.

By design, workshops are scheduled for specific dates and times, making them synchronous in nature. While face-to-face meetings are considered the optimal setting for workshops, hybrid and virtual versions are the new normal for remote workers.

Effective facilitation requires the ability to interact with each participant, which sets an ideal participant limit of 10-15 for in-person events. Virtual sessions can accommodate larger groups, but this also places greater demands on the facilitator's skills.

The benefits of workshops

We are inherently social creatures. Group gatherings tap into our core human nature, dating back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors and beyond. These gatherings are all about deep and intense communication. It's not just about transmitting information; it involves gestures, postures, sounds, facial expressions, emotions, and the unspoken messages "between the lines."

And hey, workshops do more than that! They create a sense of belonging and rootedness. People connect, sharing awesome stories, juicy gossip, celebrating victories, and getting inside each other's heads. It's about team identity, reaffirming why they do what they do. Yes, sometimes it might feel like a circus or a flashy showbiz event or a heated debate about who's got the power and influence. But hey, that's just how social dynamics work, right?

However, let's not overlook the fact that workshops are designed to engage in cognitive work. They start with a common problem, everyone shares their thoughts, and they try to come up with solutions or conclusions for what to do next. But do we really make the best use of our precious team time with workshops? Personally, we think when you have a big group (more than 15 people), workshops become more of a  social event than an effective problem-solving session.

And you know what? That's perfectly fine! Instead, why not use that time together to share inspiring stories or celebrate noteworthy achievements? In other words, let's say yes to offsite gatherings and prioritize genuine human connection, rather than solely focusing on in-person workshops.

The downsides of workshops

Where there is light, there is also darkness. In particular when it comes to the effectiveness of the “work” during a workshop. Let’s delve into it.

Workshops take up a lot of time.

Often scheduled for hours, if not full days or even multiple days, it becomes challenging to maintain concentration, listen attentively, process information, and contribute insightful arguments for such extended periods. We've all experienced that moment when our minds drift off, yearning for the solace of our desks where we can engage in quiet, focused work. Unfortunately, that option isn't available during workshops.

Workshops are about people, not about ideas.

The ideal workshop setup aims for diversity, encompassing loud and extroverted voices, quiet and introverted individuals, and those in between. However, it's often the louder voices that dominate the conversation, transforming what was meant to be an equal exchange into a one-sided lecture. Volume does not equate to intelligence.

Furthermore, the presence of hierarchical structures in the room undermines the equality of ideas. The argument put forth by the CEO or team leader carries greater weight, even if it happens to be a flawed idea.

Even the facilitator, despite her best intentions, cannot escape her own "expert bias." During a meeting, it is often necessary to summarize, conclude, or guide the conversation in order to keep it moving forward and produce results. In doing so, she adds her personal perspective on what is worth keeping and what can be left out.

The number of participants is limited.

Facilitation is a juggling act. The facilitator's got to guide everyone through the process, play referee to ensure fairness between the loud and quiet voices, keep people focused on the task at hand, and somehow conjure up tangible outcomes. It's a lot to handle. Either you are that person, or you need to hire one.

Think for a moment about a conversation among people about a pressing issue that will move your organization forward. How many people are in this imaginary room? My guess is less than 10. The same goes for the workshop. To make it work, you are actually limited in the number of participants. Unfortunately, the limit in participants also leads to a limit in creativity, good ideas, and representation.

Documenting and sharing results is hard.

Similar to surveys, workshops yield copious amounts of data on sticky notes, flip charts, or digital platforms like Miro boards. These records can be shared after everyone has departed. However, it falls upon someone to make sense of it all—connecting the dots, filling in the gaps, and transforming the raw data into actionable insights. This post-processing stage involves reduction, simplification, interpretation, and summarization while also taking into account existing power dynamics and influence of decision-makers. So, the final action plan may end up miles away from the ideas initially discussed. I mean, how many times have you looked back at a workshop and wondered what the heck came out of it?

Lastly, workshops are pricey endeavors.

Think about the hours spent prepping, attending, and following up. Just calculate it. That's valuable time that could've been used for other activities.  Additionally, there's the expense of hiring a facilitator or covering the costs of travel, meals, and accommodation for physical events.  

How Nyord is different

Similarities to workshops and their facilitation: We're all about problem-solving, idea generation, and decision-making among teams. Interaction and building upon each other's thoughts are at the core of what we do. Nyord has this magical ability to guide conversations and create a sense of belonging.

Whenever, wherever works for you.

What we do better: First and foremost, Nyord is software - a virtual space that transcends the limitations of location and time. You don't have to be constrained by scheduled meetings. Instead, you can contribute when you're feeling creative and focused, whenever inspiration strikes. Nyord ensures swift progress from thought to action, keeping tabs on every dot along the way.

Let's make it about ideas, not people.

When it comes to engagement, Nyord shifts the focus to ideas, not just people. You have the option to remain anonymous, ensuring that the platform fosters constructive proposals rather than descending into chaotic madness. We've designed Nyord to minimize the demands placed on facilitators. Our goal is to empower everyone to run challenges without the need for constant herding. With Nyord, you'll find templates, guidance, and a well-structured process to support you every step of the way.

Involve everyone, literally.

But perhaps one of our greatest strengths is our unwavering commitment to involvement and inclusion. We genuinely mean it when we say that we want everyone who deserves a voice to be heard, whether it's a team of 10, 100, or even 1000 people. Nyord is all about breaking down barriers and ensuring that diverse perspectives are valued.

Now, let's be clear: Nyord is not a substitute for a well-organized, lively offsite gathering. However, what you can do is take what you've learned through running challenges on Nyord and bring those insights to your get-togethers. Combine the factual aspects of Nyord with the social interaction of your meetings. We have some exciting ideas to share with you on how to bridge these two worlds.

Curious to witness Nyord in action?

Don't hesitate - sign up now for free and experience the transformative power of our platform firsthand.

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