Recently, I stumbled upon a question on the Session Lab forum that got me thinking. The question was, "Is anyone using Miro or Mural in face-to-face sessions?" The post asked about the potential advantages and downsides of using digital tools in in-person settings. As someone blending digital and traditional methods since 2012, I thought I'd share my experiences.
Whether you're a Stormz fanatic like me or just exploring digital tools, let's dive into how you can create unforgettable workshops by embracing the best of both worlds.
Low-Tech Isn't Going Anywhere
Back in 2018, I penned an article pouring my heart out about my love for low-tech tools and techniques. Guess what? It hasn’t wavered a bit! Even I, the Stormz founder, use low-tech in 99% of the in-person workshops I facilitate through iLow, my boutique facilitation agency.
Why, you ask? Because traditional tools shine in these scenarios:
- Authentic conversation & eye-to-eye connections: No brainer, right? Nothing replaces the spark of real human interaction.
- Rapid fire brainstorming: For most, scribbling ideas on a sticky note still trumps typing (though, who knows what the future holds).
- Inspiration in a deck: Card decks are my jam! Whether it's the Dixit cards or tailor-made ones, the tangible act of shuffling through a deck cannot be replicated digitally.
- Scribble and scrawl: Doodles for visual thinking? Yes, please! There’s a reason Stormz doesn’t have a doodle feature: most participants struggle to draw anything remotely recognizable on a screen.
- Hands-on building: Playing architect with Legos? A classic hands-on experience that doesn't get old.
- Prototyping: Low-fidelity prototyping, even for digital products, is much better with physical props.
- Serious games: Like the Product Box or my own Theseus, games are way more immersive when you can touch and feel the components.
So yes, low-tech, we're still head over heels for you.
Digital Takes You Further
When it comes to certain aspects of facilitation, digital tools like Stormz have a clear advantage:
- Efficient decision-making: Stormz simplifies facilitating a multicriteria evaluation, making the process quicker and data-driven.
- Real-time visualizations: Benefit from dynamic displays such as voting results or insight clouds that keep everyone on the same page.
- Large group facilitation: Stormz is well-suited for handling big groups, streamlining ideation, clustering, and convergence with dozens or hundreds of participants.
- Anonymity: By keeping identities hidden during ideation, selection, and commenting, Stormz helps minimize biases.
- Breakout sessions: Use Stormz to hone in on the best ideas and develop concepts in structured breakout sessions.
- Data export: Stormz takes the hassle out of exporting results, saving time and effort.
- Hybrid collaboration: Facilitate seamless interaction between in-person and remote participants with Stormz’s tools tailored for hybrid setups.
Learn more about what you can do with Stormz Workshop features here.
Get the Best of Both World: Marrying Low-Tech and High-Tech
Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both toolsets is essential. But the real magic lies in blending them effectively to create a better collaborative experience.
- In your design, mix and switch between high-tech and low-tech tools to maximize engagement. Evaluate the advantages and drawbacks; tailor choices to the context and schedule.
- Integrate physical elements into digital tools: For instance, take pictures of photos and upload them to the digital tool to create a collaborative moodboard.
- Digitally document insights gained through physical activities.
- Incorporate physical movement to break screen fatigue: Encourage participants to stand up, move around, or engage in a quick physical activity. This not only helps to alleviate the strain of staring at screens but also re-energizes the group.
- Be thoughtful about device numbers per participant. I tend to use one iPad for every three participants, though this can vary a lot depending on the context and constraints.
- Be thoughtful about the types of devices: Mobile phones, iPads, laptops, or large touch screens; each has its own pros and cons. Choose the device that best suits the needs of the session and the preferences of the participants.
- Using digital for a brief 10 minutes in a 4-hour session? If it’s the right tool, go for it. Of course, opt for simplicity in this case. Use their mobile phone and the guest invitation feature.
- Rapid brainstorming on the agenda? Rely on classic Post-it notes.
- Curb digital distractions by establishing clear guidelines for device use. Prioritize interpersonal communication; employ screens with intention and restraint.
The Future is Here: Say Hello to AI Participants
Since 2023, AI participants have entered the scene!
- Leverage AI smartly to challenge the status quo and spice things up.
- Short on time? Use the AI clustering feature to expedite the first round of idea clusterization.
Conclusion: a New Skill to Acquire
Being a pro facilitator means always looking for ways to enhance our workshops. Designing the perfect blend of digital and traditional tools is a fun challenge and can raise collaboration and collective intelligence to new levels.
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