The cult of the giant post-it note

I do love a good workshop.  Don’t you?  A well-run session is a thing of beauty.  Rigorously briefed and researched, thoroughly planned by slick professionals, run like clockwork (or should that be ‘like a quartz’ which is cheaper and more accurate?)  I can almost smell the warm pain au chocolat and the posh coffee as I write.

They seem to be happening more often these days and I’m getting a little anxious about that (who me?  Anxious? Surely not).  Because, much as I enjoy the early morning patter, regular chat-breaks and fine lunch options, I suspect the workshop culture betrays an absence of proper thinking elsewhere.

There’s a growing sense that bashing out a strategic plan for a brand is something you do in a one-day off-site session, rather than a more thoughtful process of hypothesis, research, refinement and crafting.

This is itself symptomatic of a broader drift towards speedy solutions at the expense of quality.  There is an explanation I sometimes hear – we’re moving towards a culture where we bash ideas out quickly then apply ‘test and learn’ principles.   So we get it out there and refine it based on real world learning.  This would be valid, but it’s not what I’m seeing.  There’s no test and learn here.  there’s just bashing stuff out.

It’s also true that some businesses have always had a culture of getting people together to ‘workshop’ an idea.  I’m a big fan of this.  It promotes shared ownership and gives the wider team regular opportunities to input in a good, open forum.  if they’re well-run, they also foster a culture of open-ness and collaboration.

But the workshops I’m seeing more and more seem to be different – a kind of one-off event billed as almost an alternative to regular or continuous thinking. And done with remarkably little up-front preparation.

On the other hand, aren’t those giant post-its brilliant?