An introvert’s guide to a digital planning workshop.

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I was asked a career question the other day:  

‘As a digital planner (or strategist), do I aspire to facilitate workshops?’

As an eternal introvert, this was a difficult question for me to answer. I see the benefit of workshops in facilitating discussion and encouraging key stakeholders who rarely get together to make decisions, but I wonder if they’re not the only way.

Introversion or shyness?

I’ve always considered myself an introvert. Before I began public speaking the mere idea of speaking in front of more than two people would make me blush.  But is that just shyness?

“…introversion is about how you respond to stimulation.  Extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, where as introverts feel at their most alive and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments.”

Since watching Susan Cain’s TED Talk The Power of Introverts,  I realised that my seemingly shy personality is actually a result of how my brain naturally works.

‘Talk-to-think’ versus ‘Think-to-talk’

I much prefer to think things through (a lot) before I give my opinion or perspective on an issue. I’ve always considered this to be an affliction of my personality. I’d  listen in awe to my colleagues publicly making decisions and giving opinions on the fly. 

I’ve realised that my colleagues ‘talk-to-think’ –  they think aloud and use conversation to sound out ideas, attributes that are fabulous in a workshop setting.  I’m more inclined to ‘think-to-talk’ – I like to take the time to consider all the attributes of a problem before offering my opinion as I feel I get better results.

“Groups famously follow the opinions of the most dominant or charismatic person in the room, even through there’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

Listening to Susan’s talk I realised if this is my thinking style, then there’s a high likelihood that some of our workshop attendees also think in the same way.  We could potentially be losing out on some incredibly creative ideas because the approach isn’t conducive to their thinking process.

Everyone thinks differently

Considering all thinking styles within a group is key to getting the best outcome in digital planning. The reason workshops are so darn useful in digital planning and strategy, is their ability to nail down difficult-to-schedule stakeholders in a room when time is a scarcity. But are we missing out on some of the most insightful voices in the room because they don’t have the quiet they need to properly consider the issue?  What if that same time was scheduled to complete an activity individually – giving participants much needed time and space for deep thought?

“The key to maximising our talents is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.”

Like Susan, I’m not saying that collaboration doesn’t have it’s place – of course it does.  But I think our role as digital planners is to make sure that the right people are given the time they need to engage in deep thought to make sure that the digital experiences we design are the best they possibly can be.


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