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“The techniques that STEAMhouse guided us through enabled some great insights we had not imagined and ideas and solutions came about through a highly collaborative, interactive, and creative approach – all online! I highly recommend anyone to engage in the STEAM Challenge process. You won’t regret it!” Richard Haynes, Innovation Manager, Walsall Housing Group
Typically a STEAM Challenge is a one or two day workshop designed to enable organisations and individuals from across disciplines to tackle product, service, or social challenges, and test new ideas through a design-thinking innovation process. We guide participants through a series of creative activities that help them get under the skin of the problem they’re trying to solve, generate new ideas to tackle the problem and begin to test those ideas with lightweight prototypes. Think mapping, sketching, analysing, and making – not the easiest thing to replicate when we’re all stuck at home! Thankfully our latest STEAM Challenge provided the perfect opportunity to dive in and create our first series of virtual collaborative workshops.
Finding the right format
Platforms like G-Suite, Slack, Teams, and Zoom are changing the way we work together but they were designed to complement, rather than replicate face-to-face collaboration. When people come together they get things done, learn and have fun. Collaboration turbo-boosts complex problem solving and it enables a variety of practitioners to coordinate their work and share valuable learning – this kind of cross-pollination is essential to STEAM innovation and here’s how we made it happen 100% online:
Convening for creative collision
One advantage of having to keep participant numbers low is that you can be a little more selective about the voices required in the ‘room’ to make it a meaningful exercise. Now more than ever, we’re all a bit exhausted with screen-time, so aim to put people’s talents, time and energy to their best use. At STEAMhouse, a diversity of perspectives is crucial to creative problem solving, but remember you’re collaborating, not facilitating a discussion forum, so try to design a bit of creative collision into your activities, this can often be a really powerful way to generate new ideas.
Getting the activities right
Each of our 2-hr sessions followed a similar structure – we started light and gradually built to more challenging, collaborative work as we progressed.
Ice-breakers are always a great way to kick-off any workshop (as long as they’re designed well), we used ours as an opportunity to iron out any tech issues and remind participants of how to use the Miro tools, in a fun way. My favourite was ‘Superhero Hellos’ – we asked participants to draw their superhero alter-ego to introduce themselves and describe the skills and expertise they’re bringing to the workshop – it was perfect no-pressure fun because everyone’s bad at drawing in Miro!
We worked on no more than 4 exercises per session, with the 3rd being where we spent most time as a group, this left the final exercise for reflection and ‘cool-down’. Every workshop is different and you’ll design your activities to suit but we learned a few things that might be helpful to you for your first virtual workshop:
Start your own STEAM Challenge!
If you or your organisation have a critical business or social challenge that you’d like to tackle fast with the support of STEAMhouse, get in touch to find out how we can support.