By Shari Walczak & Shane Ogilvie
IRL Dig Workshops
When we started The Garden five years ago, it was important to our value proposition that our promise of “real collaboration, not the lip service kind” be backed up with a tangible offering. That’s why we grounded our DIG~CULTIVATE~THRIVE process with three proprietary workshops specifically designed to get client and agency teams working closely together to apply imagination, creativity and action to real business challenges. Over the years, we have become well known for our unique approach and are increasingly sought out for these workshops.
Which is how we found ourselves, just six weeks ago, finalizing the details of a new engagement with a successful Canadian technology company and setting the date to kick off the process with our signature DIG WorkshopTM when, suddenly, things came to a crashing halt as the global COVID-19 pandemic arrived on our doorstep.
As the government imposed social distancing measures, tens of thousands of businesses including The Garden closed our physical workspaces and imposed a work from home policy for an indefinite period of time.
As everyone adjusted to this new reality, we realized we were up against a significant hurdle if we could not find a way to adapt our highly interactive, hands-on workshops to a world where face-to-face interactions could only happen virtually. As a company that thrives on Post-it® Notes, Sharpies, multi-coloured dots, and walls full of ideas and writing, we now had our own business problem to solve for.
In the first week of our WFH reality, we began to re-imagine our full-day interactive workshop for a 100% virtual environment. We started by scouring the globe for potential technology platforms that could serve as the foundation for our workshop pivot, but it became clear that no off-the-shelf software perfectly matched our needs. However, with some inspired creative thinking from our team, we combined two existing platforms, giving us the power of group video conferencing alongside an interactive, customizable workspace that would facilitate the fluid capture of individual ideas and inputs.
In mid-April, we came together with 16 people from both The Garden and our newest client group, to launch the beta version of our Digital DIG WorkshopTM. While there were a few little glitches, we succeeded in creating a highly collaborative and engaging environment that generated just as much candid discussion, idea generation, and information sharing as our more traditional format. It was amazing how quickly we were able to establish personal connections and a genuine rapport amongst a group of people who, for the most part, had never met in person.
And truth be told, it was a pretty damn fun day!
Recently, Harvard Business Review published an article about the importance of applying imagination inside organizations facing this global crisis: “We believe imagination — the capacity to create, evolve, and exploit mental models of things or situations that don’t yet exist — is the crucial factor in seizing and creating new opportunities, and finding new paths to growth”.
The constraints imposed upon us by the COVID 19 crisis pushed our team to imagine a whole new way of conducting business. And this exercise led to the creation of a new virtual platform for our workshops that gives The Garden the opportunity to grow our international footprint in a way we hadn’t realized was possible.
While for most businesses this pandemic has created anxiety and uncertainty, we experienced firsthand the power of creativity to overcome our own fears and limitations in this new reality. We used creative thinking to solve one of our own problems and we’d love nothing more than to help tackle one of yours.
If you are an organization that is looking to tap into the collective brainpower of your people and are interested in talking to us about designing and facilitating a custom virtual workshop for you, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to chat about how we can help you imagine new opportunities and uncover innovative paths to growth.