Here in the Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE) we love to play with new technology. With an increase in our own digital capability imminent, the centre has engaged with a start-up business, Stormz, to better enable our own digital facilitation. Stormz uses technology to design and facilitate digital collaborative workshops

Adopting digital facilitation needs to be planned right from the design phase. Not only do we need to understand the technical impact (because there are numerous networking-, wiring-, wifi- and iPad-related nuances), the ASE support team needs to be proficient with the application and we have to consider how our participants would feel about using the application. Is it right to use in this particular event? How will it add to our delivery? How will participants interact with it? These are all questions we have to ask to validate the use of any new tools.

Once we decided that it was indeed the right move to use Stormz at an event last week, we had a look at where in the event it could be used to add the most value. In looking through the design we identified two pieces of work where, by using the application, we could achieve many benefits, a couple of which are highlighted below:

Time saving
One of the work rounds we selected involved brain dumping ‘Key Questions’ whilst listening to a series of short presentations followed by a ratification of which questions were appropriate and which were out of scope.

By moving online and using iPads to input from the outset, we skipped steps (handwriting and sharing) and sped up the whole process as participants could see contributions in real time and brains could start working immediately based on the stimulus of seeing others’ input. Being able to see real time input was also amazingly helpful for facilitators!

Retained knowledge
In our analogue world it is easy to lose valuable input. Handwriting is disappointingly difficult to decipher and participants will often choose against sharing the thoughts they wrote in private. The creation of our ‘electronic postit notes’ means this is all captured and even if a portion is discounted, I believe the addition of thoughts serves to contribute to the creation and stimulation of divergent conversations.

In essence, the high-level event process didn’t change, but the mechanism we used to deliver it did. We had instant sharing and performed tasks in a fraction of the time. In the future I see that the ASE will use Stormz (and other applications) as standard and reverting to paper based modules will be an exception to the rule. It is exciting times for the online collaborative approach and I for one, will be watching it with hawk eyes to ensure we’re always at the forefront.

What is your experience of electronic tools? Do you revert back to postits, paper, hypertiles? If so, why do you think this is? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.