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Running an Effective Team Workshop

Running an Effective Team Workshop

At FARFETCH, our vision as a Product Operations team is to grow an even stronger product management team, creating the conditions for our teams to strive and do great things together. We focus on our team members, including fostering a greater sense of ownership among them.

For example, how might we apply this in practice if these teams plan an activity on future thinking? In this article, we share what we've learned about structuring a team gathering that emphasises creative ideation, encouraging everyone to contribute with their voices, and collective decision-making.

An internal group approached our Product Ops team to help facilitate a team activity. Their goal? To develop a fun and engaging workshop to help the team ideate the future of loyalty at FARFETCH. Easy, right?

Starting Conditions for Workshops

Every successful workshop starts with a clear definition of its framework and context, finding answers to these questions:

  • What?
    Describe what the goal the target group is trying to achieve is. Be clear, objective, and bold. Don’t go in with a hidden agenda.

  • Who?
    Figure out who needs to be in the room. How many will attend? How many expected facilitators?

  • What are the outcomes?
    Clearly state what should be expected outcomes from the activity

  • Agenda
    A draft about what will be the expected agenda for this activity. What will be the context: an off-site? A team meeting? An outdoor activity?

  • Practicalities
    Think about the context of your workshop. Does the activity have a cost frame associated? Do you need office supplies, snacks, a room to be booked, or make room for lunch?

Only after you get all these answers can you truly dive into the multiple workshop techniques out there. Be smart when choosing them: don’t overcomplicate them. Most of the time, this pre-work will make it so much better.

Workshop Goals

For this specific workshop, we had two main goals: 

  1. Identify a set of aspirational goalsthat can be laid out during the upcoming years and 

  2. Develop a set of actionable goalsfor the present, within both resource and budget constraints, and yet could evolve throughout the current planning cycle.

So, what did we do?

We split the activity into two halves: starting with blue-sky, limitless dreaming (divergence) and then asking the team to focus on what might be achievable in the short-term (convergence). We chose that order not to constrain each participant’s imagination. We wanted to ensure we first explored all possible avenues.

Deciding on the Framework

As an umbrella, we found the "Now-How-Wow” method to be applicable to both halves: not only did we reuse the framework, but we could also lay out and compare all the generated ideas. This would help the team reach a common agreement. 

The matrix behind this framework considers two main axes: the innovation criteria and the difficulty/complexity. As a team, you can agree on what the wording should be. A good alternative combination could be feasibility/originality. It’s up to you.

With ideas represented as Post-Its in the diagram above, low-hanging fruit ideas, for example, might go in the NOW quadrant as they tend to be less innovative and easier to implement. In contrast, the big, innovative, complex ideas (Web 3.0, Metaverse…is that you?) might land on the HOW quadrant. WOW ideas are exactly as the onomatopoeia suggests: very innovative, simple ideas that trigger those "One more thing…” goosebumps. Wow, right? 

Applying the Framework to Our Activity

Addressing both main goals, we divided our activity into two parts: Part #1 should focus on the HOW quadrant, whereas Part #2 must focus on the NOW. You might be wondering, "But hey, what about the WOW? Isn’t it supposed to be a fun activity?” Well, yes, fellow reader! It is OK to ideate around the WOW as long as your group stays focused on the goal for each half.

Ok, so now what? We have one good-looking matrix, and we have Post-Its and Sharpies. What should we do with all the participants? Let’s jump into that.

Working as Subgroups

Depending on the size of your audience, you shouldconsider forming smaller groups of four (4) to five (5) participants; no fewer, no more. Also, consider multiple facilitators to ensure each group feels well-supported with attention. As our activity's time frame was quite tight, we needed to manage the pace adequately. 

The mechanics are the same for Part #1 and Part #2. The differences reside in the goals for each part. At the end of part #2, you can tally final votes. 

For each breakout group, ask your participants to:

  • First, individually come up with as many ideas as they can. There is no collaboration in this step, with one idea per Post-It. Remember: for part #1, go big and limitless. Part #2 focuses on ease of implementation and how to work with known constraints.

  • Once finished, present them to the group and ask them to listen carefully!

  • Then ask each participant to choose one of their own ideas and "steal" one from someone else in the group. This allows you to expand what was previously a smaller idea and explore unconsidered alleys.

  • Have the team work on these ideas individually, expanding on the concepts further.

  • Refrain from discarding all first-round ideas outright. Further below, you will see how we will manage them.

  • Present them back to the breakout group.

  • Together decide which ideas have the most opportunity to achieve the goal. Come up with one or two per group and refine them. Write them on a Post-It with a one-line description. Ask each group to select only one speaker. 

  • Present these back to the main group and, as a team, agree on the placement of each idea among the quadrants. Position them according to your chosen factors.

By the end of part #2, we encourage you to run a voting exercise where all team members cast their votes (each can award up to a maximum of three points) on the ideas they feel are most important for implementation. The resulting matrix will show whether the team agrees on the priorities, so you can talk through and manage any issues before moving forward. Reflect as a group on the results: discuss any significant discrepancies, and identify the main challenges and the most exciting parts.

Oh, and did we mention we had a parking lot? All the ideas that didn't make the first cut to focus on can be saved for a later discussion. If the team continues riding the dopamine wave that a workshop generates, revisit the parking lot!


By the end of this activity, the team hopefully has come to an agreement on what should be the next top priorities. All team members were hopefully onboarded with a common vision and triggered that dormant innovation spark. And the best of all? All team members had an opportunity for their voices and opinions to be heard, and everyone contributed to the decision-making process. Not too shabby for team empowerment, right?

In this activity, we discovered that timing is critical to keep energy levels high.

On the other hand, don’t underestimate the power that ice-breakers can have. Consider preparing one or two activities beforehand that help open team curiosity and energise the room For our team, and these preliminary exercises were very important as they were all meeting for the first time. Prepare a comfortable workshop space and think about providing plenty of time for breaks. Adjust the pace according to your team's response. 

Whether you are trying to get the team together after the Zoom doom we have been through, or getting together to ideate into the future, always remember the most important thing: as a team, you must think and act together. Cherish that moment: your workshop techniques will follow!

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By Gabriela Cobo
Gabriela Cobo
I'm a technologist born in Ecuador and living in London. I work at the intersection of technology, fashion, and innovation, and I'm currently part of the Open Innovation team at Farfetch. Over the years, I’ve had experience in a wide range of industries - consulting, health tech, adtech & media, and Luxury retail across the Ecuadorian, US, Spanish and British markets. Passionate about sustainability, gender equality, fostering innovation and uplifting Latin American voices in IT.
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