The second of my workshops


My first ever two online workshops turned out to be on the same day. The first was number one in a series of three workshops for the North East Initiative on Business Ethics around designing a series of tools for companies to help ‘prove’ their ethical position. I have blogged about this one already.

The second was something quite different. Ever since the start of the pandemic I had been wanting to do something to help. I had offered my services free of charges to several organisations and groups but with little response. Like many of us during this time, I have realised that my skills are useful but generic and more about thought than action. People needed boots on the ground rather than heads in the clouds.

Anyway, all the world is a stage and this is the part that I have ended up playing.

My friends Adam and David from Consult and Design had set up a weekly open meeting with the Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE) in a similar vein, to see how they could bring people together who may be able to offer assistance. During this meeting it occurred to me that whilst COVID-19 is a disaster for businesses and organisations, so is getting back to work. 

A business continuity plan is invoked when something immediate happens to disrupt a business. At first, being allowed to go back would seem to be the reverse of this but in this case each business and organisation was being asked to go back to something very different. The opportunity to go back therefore, required the business continuity plan in just the same way as when the virus hit. I started a small document, a Business Come Back Plan to help people to think through the process.

This is how I ended up delivering a 90 minute workshop for VONNE and its members.

The workshop went reasonably well. I had a lot of content to cover and thought I would be struggling for time as I had expected a lot of interaction with the audience. I find this is very hard in an online setting and questions were very limited. In the end it turned out to be more of a presentation than the interactive session I had hoped for and I got through what I wanted to say with half an hour to spare. 

I used this time to speak to each of the participants, asking them to tell us their own experiences and share their success and learning opportunities with their colleagues. This is the kind of engagement I was looking for all along and, to me, was the best part of the event.

Online workshops are not the same as physical ones. When it comes to my next one, in a few weeks time, I need to think carefully about the two I have done and apply the learning I have taken away from them.

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