Small firms can find it hard to match the energy, world class talent and diversity that make larger companies so competitive. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Start a business with less than 10 employees and you’ll soon discover how quickly your co-workers can seem dull. No matter how much you like them, walking into a small office with just the 6 of you feels as eerily quiet as church on a Tuesday morning.
Smallness can eventually work against you, as talent migrates out to rival firms with a mailroom bigger than your entire office and opportunities pass you by because you lack the scale and diversity needed to solve complex problems.
Realizing that we were not the only consultancy facing this challenge, we launched Kongo: our opportunity to surround ourselves with some of the brightest independent professionals and start-ups in the media and creative industries.
We opened over 5,000 square feet of beautifully designed loft-space to a small group of world-class designers, researchers, writers, producers, motion graphics experts, innovators and foreign correspondents. Some of our colleagues include FireFish USA (research), Positron (experiential design engineers), A Different Engine (UX design), Messaging Lab (biotech), QuesttoNo (product design), SmartAssDesign and Machine (innovation and design)
Based in Dumbo, the heart of New York’s most vibrant start-up community, we now collectively enjoy the resources of larger Madison Avenue agencies, with none of the politics.
For many people, workshops are not unlike sex in the shower: in theory great, in practice not so much. We sat with Pam Hamilton, author of The Workshop Cookbook to find out how to make the most of the collective brain-power available at your next workshop.
1- Recruit for Diversity
Research shows that the more diverse a group is (in gender, culture, ethnicity or background), the better ideas the group creates. Different perspectives allow for more ideas and opinions to be shared, making the final ideas better.
2- Everyone doesn’t need to know everything
We suffer attention scarcity, and this is made worse when we overwhelm people with information that they only understand in a shallow way. Split your team into small groups of people to work together on tackling a different part or angle to the problem, giving them only the information relevant to that angle. That way you get higher quality of attention and focus, and greater depth to the solutions and ideas before they are widely shared with the other groups.
3- Make sure everyone is personally involved
It’s not enough to send them a “pre-read” or to walk them through a lengthy presentation at the start of your workshop. Make sure they actually DO something before coming in.
That way they are better prepared and motivated, ready to teach each other what they’ve learned and importantly, they’ve personally understood the issue, from their own perspective and not just in theory.
For more workshop wisdom, visit the Cookbook
Pam is one the world’s pre-eminent workshop experts, having designed and lead thousands of workshops all over the world about everything from laundry to diamonds.
She got her start as a junior insights manager at Unilever and went on to become MD of Research International’s Innovation Bureau and Head of Creative Development at ITV, before founding Paraffin.