After reading tons of theory about problem finding, facilitating workshops and different UX strategies in general, I finally did it: My first workshop in the role as a facilitator.
Equipped with the Lightning Decision Jam booklet from AJ&Smart I felt quite confident to jump right into action. But as it often is, theory is the one thing, practise the other, so here is what I've learned so far:
Cross functional teams
It is a common recommendation to have participants from a variety of fields (cross functional teams), because they possess a wider range of capabilities and modes of thinking than homogeneous teams and I am a big fan of that approach.
But there is one thing to keep in mind: When people with different expertises come together, even if they discuss the same topic, they will use different vocabulary and have a different mindset about what is crucial and what not.
For example, if you try to make information content on a retail website more valuable for the users and you put a SEO expert in a workshop together with someone who has sold all the products of the website in a real shop and knows a lot about the customers view for that reason, they will most likely use different words to explain things.
For that reason, a short sentence on a sticky note will very often not be enough for everyone in the room to understand, what a participant is trying to say, so
with cross-functional teams you will have to plan more time for explanations and for that reason also be very present as a facilitator to make sure, that explanations do not lead to discussions.
Do not participate when you facilitate (when you are new to that role)
Now this one might not be true for everybody, but I got this as an advice from a senior UX professional, and it was a very valuable hint, at least for me.
When conducting a workshop, especially when you are new to that role, I felt, that it is very important to keep an eye on where discussions go, if everybody is on the same page, and so on, that getting too involved by contributing one's own ideas could make it really hard to stay focused.
The Lightning Decision Jam Workshop by AJ&Smart