How to run a remote Growth Hack Workshop + FREE Miro and FigJam workshop template
Securing product growth is never not important. Here is how to run a remote workshop to create actionable growth hack experiments in 90 min or less – even if you've never run a workshop before.
Is your product losing subscribers or members? 🛫
Are you struggling to figure out what features to focus on? 🎯
Is your team showing signs of low energy and dwindling ambition? 🥱
Running a well-prepared and structured workshop will help you and your team find clarity and renewed momentum. Furthermore, following a workshop “recipe” is a great tactic to improve your processes.
If done right, I can guarantee that this growth hack workshop will help give you an unfair advantage in building a profitable product.
The quick basics about this workshop:
Time: 90–120 minutes workshop time. About 15 minutes of prep time.
Recommended amount of participants: 3–10 people. Any more than that and you will struggle with time management.
Who should partake: Try to think cross-functional as much as possible. Here’s an example list of people commonly taking part:
Experience needed: I’m writing this article aimed at a Product Owner, Scrum Master, Team Lead, or similar that is fairly unfamiliar with how to run workshops but would love to take a stab at it.
If you’re a seasoned workshop facilitator, or just rather not read, feel free to jump down and download the free workshop templates right now. They contain small instructions that should get you going instantly.
But I recommend you read this through, I will go through exactly how to run this workshop successfully, step by step. I even include small scripts of what exactly to say at certain points that you can use.
Step 0.1 – Define your product challenge.
Before inviting your team to a workshop you have to make sure you know exactly what product challenge you are trying to solve.
There are workshop tactics designed to identify challenges but for this growth hack experiment workshop to be finished in 90 minutes or less – you need to have done some homework before and identified what problem to solve.
I’ll write some articles about defining problems in a workshop in the future so consider subscribing if you haven’t already – but for now, I’m going to assume you have a clearly defined problem and know approximately why it is happening.
Here are some example problems:
Are you looking to solve an acquisition issue?
Are you experiencing drop-offs in the onboarding flow?
Are people not upgrading to a paid plan or maybe too many users are canceling an existing product?
Write down your specific problem.
Now reframe that problem using the How might we-format. This is a classic Design Thinking technique that helps reframe any problem into a question that will help generate ideas better.
Many users are canceling their paid plan --> Becomes: How might we convince users canceling to stay on a paid plan?
Many users sign up but then never actually go and use the product --> Becomes: How might we activate more users after sign-up?
This reframing will help you and your team stay focused and find better solutions.
Step 0.2 – The workshop board prep
Disclaimer: I’m going to be assuming you already are somewhat familiar with how to use digital whiteboard tools like Miro, Mural, or FigJam. They are all very easy tools to use and there are lots of how-to guides out there. Let me know if you’d like to have a how-to guide on any of them.
Once you’ve defined your problem, prepare your workshop board by putting your How might we-question into all of the blue sticky notes. The reason they are repeated across the board is to ensure that your workshop participants don’t have to scroll around so much to remind themselves about the challenge at hand.
Next, it’s time to fill out the workshop participants’ names in each workshop section:
On the individual Lightning Demo sections
Next to the heat mapping dots
On the voting name tags
On the individual experiment sections
Next to the experiment voting dots
I have highlighted everything you need to update with the help of my most trusted Workshop Assistant and Mood Manager™, Björn the Norwich Terrier. Everywhere you see Björn, update according to his instruction, then remove Björn.
Step 0.3 – Invite your workshop participants
The word workshop can be a trigger for some people – I know I have sat through some shitty workshops wishing I could spend that precious time doing “real” work. This is why you need to be clear when sending invites that this will be a workshop where everyone will produce real, valuable work.
Feel free to copy and adjust this example email I’ve used when inviting people to this type of workshop:
As you may or may not be aware of, we’ve gathered insights that we have a problem with many users not engaging with our product after signup.
I’m inviting you to help solve this in a proven and structured growth hack workshop. The outcome of the workshop will be 3 prioritized experiment ideas on how to solve this challenge. I’ve chosen this group of people because I think your expertise is very valuable and well-suited to contribute to this workshop.
We will be working together using the digital whiteboard tool Miro.
You do not need to prepare in any way for this workshop.
Let me know if you have any questions. See you on Friday at 9 am.
How to become the most liked person in your company
The workshop should not take more than 90 minutes. But I recommend you send an invite for 2 full hours just to be safe. And then you can give 30 mins back to the team if you manage to nail the timings and do it in 90 minutes or less. Giving people some precious time back is the greatest gift and your team will only thank you for it.
Preparing a “Decider”
At the end of the workshop, there is a key decision to be made about which experiment ideas to pursue and go for. This step is voted on as a group.
However, voting might end up being a tie. And the participants might not have insight into what can realistically be tested or not. That is why it is helpful to have a Decider role that makes a final call.
The Decider is usually a product owner or some sort of Team Lead that manages the product resources (but it could be anyone that the team trusts really).
If the decider is not yourself, make sure to prepare whoever will have that role ahead of the workshop.
Step 0 – Workshop introduction and check-in
A good workshop requires some soft skills and management of people’s energy levels. When a workshop starts it is your job as the facilitator to make sure to set and get expectations.
This means telling the team what will happen in the workshop and how it will feel (set). Then you ask them how they are feeling (get).
Knowing how the team is feeling is very important before you start. Are they confused or excited about being there? You need to suss out if they are engaged and willing to contribute.
I can’t tell you how many workshops I’ve been part of that have derailed because I realized too late that some participants didn’t understand why they were invited – or were stressed out about a deadline that they couldn’t contribute in a meaningful way.
There are many creative ways to do a check-in – I’ll share some of my favorite methods in a future post so make sure to subscribe if you haven’t already. But for now, keep it simple and just follow this script loosely:
Hi everyone and welcome to this growth hacking workshop. This will take about 2 hours, and at the end of it, we will have 3 awesome growth hack experiments that we can start working with immediately in the next sprint.
I want to prepare you that this workshop sometimes will feel a bit difficult and maybe even confusing, but that’s normal. Just ask me whenever you have a question. I’ll guide you through to the best of my abilities.
Before we begin, I want to check in and see how everyone is feeling, is there someone who is feeling confused, or stressed out and rather not be part of the workshop? Is there someone who is feeling very excited?
Spend the first 5 minutes of doing this check-in. It will set you up for success.
Step 1 – Introduce the challenge
The first step is to recap the challenge at hand to align and focus the team on what you will be trying to solve during the workshop. Explain the problem concisely and give some background information. This step is important even if you feel like the team already knows a lot about the problem. It will be helpful for everyone to get a recap and get aligned.
Before you start talking, make a point out of setting a timer for 5 min and tell the team something along the lines of:
In many parts of this workshop, I will be using the timer to timebox some activities. It can feel stressful for some people but this mechanic is what makes this workshop very efficient and keeps us moving forward – the mindset is progress over perfectionism.
Now, I will briefly summarize the challenge at hand.
If you finish before the clock runs out, simply turn the timer off and move on to the next section.
If you run out of time, try to wrap up within no more than 10 seconds and then move on. Remember, progress over perfectionism is the mindset here.
Quick tip – have everyone follow you
Rather than moving over to screen sharing using Zoom or Teams when you demonstrate exercises – have everyone stay on the digital whiteboard and gather them there. In Miro, Mural, and FigJam there is a feature to have everyone start following your screen and movements.
Miro – Click your avatar and then Bring everyone to me
Mural – Click your avatar and then Ask to be followed
FigJam – Click your avatar and then Spotlight me
Using this feature can be quite jarring for your participants. Overcome this by announcing everyone ahead of doing it. Say something along the lines of:
– “heads up, I’m going to bring everyone to me”
Quick tip – setting a timer
Every section should be time-boxed. Luckily, there are timers built into the popular digital whiteboard tools.
Step 2 – Lightning Demos
A lightning demo is a great, and fun, workshop method to generate tons of inspiration before going into brainstorming and ideation. It helps people get creative.
By looking at how other companies have solved similar challenges, we can identify inspiring elements to use in our solutions. In this section, you’re going to ask your participants to simply go online, or look through their phone apps, for inspiring examples.
Before you let them start the exercise – make sure you demonstrate the example and walk through the instructions.
Here is my usual “script” which is also included on the boards:
*Make the participants follow you*
This exercise – the Lightning Demo – is where we capture 1–2 examples of solutions you find inspiring and then present them “lightning fast” to the group.
Before we try to come up with our own ideas, we’re going to be looking at how other companies and products have solved a similar challenge before. Don’t worry, we will be using these as inspiration and put our twist on them in the next section.
Your first task is to go online or onto your phone’s apps to look for example solutions you find inspiring and have solved similar challenges in an interesting way.
Post one or a couple of screenshots of the solution you want to demo to the group.
Fill in the sticky notes explaining what you like about the solution.
And finally, add a link to the example (if applicable) so that you can refer back to it later if needed.
Here’s an example
*demonstrate the example*
Alright, we will be doing this and most exercises actually, in complete silence – no discussion allowed.
Feel free to mute your mics and turn off your cameras if you want to while doing the exercise.
Furthermore, if you want to add more than one lightning demo, feel free to do so. There are more templates here below that you can use.
*Show where the backup templates are*
Any questions before we begin?
I will now set the timer, see you in 15 minutes!
Many people are likely to take the chance to turn off their cameras. When the time is up you might have to ask people to turn on their cameras again – so that you can see that they are ready to listen to the next instruction.
Step 3 – Heat-mapping on the Lightning Demos
In the heat-mapping section, the purpose is to primarily get your participants reading and looking through everyone else’s lightning demo examples before they pick a favorite in the next step.
You simply ask your participants to place as many heatmap dots as they wish on things they find extra interesting in the lightning demo examples. This is not like voting – there is no limit on the amount of dots they can put on there.
While explaining the exercise, have everyone follow you and demonstrate any of the lightning demos to make an example and help participants understand better.
Set a timer of 10 minutes and tell everyone to start heatmapping!
Step 4 – Voting on lightning demos
Now that the participants have looked through the lightning demo examples, it’s time to put their name tag on the example that they would like to pitch. Ask them to prepare a short pitch about what in particular they liked about their chosen example and how it might help solve your challenge.
Since they will have spent a lot of time looking at the examples in the previous set. Set a timer for only 3 minutes this time.
Troubleshooting: If you notice more than 3 people all choosing the same lightning demo. Gently ask if anyone would consider choosing a different lightning demo so that you get some spread.
Step 5 – Pitching lightning demos
It’s time to pitch! Every participant only gets 1 minute to present. Remember these are lightning demos right⚡️?
As the facilitator, choose one person to start and ask them to present in just 1 minute why they chose their particular lightning demo.
Set the timer for 1 minute when they start talking.
Don’t worry if they run over time for a couple of seconds. But ask them to wrap up if you notice they are dragging on for too long.
This section will of course take different amounts of time depending on how many there are in the workshop.
Step 6 – Generate ideas for experiments
Now the team is probably brimming with ideas they’d like to share with the team. The beauty of this exercise is that even participants that would describe themselves as “uncreative” can contribute a lot. The template of how to present the experiment ideas helps people produce concepts with clarity and structure.
As you might have guessed, you start this section by explaining what to do and showing the example experiment on the board.
Here is a script you can use:
Now it is time to generate some experiment ideas! Your task is to produce one idea you want to pursue and turn it into an experiment we can try in the next weeks.
Let me show you an example, I’m going to bring everyone to me.
*Make the participants follow you*
First of all, give your experiment a catchy title. This helps when we are going to be voting.
Next, describe your idea and hypothesis. Simply what you want to do and what outcome or improvement you expect to see if we build that idea.
To help you produce a more realistic idea, make sure to add what steps we need to take to realize it.
And finally, we need to define success criteria to make sure we know whether or not the experiment was successful or not.
Any questions before we begin?
Just like before, feel free to mute and turn off your cameras while working on this.
I will now start the timer, see you back here in 15 minutes!
Step 7 – Voting on experiments
Now you hopefully have a plethora of actionable experiments to try and improve your product with. But you can’t do them all. To prioritize your team’s efforts you need to vote on which experiments to go for first.
Even if a concept doesn’t get top-voted it doesn’t mean you have to kill that idea forever. You can always return to the workshop board and try those experiments later.
Here is my script of how to introduce the voting:
We’ve now created some awesome experiment ideas! We can’t run them all at the same time so we are going to vote on our top 3 ideas.
You all get three votes.
You may vote on your own ideas. You may put all three on the same idea if you want to, or spread them out.
After this is done, our Decider will make a final call on which 3 experiments to go for this time.
I’ll set the timer for 10 minutes. Go vote!
Depending on what comes up, and how your team is resourced – you might want to focus on only one or two experiments. Feel free to tweak and adapt the voting to only select 1 or 2 ideas.
Step 8 – Decider vote
The decider gets 3 “star votes” to make a final decision with. In the template, they are covered up to make it clear that the decider has to wait until the team has voted.
The decider is asked to consider the team’s voting but it is also made clear that the decider has the final say and can choose a concept with very few votes if they wish.
This is also a unique part of the workshop where discussion is encouraged. The decider is welcome to ask for more details from participants about experiments before making their decision.
Here’s a simple script to introduce it:
Ok team, great job voting. We have some very nice experiment candidates to pursue.
Our decider will now make the final call of which 3 to go for
[Decider name] It’s time for you to place your 3 votes. While you do it, please “think out loud” and tell the team what you are thinking, and why you choose the way you do.
I will set the timer for 5 minutes, go ahead [Decider name]!
Step 9 – Wrapping up
When the decider has made their decision, copy and paste the chosen 3 concepts into the next section. This becomes a neat and structured space to refer to when you start working with the experiments.
I always try to end workshops on a strong note. Take some time to praise the team for their hard efforts and maybe ask them how they are feeling.
To keep momentum, it’s super important that you instantly schedule when to start implementing the experiments. In my experience, this usually happens instantly right after the workshop ends, or during the very next sprint planning.
Make sure to tell the team before the workshop ends that you or the decider will coordinate with the relevant people that are responsible to execute the experiments – so that they feel confident the workshop efforts actually will have an effect.
Depending on your team structure, maybe everyone in the workshop is the very same people that will work on the experiments. Otherwise, it’s important to follow up and send updates about how the experiments are progressing to anyone in the workshop who are not closely involved.
Harry, you’re a workshop wizard!
Hopefully, the workshop will run somewhat smoothly for you. But don’t worry if it doesn’t. Every workshop is bound to have some hiccups and obstacles. A key mindset is to try to be comfortable with improvisation.
I’ve provided you with a somewhat rigid structure to follow, but every workshop can easily be re-designed to your specific conditions and requirements.
There are a million different workshop methods you can use to follow up insights, how to generate ideas, how to prioritize efforts, get a team together or even how to create product strategy.
I started this newsletter because I know many product teams out there are wasting time being misaligned and using ineffective methods to collaborate and build products.
I want to help change that by sharing the best methods I learned throughout my career on how to innovate better together as a team. And specifically, how to produce great products, faster.
I will continue to write both longer and shorter how-to guides and deliver high-value, but completely free, innovation and workshop resources and downloadables.
If you think that could be valuable to you, consider subscribing.