The Roadmap to Digitalization – Episode 5: Idea Workshops as Means of Innovation and Participation

Digital transformation or digitalization is widely discussed today. Digitalization offers an abundance of products based on new technologies and technological platforms that possess the capability to reshape business processes, organizational structure and ways of working. It holds the power to reshape complete business models or even overall market situations.

A few months back we already talked about a four-step approach to digitalization in which one steps comprises an analysis phase where workshops are used to collect ideas and rethink business models. Today, we would like to elaborate on this step.

Innovation Phase with Idea Workshops

To find out what you can do in a particular field of digitalization in an organization – say mobility or big data analytics – you have to look two ways: There are the technological and market developments you need to consider. They offer new ways of doing work or new ways of work and business at all. And there are the people in the departments of the organization who know most of the daily processes, customers and applications.

We design or idea workshops to incorporate both sources of information:

  1. Introduction: Workshop participants get an introduction to the workshop topics and objectives. The customer project leader is invited to says something about how the workshop fits into the digitalization efforts of hers/his organization.
  2. Impulses: We offer information related to the workshop topics in one or more keynotes. This could encompass a general introduction to digitalization (followed by a few lead questions), an overview of a specific digital topic (i.e. what is big data all about) or the presentation of new features of a specific software. Sometimes impulses are also given by customer subject matter experts or the project leader.
  3. Idea collection and discussion: The workshop participants are given time to think about ideas. Ideas are written on cards and collected on a pin board. Each person pinning a card to the pin board is asked to present her/his idea. If desired, ideas are collectively prioritized.

We have already performed several such workshops for the last year and a half and always ended up with a surprisingly high number of proposals. Most of the proposals were quite straight forward offering ideas for quick win solutions making existing processes better. Some of the proposals were quite unorthodox – but we considered them valid nonetheless, because in today’s business world it’s the unorthodox business idea that wins the day.

Momentum for Change

Digitalization efforts – like all change efforts in an organization – should include and rely upon all members of an organization. They will be the ones to put the changes in strategies, services and processes into action.

We see these workshop as a means of participation and use them explicitly to include the people in the transformation process: They are allowed to think about their work, put it in different perspectives with the impulses given and make useful suggestions.

The customer’s organization management is called to follow up on the idea workshops with a transparent process about how and why the collected ideas are handled further – which of them are prioritized, which are realized in (pilot) projects and finally introduced to a department or the whole organization. In the workshops, we always experienced people willing to contribute and cooperate. This momentum can be made a strong support for changes driven by digitalization.

Interested? If you are interested in digitalization and enterprise architecture management, please, have a look at the other episodes in our blog and contact us: sales(at) For further information, please, also visit our website.