Crowd-sourcing an away day

Why crowd-source your company’s offsite event?

Internet chatter concerning ‘crowd-sourcing’ reached its peak in 2018 according to Google. You’d think these efforts are most suited to the creative and finance industries; from small-scale civic history projects to massive funding rounds, like the $6million raised for a desk toy (the Fidget Cube) to $371million raised for the brewco Brewdog (to grow its bar network).

Crowd-sourcing mirrors our own world of Agile development; gathering requirements, shortening release cycles and of course, adding stakeholders into end-of-sprint retros. In the past year, Zupa has grown into a company of 40 highly engaged people (see our new office here), all working to create great software that produces ‘tools for better business’. Whilst carefully planned, this rapid growth in numbers reflects numerous career experiences, often across many years. It reflects many styles of what, when and how employers talk with their staff.

Imagine a way to engage such a varied range of recent hires; from those who’ve previously worked on ‘quiet’ sensitive data coding projects to people like me, whose job it is to talk about Zupa all day!

The time had come to crowd-source a company offsite day – a refinement as opposed to a reset. This approach suited our engaged teams and purposely broke down any haunting echoes of ‘death by PowerPoint’ that we have all experienced at some point in our careers. Read on for our easy ways to make a modern company day a success!

Shaping a modern offsite team event

  • Master the ideal timing. We considered how we have cut our development show-and-tells down to brief, lightly rehearsed conversations. Whilst going off site kept the purpose defined, it did mean employees were already used to (and comfortable) with the style of delivery. Similar to our Agile retros, we did not keep questions to the end. This more conversational style kept questions within the context of the topic, and helped achieve clarity at the earliest time. Knowing how many 20-minute speaker slots we needed, allowed us to…
  • Crowd-source the topics. As a Microsoft Silver Partner, we use tools such as Teams and Azure DevOps to communicate effectively and get the very best out of an idea. We begun the conversation on our digital channels and as early as possible. Digital means data; and in the weeks leading up to the event, we were able to split the difference between information gaps and training needs. All employees could suggest content; all teams had an opportunity to participate.
  • Start the Q+A session before the event. What happens with the data you collected at the topic planning stage? It’s wise to add a live document (in our case, a simple Excel sheet) to the digital chat thread. Put one person in charge of collating the questions and the answers. You then use the Q+A document on the day to ensure all of your employees are happy with, and have understood the answers given.
    This live document has additional uses. You can tell which teams are truly engaged. You also give some breathing space to employees that may not wish to ask questions in such an open forum.
  • Presentations are valuable content. In a similar fashion to the live Q+A document, our crowd-sourced presentation now becomes a powerful refresher and a staff onboarding tool. The work required to build introductory and company vision content is done; leaving time for future audience-appropriate edits. You can also be sure that all employees are working to a single, agreed message.

Bonus tip: This is your chance to take a ‘family’ photo. If your organisation is like ours, it can be tough to get everyone ‘in the same room’!

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