Over the past weeks, a key part of our work with the JRF on the ecosystem mapping for their insight infrastructure was designing a series of workshops. Whilst preparing for these workshops, we have had to balance making these workshops engaging whilst also being insightful for the work we are doing. One key thing I learnt is the importance of designing workshops that encourage people to talk. During the prep stages, Tim emphasised that what will be most useful is not the direct responses to our workshop prompts, but the conversations between participants. Our prompts should be used almost to ‘prime’ people on the topic and the ideas we are thinking about, but most importantly to encourage conversation. That way, the topics that are discussed are those which the participants themselves feel are most important or most closely linked to our topic.
One thing I learned from the participants of this workshop was how integral it was to have an audience in mind when designing an insight infrastructure. This point was brought to my attention indirectly whilst the participants completed the first task which was to evaluate an existing insight infrastructure. Many of the responses began by highlighting that their views were motivated by their own roles and what they would use the insight infrastructures for. Thus, the features that they found useful were specific to their needs and may not be as important to other potential users. One participant noted that it was difficult to assess or evaluate the existing insight infrastructure without knowledge of who it was designed for and what it was designed to do. It would be almost impossible to design an ‘insight infrastructure’ that fulfils the needs of everyone and so it’s quite important to have an audience in mind. This also highlighted to me how important it was to have a diverse group of participants from different backgrounds, with different aims and different roles within the larger UK poverty ecosystem.
I look forward to the upcoming workshops and the developments that are made along the way.