New Product Development Workshops

Stuck with a few ideas for new products or services?

Team not sure what’s next?

You have a number of new ideas but you are not sure what should be the order of priority or in what order to introduce them?

The Rainmaker team have run a number of workshops that have tested and created new ideas for product and service innovation

  • We’ve facilitated a workshop between a client and their major customer
    • Between them they generated 20 new “low-cost to implement” ideas that would improve the products performance in the eyes of the client


  • We’ve extensively planned and facilitated a customer / stakeholder workshop based on Knowledge Café Principles
    • It revealed why a new product had not been as successful as anticipated
    • It also came up with a series of actions to get it back on track.


  • We’ve also facilitated an internal team planning a major investment in a Data-Centre used by its clients.
    • Generating suggestions to improve usability from a selling viewpoint
    • Additional low cost ideas but of high value to clients using the datacentre frequently

If you have a need to pull together teams of people and generate a creative buzz and generate new ideas then this workshop is for you.

How much does a Rainmaker facilitator cost?

  • If it’s a straight forward , 1-day Strategy Planning Session during the week (not weekends)
  • There is a little phone / email based briefing to be done
  • A facilitator for the 1 day workshop , all materials , all planning and prep, travel to and from the venue
  • Then a good “ball-park” figure is £1,750 + VAT including everything
  • If you need us to help you construct a Knowledge Café or World Café with lots of people
  • Multiple stakeholders with different interests involved
  • Different clean questions and group and plenary sessions
  • May be a face to face briefing and lots of pre-planning then a good range is £3k to £7.5K
  • Call us , Discuss your needs and we’ll give you a fixed price quotation in half a day .

A few of our more recent Workshop projects

  1. External Board of Directors of Equality and Human Rights Commission
    • A variety of topics in a 1 day a month sequence
  2. Department of Health Senior Leadership Team
    • Running a Knowledge Cafe style workshop with the topic of
    • “Responsible Drinking for London”
    • Medical Professions, Politicians, Charities etc
  3. Kuoni A Multi-National Travel Company
    • New Leader with an existing team
    • Agreeing a New Vision and New Approach
  4. Strategic Planning workshops for Microsoft Services in the UK.
    • First workshop had 32 people in it, the next one 45 and the next 64 people
    • All rated as hugely successful by the teams.
  5. High impact scenario workshops for BP ( Castrol division)
  6. A weekend based strategy planning workshop for a fast growing IT Services business NETSTAR
  7. A European team member workshop for a new Director in Kuoni
  8. An Operations team strategy and performance improvement workshop for Concrete an IT Platform company
  9. Strategic Planning for ALL of the people in a small software company. Caresys
  10. Strategic Planning for VISA Europe’s Central European Team
  11. Workshops for the managers in a fast growing Homecare company  Abicare
  12. Process Improvement Workshops for a Printing company CPI BOOKS
  13. Workshop and Business Planning with 15 Subsidiary M.D.s for VINCI ENERGIES
    1. Second Series with subsets of VINCI businesses

Where have we facilitated workshops?

  • London and Thames Valley    West Midlands  Essex and Norfolk
  • South West of England   +      Germany / France / Gibraltar

If this workshop looks like something that would suit you…

Call us now on: 0845 652 1955

Or if you using a mobile call us now on: 0333 444 1955

Email us at: and we’ll call you back in one working day we promise .

Need A Workshop Facilitator? 5 Ways A Rainmaker Knowledge Café Can Transform Your Business

Need A Workshop Facilitator? 5 Ways A Rainmaker Knowledge Café Can Transform Your Business You have a new project at work. You organise a meeting and get the team together. You desperately want to hear from everyone, including internal and external stakeholders .. However as usual the same voices dominate the discussion and everyone else nods quietly in agreement. Sometimes getting everyone’s perspective helps. That’s where a Rainmaker Knowledge Café comes in.

What Is A Knowledge Café?

A Knowledge Café is a workshop where participants sit in small groups of four to eight people at a table, like a café. Participants at each table discuss one specific question for 20 to 45 minutes. At the end of each round, one person stays at the table and the rest of the participants move to other tables. The person who remains at the table acts as a host to welcome the new participants to the table. The host summarises previous round’s discussion for the newcomers. Then the newcomers share their observations from the previous round and the discussion continues. In the third round, participants have the option of returning to their first table. A new question can also be introduced to deepen the discussion. After several rounds, the whole group share their discoveries and insights. The Knowledge Café builds on the collective knowledge of the group to develop possibilities for creative action.

5 Ways A Knowledge Café Can Transform Your Business

1. Increased Participation. Sometimes the most dominant people do not have all answers. In a Knowledge Café all contributions are valued, from board members to junior staff. Working in smaller groups helps quieter people feel more comfortable and gives them the chance to get their views heard. Decisions are made that take account of a broader spectrum of opinions. 2. New Perspectives. The Rainmaker facilitator will listen to everything that is said and accurately feedback the discussion to the group. The facilitator will help the group and remain open to input from all group members. People who perform different roles in the company may have conflicting ideas. Facilitation brings different views together to form a fresh perspective on a situation. 3. Creative Solutions. The supportive environment of the Knowledge Café allows groups to make creative decisions. Instead of focusing on the problem, groups concentrate on the desired future state that they want to achieve. Working backwards from the solution allows participants to think more creatively. 4. Faster decisions. The Rainmaker Cafe speeds up the decision-making process. Participants focus on their first intuitive responses, which often lead to higher quality decisions than a long drawn out analytical process. Participants continue to build on the decisions made at the Knowledge Café once the workshop has finished. 5. Improved Motivation. People are more committed to plans they help create than plans that are simply imposed upon them. Sometimes managers are afraid that junior staff will make bad decisions. However, our experience tells us when people are well-informed of the facts and work together in a safe environment, the collective knowledge and co-operation of the group leads to better decisions. As a result, staff are motivated to implement these decisions more quickly and effectively.

Knowledge Café Workshops

We’ve run Knowledge Cafes for the NHS in Central London bringing together patients, clinicians, charities, public health professionals and politicians. Our clients have used Knowledge Cafes for strategic planning and developing new projects. Rainmaker Knowledge Cafes focus on building creative plans and achieving successful solutions. Find out more about Rainmaker Knowledge Café can help your business.

Rainmaker Training ; A Cross-Selling Workshop?

Can the people across your company describe what you do for your customers?  

Can they really describe it to your satisfaction?
Could their descriptions motivate a client to ask for more information on the service?

Try these workshops with your team as a test.

It helps if your cross-selling workshop facilitator has had some exposure to Sales and Marketing concepts and References /Case Studies.
If you need help You can email us on

Conversational Elevator Pitch and Value Propositions

This workshop is designed to get your teams to articulate what benefits you and your people deliver to your clients.
First you go around the room explaining that you are the Chief Executive of one of your major clients.
Shake people’s hand and say ” Hi I’m John Smith. I’m Chief Executive here. Who are you and what do you do around here?”

We suggest that you try this now (go on stand up from your desk now! )
Go and see what your team actually say!!

Common things we hear are….

  • I’m a Q.S (that’s a Quantity Surveyor for the uninitiated)
  • I’m an Enterprise Solutions Architect…  ? Well if we ever need one we’ll ask!
  • A few use technical jargon loaded statements that are unintelligible to the non expert
  • Others give a detailed description of the project that they are working on and the people they work with
  • Or One Wag just said …”Do you know where the loos are here?”

If your people give you sensible short and succinct answers then stop now.
There’s really little to be gained by continuing ..
HOWEVER if they can’t deliver that kind of message then carry-on

Step 1. What are the long / the medium / the short answers?

  • Introduce the team to the 5 areas of Business Benefits
  • Get them to describe something that you and your team do that delivers …
    1. An ability for your client to increase their revenues
    2. An ability to reduce their costs per transaction
    3. Increases their employee productivity
    4. Allows them to increase their customer satisfaction
    5. Makes the business compliant with one or more laws of the land
  • Have the teams connect what you do to one or more of these benefit areas
  • Get them to come up with a 5 or 6 sentence answer to the above CEO’s question
  • Get them to shorten it and make it punchy
  • Next job is to have a 2 sentence summary that still mentions major benefits

Expect to see people deliver sentences that are full of techno-speak. Disallow those
However you’ll see people come up with benefit connections you hadn’t seen.
You might also see that the team does not know what benefits you bring to your clients at all! 
You might also see that given some of your answers that your marketing collateral does not make benefit statements at all!! ( We did only find that in one case)

You should now have your Elevator Pitch and you should make sure everyone in the company can say it.

Step 2: Describing your Value Propositions to parts of your client decision making unit (DMU)

  • Ask each team to describe the various players in the typical DMU for their customer
  • Ask ”What do these people worry about?
    • Senior Executives  (MD, FD, ITD, Engineering):
    • These??  Courts / Cash / Customers / Competition / Competency
    •  Middle Management (Business, Financial, Technical)
    • Specialists (Business, Financial, Technical)
  • Have them describe your value proposition to each category and segment
  • Capture and share the output with the team
  • Get the team to own sharing stories on clients

If this sounds like something you could see working in your team…

If you’d like us to act as a Cross-Selling workshop facilitator and run this workshop for you

Call us or email us


Workshop Facilitation: Building Flexibility into Scenario Planning

Building Flexibility into Services Business

( An Article inspired by one from Charles Green)

When our Workshop Facilitators facilitate Scenario Planning sessions for companies we ask them to think about their key success factors.

One of the examples we use is four areas of success factors and have them see how they changed for the Auto industry from the post war period into late 1900s.

The four success factors we mention are

  1. Managment and Board Experience
  2. Technology
  3. Marketing
  4. Operations

In the early part of this period it’s widely thought that the keys to success were

  1. Management And Board: Ability to control labour cost through negotiations with unions
  2. Technology: Standardised and Easy to build gas guzzlers
  3. Marketing: Exclusive Efficient and Effective dealer network
  4. Operations: Efficient mass production using automated assembly line

However as time wore and oil crises loomed and competitors making smaller cars emerged  they changed to

  1. Management And Board: Supply Chain management and Strategic Alliance Management
  2. Technology: Fuel efficient engines
  3. Marketing: Brand Development
  4. Operations: High quality manufacture of smaller runs

You can already begin to see from a people and their skills point of view in the example above they are fundamentally different.
And many other aspects of a company would have to have changed dramatically in order to be great after the changes.

We ask the Leadership team members who are scenario planning what key success factors are at play today …
Then we get them to speculate on what the key success factors might be in the future .

Then we ask them to look at how they can build flexibility into their company.
We know we cannot KNOW the future but we can try to be as nimble and flexible as possible to cope with any changes that the market may throw at us.

Here are a few areas that people are coming up with more flexible approaches that you may find interesting

  1. People and skills:
    You may assume that today it will take a certain elapsed time to hire a particular category or type of of employee
    A common rule of thumb is thatit’s a three-month cycle.
    What if you could cut that to three weeks? To three days?
    You should definitely be thinking about managing people but not having them on your payroll to improve your flexibility.
    Think contracting, outsourcing, working virtually, across time zones, modularising work.
    Software, movies and consulting rojects get done now, why not extend it to “core” hiring?
  2. Facilities and Equipment:
    You are all probably still assuming that you must own or have first call on assets like facilities and equipment
    However what if you could get all the access you need just by sharing with others?
    That would save lots of money and increase your ability to flex.
    After all, you rent a room at the Holiday Inn in Reading instead of owning an apartment there.
    Why own a car when you can use Citycar?
    Why are you driving alone? Why not download the car share app.
    Why are you paying Microsoft for software to sit on your PC getting old when you can access cloud software, always updated, for less?
    Why are you buying new books instead of buying used for a 1p + Postage!?
    Why are you spending money on dedicated office space when you could share it out with other tenants? Regus? Instant Offices?
  3. Knowledge management and IP development
    You still think your organisation must nurture its knowledge and keep it safe.
    How about generating more knowledge, and more know-how, by openly sharing what you have with everyone else?
    This is the logic behind networks, communities of interest, collaborative marketing, open-sourcing, Crowd funding, wikis, webinars, curating, mash-ups, etc.

In what other areas of business life can you build flexibility into your company and make it more resilient when change happens??

Workshop Facilitator : Questions for you to get a NEW team working together

If you really want to be a Workshop Facilitator and
help the process of Team FORMING… then try this.

Ask every individual on the team to answer the following series of questions.

Then try to facilitate a common team view from the answers.

The test of completion is that every member of the team should be able to answer the questions as they apply to them at the end of the workshop

  1. Do we have a clear vision of what this team should achieve
    1. Short term
    2. Medium term
    3. Long term)
  2. What is my role
  3. What am I supposed to be doing?
  4. What is my goal?
  5. Who are the team’s main suppliers? (internal or eternal)
  6. Who are the team’s major customers? (internal or eternal)
  7. Who are my customers and what do they want and need of me or the team?
  8. Are processes for which the team is responsible documented and well-understood?
  9. What are the teams values?
  10. Are they well aligned with my values?
  11. Do we have the right people on the team to achieve our goals?
  12. Do we the people have the skills and knowledge to achieve our goals?
  13. Are team members multi-skilled and capable of covering for one another?
  14. Are communication channels at all levels open and well-designed?
  15. Do team members know how to ask for help when needed?
  16. What will I do if obstacles beyond my control arise
  17. Do team members listen well (to the team leader and each other)?
  18. Who determines my work/tasks priorities and how will this be done?
  19. What are the measurement systems for our goals, progress and performance?
  20. Who will help me when I need it (and how)?
  21. What happens when my efforts on this team are unsuccessful
  22. What happens if I disagree with major decisions on this team?
  23. Are team reward and recognition system well designed and executed?
  24. What will happen when I succeed at a task or project (or exceed expectations)?
  25. What are the rewards or recognition for my best efforts (and are these fair)?

Workshop Facilitation: What’s it take to be a Workshop Facilitator ?

What’s it take to be a Workshop Facilitator?

Many people have the ability to direct, instruct, lecture, and train other people in groups and one to one.
Some may even be able to coach individuals.

However that does not necessarily mean they have the ability to create a climate in which individuals can find their own way. This is one of the skills of a facilitator.

Facilitating is the process of helping participants to learn from an event or activity.
One definition of a facilitator is “one who makes things easy.”

For us it’s someone who uses their knowledge of group processes and dynamics to formulate and deliver the needed structure for any particular session or group of interactions to be effective and successful.

With your Rainmaker Workshop facilitator focused on effective processes, this allows the participants to focus on the content of their work together. A Workshop Facilitator uses techniques that help a group work together effectively and accomplish its purpose. We think that part of the art of a good facilitator is to get the group to declare that purpose at the outset.

Once the facilitator knows what is to be accomplished they then seek to assist participants

  1. Discovering what they already know
  2. Interpreting their experiences
  3. Building on their knowledge, attitudes and skills
  4. Learning how to work together
  5. Providing a structure while they remain focused on the content
  6. Speaking up so that everyone’s voice can be heard

We often say to ourselves just before we start the workshop
“It’s ok to know nothing of the content, everyone else in the room has more than enough!”.

So when you are choosing whether you need a Workshop Facilitator you probably need to think about the differences between someone who is a content expert and someone who is a facilitator.

If you need a Content Expert they will

  • Present information
  • Provide the “right” answers
  • Use primarily One-way communication
  • Will be ME or Leader-centered

Whereas a Facilitator

  • Will guide discussions
  • Provide the right questions
  • Facilitate Two-way communication
  • Will be YOU or Group-centered

In fact for some workshops you may actually need both roles…
Someone from outside , maybe an industry expert to give external trends,views and go.
Then have a facilitator to get the group to use what they have just heard and what they know.

For the Rainmaker Workshop Facilitation team …

  • The facilitator’s role is focused on the group interaction processes.
  • They know that workshop facilitation can involve many different levels of problems and challenges.
  • It can assist the group in fulfilling its overall objective.
  • It can also deliver participants to new levels of understanding.

A Rainmaker Workshop Facilitator:

  • Doesn’t evaluate
  • Focuses thier energy on achieving the task
  • Suggests methods/procedures/structures for accomplishing the task
  • Protects individuals and their ideas from attack
  • Helps to find win/win solutions
  • Gives everyone the opportunity to participate
  • Ensures that even the smallest of voices is heard

Workshop Facilitation: 3 Ideas to link Execution to Strategy Planning

Some people cringe when they hear that they are going on a strategic planning workshop.

An “Away-Day” brings shivers down their spines.
They have been to the off-sites with bright ideas, they’ve seen the slick “final plan” and then they’ve seen . . . nothing.
Nothing seems to be happening.
Nothing is changing and they begin to realise that it’s happened again:

Strategy execution wasn’t part of the plan.
Yet again our leadership team wasn’t serious.

If you are a leader AND you want to be serious AND you want strategy execution to be part of the plan here are our three ideas to work your plan and make your plan work.

1. A steady accountability drumbeat.
You may be a great communicator and can SELL you plan to others but in our experience your plan will fail if you don’t build in regular rigourous reviews (Our version of the 3Rs!)  and also know as an accountability cycle.

Each member of the leadership team must regularly (say, monthly) stand in front of boss and peers and report progress on his or her piece of the strategic plan.

  • The presentation should simply cover the following :
  • This is the measurable impact I committed to achieve last time I stood here.
  •  Here is the progress we’ve made
  • Here are a couple of rocks on my runway I could do with some help to remove
  • These are any changes I’d suggest to our direction and why
  • See you next month!

This is a great conversation, and it will make everyone realise, “Oh Dear,  That stuff we came up with in this plan is actually my day job!”
Also, these conversations create self-correction and improvement in the strategic plan.
That means that your strategic plan doesn’t have to start out perfect;
you can settle for the 60/40 solution and just get going!
A regular, rigourous review will help the organisation stay focused.
It also keeps leaders aligned with each other and knowing that they are acting as a team.
If you work with Rainmaker and use our Workshop Facilitation services your strategic plan will spell out what each team member is to accomplish.
Otherwise accountability is impossible.

2. Manage your strategic initiatives as projects.

Strategic plans almost always name something new that has to be accomplished.
Strategic “initiatives,” have a beginning, middle, and end – and an outcome.
In other words they’re projects to be managed.
Now you can tap into the field of project management.”
Key points.

  •  Put ONE person in charge of the project.  There’s a reason ships don’t have two captains.
  • Establish a clear goal, a clear timeframe, and a budget.      SMART objectives anyone?
  • Progress reports need to be couched relative to  (a) work accomplished vs. schedule  (b) work accomplished vs. budget. Make sure you get both.

3. Get your organisations innovation switched on.
Many organizations’ plans identify gaps between where they are and where they want to be – and they cite “innovation” as the way to close that gap.

An Idea for you to  encourage innovation

  • Encourage what we call constructive failure.
    Use this formula: Non-fatal failure + learning = discovery. You need discovery for innovation, and the more discovery the better.
    Failure + blame (excuses) = uh, FAILURE.      When you see someone being blamed for failure at least act annoyed
  • Reward innovative solutions, reward learning from failure
  • Reward people for reaching across boundaries to create solutions.
  • Contests work for a while (so use them)
  • Demonstrating that you take “different thinking” seriously – whether or not you use it – always works.We hope this helps those of you who are serious about your strategic planning.

Let us know if you need any Workshop Facilitation Assistance for your next Away Day .
Email us at