Brainstorming and business planning in PeerVoice

David Noble, Global President, PeerVoice

We used Ketso with our global sales, operational and medical teams to help us develop our detailed plans for the growth of our business. Although we are already a successful global business, we realised that we were not fully tapping into the best source of ideas to help us grow and diversify - our people.

With Ketso, we managed to achieve in days what would normally have taken weeks, if not months, using more traditional methods. I have facilitated hundreds of workshops and I know I could not have got the same results with flip charts and sticky notes. With the wealth of the ideas we generated, they would have been disorganised and almost impossible to categorise and prioritise.

Some of the ideas that came to the surface were surprising, just because of how obvious they were (once we had seen them and realised their importance to us as a company!) and others were ideas that had not occurred to us until we used Ketso. Being able to capture ideas and manually move them around and link them was much more intuitive than trying to do the same thing electronically – and of course we would never have had the group interaction and discussion. I was impressed by the how quickly the team got used to the process, which meant we could focus on the things we really needed to focus on.

Perhaps as important as the fact that we now have a bank of new ideas to accelerate our growth is the enthusiasm and buy-in that the process generated. When we were working with the Ketso action planning grids, we had to limit the number of people who could be on the teams to implement the new ideas!  Our workshop attendees ranged from 2 to 20 years of tenure with the company, and I had feedback from the most junior members about how much they appreciated having their voice heard. Over three days with the whole team we developed twelve priority actions for our business. Ketso is now embedded in our business and is set to be the main methodology by which we develop our growth plans.

About PeerVoice
PeerVoice is a P\S\L Group company that provides free online and print based independent medical education, funded through educational grants from the pharmaceutical industry, for healthcare professionals around the world.

Airbus France

Workshop organiser for Airbus

"When aiming to achieve simplicity and efficiency of the processes in a global organisation, getting the big picture is crucial to arriving at the right solutions. Ketso provided us with an effective visual means for grasping a complex structure and playing with it in an innovative way". 
Our first experience with the kit came after working on an international cross-functional communication project, which had the objective of mapping diverse tools and activities deployed internally throughout the company. We were faced with the challenge of transforming the analysis of an extremely rich database into a creative and productive workshop. Following a search for non-conventional methods of facilitating our workshop, we picked Ketso. Eventually, it served as much more than a hands-on tool for engaging our workshop participants.
In first place, the philosophy behind Ketso helped us structure the working session in a way that resulted in outputs… which none of us imagined was feasible in the timespan of only one hour!  Breaking down the session into 10-minute slots and animating the interludes added a fun element to the brainstorming activity. Most importantly, Ketso helped us kick off the discussion instantaneously, which is never that easy; it acted as an ice-breaker and ensured contribution by each member of the group: everybody had a voice!
Not less valuable were the post-workshop Ketso spreadsheets, which greatly accelerated the process of analysing the inputs, and helped us quickly and objectively decide upon further actions. Ketso stands for action!

Ketso in consulting, coaching, and training for value creation, innovation, and change management in the Pacific Northwest, USA

Dr. Ernest Hughes, HughesGlobal 

What problem does a founder launching a new business, community college, city human services unit, and the management team of a large aerospace manufacturer, all located in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, have in common?  The need to engage stakeholders creatively in exploring the future.  The solution: Ketso.  What about traditional methods like strategic planning and SWOT analysis? Been there. Done that. No fresh insights or inspiration. Ketso encourages the flow of new ideas and knowledge, leading to innovation and organizational change. 

Team visioning day in Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership

Sarah Ball, Coastal Engineer

As a Coastal Partnership our team is dynamic and represents a diverse range of roles and responsibilities. We used Ketso as part of a team visioning day to facilitate discussion around our team identity (who, as a team, are we?); what we are/are not delivering; and what we do and do not enjoy about our jobs.

Giving each person the opportunity to write their thoughts on the Ketso leaves provided the time, space and anonymity required for them to be able to think reflectively about their work and express themselves honestly, without fear of judgement.

With Ketso we collated all our ideas, which enabled us to clearly see the bigger picture and identify common themes. This in turn facilitated a lively and productive discussion of the issues represented. We used some of the Ketso mini felts to highlight key points and identify solutions to some of the key issues we identified.

The Ketso session enabled us to recognise all that we as a team are delivering. This really motivated us, along with the fact we could identify tangible solutions to address areas where we are under pressure and are not enjoying our work. As a result of the exercise, the team gained a greater appreciation for each other’s roles and how they fit together, and the session fostered greater understanding and respect between us. The issues identified through using Ketso have been fundamental in shaping the culture and attitude of our team going forward.

We are planning further Ketso workshops soon, one to identify key stakeholders for a project; another based around creativity to identify if there are better, more innovative and more efficient ways to deliver our work.

Ketso Used in Project Management in the Field of Accounting, USA

Retired Corporate Accountant

I have used Ketso with great success a number of times at my place of work. I am now retired from a large clean electric power generation company headquartered in Houston. My position was Accounting Supervisor at a location in northern California where 15 geothermal power plants generated close to 700 megawatts of power at that time.

We were in the planning stages of a huge ERP accounting software upgrade which would involve a complete re-structuring of the chart of accounts. It was important to have power plant managers understand the implications of the new system, how it would impact them, particularly as it related to major maintenance projects such as plant overhauls, and to make sure they had a say in how their specific needs could be met through the configuration of the new chart fields.

I convened a group of operations managers who were initially skeptical about this Ketso brainstorming system that used a black felt and leaves and branches. When I explained the purpose of the meeting, the complexity of the new accounting system and how important it was for them to be involved in the configuration of the chart fields, and began showing them how Ketso could visually organize their needs, they gradually started to express their ideas. By the end of two hours everyone was involved and the session proved to be very productive. We were able to layout a system that would allow charges to any given power plant or project to be easily identifiable for future cost-benefit analysis, and ensure that the ERP project team addressed our managers’ needs. 

Several times I used Ketso to trouble shoot issues in the accounting department. For example:

  • Re-balancing workload among general ledger accountants. In this case we used the grid to itemize tasks carried out by individuals. We were then able to re-allocate them to ensure no one person was doing more or less than another. Being able to see the tasks and actually move them around really helped in terms of people buying into the process and being able to see that a fair outcome was achieved.
  • Identifying bottlenecks that were interfering with efficiency. We used the full mat with leaves and branches to identify what was working and what was a problem area. We were then able to clearly see relationships and to make a plan of action to address the bottlenecks. The action plan led to further discussions with managers, who took steps to successfully resolve the problems. The structure of the Ketso kit aided in creative problem solving across multiple levels of the organization.
  • Identifying accounting versus non-accounting tasks that were carried out by accounting personnel. At the time that the Company’s accounting function was transitioning to be centralized in the Houston office, we used Ketso to identify the tasks that were strictly accounting and those that were more internal customer services. Ketso helped us clearly see which tasks would be transitioned and which would stay with the local organization. The visual and interactive nature of the kit enabled us to develop a management framework that everyone could see, which helped in the transition.

The free on-line support resources for Ketso; including: user manual, case studies, digital analytical tool and ‘how-to’ training videos; enabled me to use the kit for these multiple different uses.  I was able to download digital workshop plans, which I could use to generate my own customized plans to suit my needs, with timings and guidance for each stage of the workshop.

Team Planning at University of Liverpool Library  

Emma Thompson, Learning and Teaching Lead, University of Liverpool Library

Having seen the benefits of Ketso group work as a participant at the University of Manchester Library, I was keen to use it in my new role at the University of Liverpool. So far I’ve used Ketso for team planning at the University of Liverpool library, with a group of four staff, considering ideas to develop and improve library services for our students in our London campus and those who study online. I also used it to discuss and agree priorities for improving our library subject guides with a group of 12 staff and two felts.

The PowerPoint slides and guidance online made preparation quick and easy, and helped me to focus the workshops by pre-preparing the felts. The Ketso kit allowed me to capture all the ideas, not just those from the loudest participants, or the person with the whiteboard pen. Discussions were lively, yet focused, and participants enjoyed the tactile nature of the kit and the chance to reflect on their ideas before sharing them. We were able to agree shared priorities for the coming year.

We shared the results via the spreadsheet template, which was very straightforward. During the next academic year, I plan to use Ketso with student groups to capture their feedback on the Library and gather their ideas to improve our services.

Ketso Used to Lay Out and Organize a Process Document, Local Government, California, USA

Mary Ellen Rudee, Certified Public Accountant

While working for a local County Controller, I was tasked with documenting the process of quantifying and assigning a dollar value to donated services received to help evacuees and victims during a huge wildland fire that the County experienced in 2015.

I found Ketso to be extremely helpful as a tool to outline the paper, from introduction through identifying and listing the various types of services the County received. Being able to add a leaf to a branch when ideas arose allowed for expansion of a point without having to move other leaves, around as would be the case with sticky notes. I find that Ketso also allows one to see the entire picture at once, unlike a computer-written outline.

Department Development Day, Community, Youth and Education Studies

Faculty of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University

At a recent departmental development day we used Ketso materials and a facilitator to support the review of our undergraduate programmes.  All too often when groups of people come together, the views of some dominate whilst others do not feel comfortable sharing their ideas.  The materials and facilitator were very effective parts of enabling the views of 35 people to be heard as part of the review process.

Innovation: learning from the wisdom of the group

Part of what Ketso does to fulfil its mission (to provide tools for engaging people worldwide, to learn together and develop creative solutions) is to facilitate cross-sectoral dialogue and learning.

In early 2015 we ran a series of open workshops in Glasgow, Manchester and London, exploring Innovation and learning from the wisdom of the group. The aims of these workshops were to:

  • Learn from each other about innovation while making connections with new people.
  • Develop ideas that may be useful for your own projects and work.
  • Experience how Ketso enables structured creativity, active learning and effective groupwork.

These workshops were hosted by Ketso, the Glasgow Refugee and Asylum and Migrant Network (GRAMNet) at the University of Glasgow and the School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED) at the University of Manchester.

There were eighty-eight participants from sectors as varied as housing associations, health and social care, community forests, business support, organisations working with vulnerable children, academia, software design, international development, education, veterinary science, employability and architecture.

Ketso was used to engage the participants in dialogue and gather their ideas. A total of 1105 ideas were developed and discussed. The results can be downloaded below:

As a complement to these workshops exploring innovation, we ran a similar session at a SCIO ('Systems and Cybernetics in Organisation') open event on April 20, 2015, with a focus on ‘Systems thinking and the wisdom of the group’. The results can be downloaded here.

An interesting finding is that of the themes given to structure the conversation, the theme with the least discussion of ideas, but still a high proportion of ‘challenges’ was ‘Linking across levels of scale’. This could be a key area for future exploration on and work. There were some interesting discussions around ‘recognising and solving the right problems’, such as this cluster of ideas:

  • Challenge - The 'problem' is never the problem
  • Disagreement and comment - Interesting because people think that clear problems will lead to a 'fix'
  • Solution - Seek to dissolve the problem instead
  • Solution - The key is to find a way of enlarging the framework of understanding

Developing a Young People's Abuse Prevention strategy for Cheshire

Saskia Richie, Chief Executive, Cheshire Without Abuse

The workshop with Ketso was very successful, it was a group of strategic senior managers from agencies working with children and young people and we were ‘mapping and gapping’ local provision related to teen relationship abuse. It is our plan that this workshop should form the basis of a Young People's Abuse Prevention strategy for Cheshire. Our next step is to take the written up exercise to groups of young people for their input using Ketso. 

Ketso in the creative industries – animation development

Kim Emson, Director, Kim Emson Animates

Thank you so much for introducing me to Ketso. I have been enjoying using the kit, and it has enhanced my business so much.

I use the mini kit to work with clients to refine my story telling process. I work with the clients to help wean every last bit of detail about their business in order to educate myself enough about their business to create the best animation possible for them. Jo Wilkes also worked with me to further refine and enhance my Ketso workshop style according to my own business requirements.

Not only has this been an extremely efficient system for me, but also my clients have been super impressed with me on many levels, so Ketso is also helping to make me look good to my clients. Firstly the clients really enjoyed the process and are able to refine their business’ marketing messages. Secondly they really felt involved in the animation process more than was previously possible, and thirdly they were inspired by the fresh and original process I was using.

The outcome of the meeting is the clients feeling excited about animation and I am better informed than ever to make the best animation for them. Additionally, unbeknown to me, a client of mine is colour blind, and he was so pleased and impressed that he could see the different colours.

Here are the links to some of my client animations after they had been through the Ketso creation process:

Ketso is also a great tool to ensure a thorough 1to1 process with contacts, leading to efficient referral opportunities. I would recommend any of my creative contacts to use Ketso.

NOTE: Kim is also currently designing a new animation for Ketso Ltd. to be launched later this year. Watch this space!

Renfrewshire Council's 2012 Managers’ Seminars

Having used Ketso successfully in engagement with community members and partnership development, Renfrewshire Council now uses Ketso for internal team development and planning. An example of this is two seminars whcih were attended by 323 senior managers from all council services.

Following Chief Executive’s presentation on Renfrewshire Council’s achievements and its priorities for the future, participants were presented with results of a survey carried out with all senior managers prior to the seminars as one of the employee survey pilot. 

A summary of key points showed that a significant majority of managers have a very positive view of their work and their team. However, analysis of results also identified scope for improvement. Managers took part in an interacive workshop session with Ketso, and were asked to identify actions needed to achieve improvement in these areas. Each focus group used Ketso to allow participants share their ideas and prioritise those they felt strongly about.

Comments and suggestions gathered during the workshop session have become part of the Council-wide action plan, which was developed after the employee survey was rolled out in all services.

South Lanarkshire Council's internal engagement

Ketso has been used within South Lanarkshire Council to facilitate workshops with employees and external customers. Internal engagement has included manager’s workshops and debriefs, with areas covered including: Housing and Technical resources Rent Arrears Focus Group – how to reduce arrears; Finance and Corporate Resources - Investors in People reviewers’ debrief; Finance and Corporate Resources - Mangers workshops on how to implement new complaints process.

Externally, Ketso has been used in Community and Enterprise Resources and Social work. Debbie Crawford, Personnel Officer, Consultation, Organisational Development and Equality of South Lanarkshire Council says:

“Ketso is very flexible and lends itself to different types of engagement. We have found benefit in the structured nature which provides focus. It provides users with a sense of security and confidence which means that those who traditionally may not have spoken, are now more likely to contribute to the discussion.

One user commented that Ketso “liberates” service users. Ensuring that everyone has time to think and then write down their comments ensures that everyone has a voice. The result is that plentiful comments and discussion are generated. It’s also simple to use and generates a lot of feedback.”

To see how South Lanarkshire has been using Ketso to engage with the community, click here.

Magnet Magazine editors’ residential meeting

Magnet is a Christian interdenominational magazine edited by a team of volunteers. During the past year the management of the magazine has moved from a charity to a commercial publishing house. Each year the volunteer editors meet together over a two day residential to review and reflect on the magazine’s development and to plan future issues.

As the magazine is in a period of change it was decided in the November, 2012 meeting to begin the residential with a Ketso workshop following the basic Plan-and-Look-forward process. The twelve participants worked in two groups over one and a half hours. An opportunity to view each other’s felts was provided half way through the workshop and participants were invited to indicate interesting ideas as well as placing warning comments as they viewed the felt. To close the workshop each group was invited to identify their three key priorities from among their goals.

As well as the volunteer editors, staff from the publishing company and the magazine designer also participated in the workshop. The use of Ketso enabled a sharing of ideas in a non-threatening and constructive way, which was helpful given the major change in management.

Responses were recorded and circulated to the participants and the following comments were received:

  • ‘Wow, Ann, this is fantastic, I am even more impressed than when we did it last week! Thanks so much for introducing it to us.’
  • ‘Thanks for this – what a mega job typing up all the responses!  The document will be a useful reference for us as we move forward.’
  • ‘I am so impressed with this.  The exercise itself was surprisingly "smooth" and felt very relaxed but really creative and fruitful. The feedback report is superb.  I will take some time reinterpreting it I think but very very professional.  Thank you.’
  • ‘Thanks for your session, it was so interesting and helped us to think through so much.’


Strategic planning at every level

Mary Ann Maggiore, Launching Young People into Adulthood, Marin County, San Francisco, Bay Area

Ketso is a great addition for any forum of people who want to create strategies that really work. The Ketso training that I attended in Marin County, USA helped me to see how  to use the kit for creative problem solving and in group work to develop plans and strategies. It was great to discuss the many different ways that the kit can be used, to help generate ideas, run group sessions and gather feedback about programmes, as well as in the training that I do to build skills in young people. I've used it at work and at my church committee meetings to help clarify strategies. I've used it at home to sort out family matters. Ketso includes everyone and generates all kinds of useful ideas and next step thinking. It works for all ages and all cultures. Next we are going to use it to generate more ideas for a children's nature program. It works on every level.

Review meeting for the Iona Community

Ketso was used in a strategy meeting at the Iona Community. The workshop was run by a member of the team, who had not previously run such an event, using this Ketso workshop plan. The Support Services Manager for The Iona Community commented:

“We used Ketso to review our organisation and make plans for the future of the Iona Community. In the few hours of the workshop, we developed 80 ideas, of which 33 have been actioned in the last few months and a further 21 have been included in specific planning for longer-term change. I think that must be regarded as a successful planning day!. "

The following feedback after the workshop from a participant points to the way Ketso enabled co-workers to learn from each other:
 “We thought the other teams all had very different attitudes, but we discovered that almost everyone actually agreed on almost everything.”

Away days, team meetings and organisational reviews

Ketso has been used in a number of team planning sessions and organisational reviews. The following quotes reflect these uses:

"The ideas were excellent and I really enjoyed it, it certainly set me thinking about the future of the company...
The Ketso tree worked well and kept everything spontaneous. Excellent documentation too. All our products should be spec'd like this prior to inception"
(email from a engineer following a product design day).

"I found both the Ketso materials and your outline plan very helpful... it saved a lot of time both in preparation and in the process, by giving such a clear structure. The 10-minute timing chunks worked really well, and as well as making the process quick stopped people getting bogged down" (Chief Executive following an away day using Ketso).

“Ketso was brilliant, we saved lots of money by not having an outside facilitator, at our last away day, the facilitator plus the venue cost £3,000!” (A health care professional).


Feedback on the use of Ketso in strategy development from our 2012 customer survey

"Ketso helped me to avert a potentially very disastrous meeting. I had one participant who was against the ideas behind the meeting, and by following the steps in Ketso, it helped him and others to focus on key areas. As a result I had documented feedback from the team that I would not have gotten had I had a "normal" meeting."

"Effectively re-balanced workload between team members; resulted in problem areas rising to the surface (coming into focus); identified list of future tasks that need to be addressed; helped participants understand why their input was needed (how it would serve them/their needs in the future)"

"Particularly useful for a training needs analysis, where I got participants to identify strengths and weaknesses in their current knowledge and practice."

Several customers would like to see Ketso in more use within their own organisations. One would like to see their colleagues use Ketso:  “At present our meetings are quite haphazard and unproductive. Ketso can definitely help.” 

Another respondent answered a question about who they would recommend Ketso to:
“Personnel in the company where I work. Specifically project managers who plan, budget for and forecast both large and small repair and maintenance projects, as well as capital projects. I believe if they used Ketso they would gain a more comprehensive overview of the work that needs to be done, and the resources needed (i.e. labour, materials and time).”

  Click here to read summary of 2012 Ketso Customer Survey.