If you work in an agency, especially one that prided itself on being a “digital agency” back in the early 2000s, you might encounter people who hold workshops as a way of fostering client commitment.

The idea is to get all client-side stakeholders in a room and hold exercises and activities to cement mutual understanding about shared goals.

However, workshops are a terrible idea from a psychological standpoint. A workshop enables a phenomenon called diffusion of responsibility which, if you ever did group projects in middle school, you should already be aware of. This is the situation in which a person is less likely to take responsibility for action or inaction when others are present. By definition, the larger the group, the easier it is for anyone within that group to exhibit this behavior.

What tends to happen is that the conscientious people in the group might take initiative to do part of the work. Then, they grow increasingly frustrated by the inactivity of the other group members. Eventually, nothing gets done and nobody gets blamed for it.

A better strategy is to avoid workshops altogether and assign individuals from the agency and the client to keep a tight dialogue and mutual accountability towards a shared goal.