I love building teams! I cannot lie…I have always had a passion for this and something I take great enjoyment in. It can be any team ranging from a guild, a chapter, leadership to development teams.  To me these are all little eco systems that have to be shaped to achieve the goals of the people and organisation. Kicking off teams correctly forms relationships and set the working agreements to help shape us.

Earlier this week I told you that I was hosting an ADM away day. Well I used this opportunity to run the canvas exercise once again.

What is the Canvas?


So how did I run this session?

So my thinking has really evolved in the last 6 months and I now run it completely different, but hey that’s evolution! I started off the team thinking about their individual values through  the Real Deal exercise I blogged about earlier in the week.

I then got them to think about what they bring to the team or super powers as I like to call it. Also what their aspirations are and who they most admire.  To make this easier for them I created a handy little template.

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I gave them a few moments to have a think about content and then I give them a time box to go around as many people in the group and share this knowledge.  This part gets really noisy and is super fun!

So by this point in the session they now know a good chunk of information about their fellow collaborators and have really started or deepened the team cohesion.

From here I used to take them to the purpose statement, but I found even the best teams struggled to do this straight away,  and so instead I ask the to brainstorm the values they want within the team.  Now …they will come up with many and so use techniques such as dot voting to pick the ones that are most pertinent.  I usually create this into a word cloud and include in the write up.

Next we brainstorm all of the goals we want to achieve. Simple brainstorming and de-duplication works well here. Remember they are goals and so the team needs to be able to measure them.

Then the purpose Smile By now they understand who they are, who the team are and what we want to achieve.  I find the old classic diverge and merge works well. I literally gave the 5 minutes per group per round.  Amazing what you can achieve in such a short time.


After a bit of final word shuffling..we had our purpose! Success!

Finally we moved onto the way we want to work.  You can facilitate this in a number of different ways but I have been favouring a good ole user story of late.  Let them know the problem statements and who we are serving and then let them decide for themselves how they want to work. Then set the terms of the experiment and give it a go!

All in all I can typically get teams to define this in 90 mins max. Usually 60 minutes if they are an existing group.

After this we then write up and make really visible to absolutely everyone. Sadly I cannot post a fully completed one, but here is the style I usually use to make it fun and engaging.


I typically get large posters of these printed  (£10) and get everyone in the same room together. If I am distributed I find the tool Miro works the best.  In fact, Miro is awesome for retros too! #notsponsored

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With anything, as a group you will need to evolve this overtime.

So I hope this has given you another tool to put in your box. Go out and experiment! If you can think of any other cools techniques to facilitate this session. Drop me a line.