Some Ideas for Team Forming

A good number for a working team is about 5 to 7 people. Suggest that people form teams with people they don’t work with or know well: this brings a bigger opportunity to learn new stuff—and meet people!

< picture by Istanbul Jam >

Each local Jam is free to choose how to form groups, but here are some ideas and tools.

  • You can go Ideas First: the jammers all together propose ideas in response to the Topic and then they form teams around the most popular ideas, or…
  • You can go People First: first, the teams are formed and then each team has to work on finding his proper idea to work on.
  • We found that the Ideas First method works better and faster. People share their brainstorming at the beginning and this opens up their mind to the Theme. Then they propose ideas and choose one, finding like-minded people who chose the same idea: so when they start to work they can build upon it (or also abandon that idea). They will not face the “blank page syndrome” and generally the team will have good vibes.

Try to design the team forming process to have a good mixture of skills in each team:

  • Students: they want to learn from professionals, so try to have them distributed among the teams, avoid a mostly student team. We suggest you have no more than 33% of students as participants in a team if possible.
  • Subject expert: if you have participant who are experts on the Jam subject (eg. service designer, sustainability) try to have them distributed among the teams too – or ask them to mentor.
  • Designer: try to have a jammer experienced in the different phases of the design process in each team, this will help the team to keep moving. (any other skill you think is important: some Jams tried to make sure visualizers, artists etc were well distributed between teams)

Summary: it seems it is better to initially form groups around ideas, instead of building teams and then letting them search for an idea. Next, try to arrange teams so to have subject experts, experienced jammers and ‘leader types’ well distributed among them. Always take advantage of natural group forming.

Always remember… all the team–forming tools are good guidelines and tools to have great working teams—but remember to take advantage of natural team forming. So, if you find that some teams are not so well balanced, propose the changes you think would be good—making clear that you are just trying to have a good Jam. But if you see that people are not happy to move to another team, just let them stay where they are. Yes, they need to work, but they also want to have fun.

Ceremony & Ritual    Team–Forming Tools >

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