Team–Forming Tools

< picture by @cristianosiri >

Tool: The Badge Icons Balancing tool

How does it work: distribute badges with icons representing different skills or roles you think are useful in each team—like Student, Subject Expert, Designer, Visualizer, fluent English speaker, etceteras.…

At the event check–in—or during online subscription—ask participants to mark one or more role or skill they have on the badges. You can also give them an explanation of each icon. During team–forming, suggest that the Jammers try to form teams with balanced roles and skills—this is not compulsory, just a suggestion—and after the teams are formed check if they are balanced. If they are not, suggest some changes.

Needs: identify roles and skills Find an icon and an explanation for each one. Put icons on the badges. Provide marker to mark icons.

Why: to have more balanced teams, better suited to go through a 3–Days Challenge.

When: prepare the cards in the days before the Jam. Let them mark the icons during subscription or at check–in. Use them during the forming–teams–phase.

Tool: Personality Matching

How does it work:
 it’s a good idea to get some basic information about participants when they register. This enables you to get an overview of personalities, work styles and preferences before the Jam. Alternatively, you could ask a couple of simple questions on the registration page, or perhaps do a more detailed personality test as part of the kick–off session.

When: ideally before the Jam, or on the first evening.

< picture by communicatie at AIN >

Tool: Fun Musical Team–forming method (ideas–based)

How does it work:

  1. Announce the Jam Theme.
  2. Give every participant a piece of paper, and give them 2 minutes to write their first idea/priority/goal/project/whatever on the paper.
  3. Turn on some fun music. Ask participant to run around the room—with the right music they’ll dance! Every time they pass someone, they swap papers.
  4. Stop the music. Each participant grabs the closest person. They briefly compare the two ideas on the two papers—which very probably will be not theirs. Then they assign seven Coolness Points between the two ideas, marking them on the paper—they can assign 7 points to an amazing idea and 0 to a bad one, or spread the points more evenly, perhaps even 3:4.
  5. Put on the fun music again, repeat 4 or 5 times.
  6. At the end, everyone is holding a piece of paper with points on it. The points have been assigned by random pairs of participants in quick discussion. Add the points up.
  7. Ask “Which ideas have over 25 points? Over 24? Over 23…?” The ideas with the most points are the coolest. Pick those, as many ideas paper as the number of teams you want to create.
  8. Ask the producers of those ideas to briefly pitch them in front of others. Then put the idea papers on tables or on walls around the room and invite participants to go around and chat. After 10–15 minutes they have to choose one idea and stay there—the pitchers can certainly choose other ideas if they like.
  9. Now check how the teams are composed and suggest some fine tuning—maybe a team is too small, has no designer, or perhaps an idea has no people: in this case try bringing in another paper idea which is very different from all others and substitute it …
  10. Tell all the teams they are free to modify or completely change the idea together, this was just a way to group like–minded people and to avoid the white–paper–syndrome of having nothing to discuss.

Here’s a video of one round of this activity.

< video >


  1. A big room—you need space.
  2. Fun music! We like ‘Yakety Sax’ from Benny Hill.
  3. Idea papers—any scrap paper will do—and pens—one for each participant.

Why: it’s a fun way to form teams that have something in common, and gives them a start towards a workable idea. It helps break the ice, and helps participants get to know each other, to not be stuck to their ideas (they have only held this paper for seconds, there is no ownership, no ego), to brainstorm and get in touch with different perspectives on the same topic.

When: after the Topic announcement.

You want to share your own successful team–forming tools… share them please!

Some Ideas for Team Forming    What do the Jammers Make? >


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