Facilitation: Team’s Strengths

First part of the workshop is used to discover team’s strengths. Second part of the workshop is used to figure out how those strengths could help in solving team’s current problems. You can do this workshop in 45-90 minutes. This retro facilitation technique is modified from an idea by my colleague Turjo Tuohiniemi.

Part 1: Discover Team’s Strengths

Start by individually listing successes you have had as a team lately. What has gone well for you?

Map those successes to a board so that most important ones are higher on the board. Do this pretty quickly, without going to lot of detail right now. Cases should be familiar enough to everyone. Order the items only roughly, it doesn’t have to be exact.

Then start to go through the items from top. Timebox this part to e.g. 15 or 20 minutes. Together with team, discuss two questions for each success:

  • What did we actually do to make this happen?
  • What strengths and skills we have as a team or as individuals that contributed to the success?

List the strengths that come up on a separate flip chart. Go through as many as you can in the given timebox, and then have a short reflection on list of strengths you have now collected. What patterns you see? What strengths are the key contributors to your successes?

Part 2: Use Team’s Strengths to Solve Current Problems

Ask team members to list one or two problems you have had lately, that are either unsolved or are very likely to repeat again. Do this individually. After couple of minutes, collect all the problems to a flip chart, again sorting most important ones to the top. Spend a while grouping and prioritizing the items. If needed, use dot voting or some other method to prioritize.

When you have chosen the most important ones (e.g. top two), go through them one at a time, asking following questions:

  • Which team or individual skills or strengths we could use to solve this problem?
  • What we could do or do more often to start to tackle this problem?

Timebox handling of each problem to e.g. 15 minutes, and don’t try to go through more than two. Set couple of concrete actions based on your discovered strengths, and follow-up on these in the next retro.

This technique worked very well for my team, bringing focus to the actual ways in which we as a team get stuff done and using them right away with some other topics! It might be also worthwhile to have those strengths visible somewhere, to remind about those also when things feel difficult.

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