How to build an effective team

Want to build a strong and dependable team? The goal is to build a effective team with strong communication and collaboration skills. The Become Dependable recipe is a curated set of four Team Tactics designed to help you understand your team’s complex web of connections.

🧠  Learn how to…

✔️ match your team’s work to the benefit it provides your customers/users to improve collaboration

✔️ have better conversations and share responsibilities

✔️ communicate who is responsible for what

✔️ spend more time on high-value work

🃏 Cards used…
⏱ How much time?…

You can complete the Become Dependable recipe as a series of three to five shorter meetings spread over a few days, or power through it in one day, for example with 2 hours before lunch and 2 hours after lunch.

✨ Extra reading…

👀 Let’s walk through this recipe using an example: A recruitment agency building their online platform (website) with a team of designers, engineers and project managers.


Use Team Modelling to set up your team


Time: 1.5 hours

🧠 Core Objective: set up your team around common experiences.

The Team Modelling tactic enables you to map your team’s tasks to the customer experiences they support, breaking down silos to improve your services and products.


💡 Tip: look for projects/areas that encourage cross-discipline collaboration like design system work (designer, developers, content designers, user researchers). This helps break down silos.


  1. Gather a list of your end users’ top tasks relating to your product or service, one per sticky note. (10 minutes)

  2. Repeat Step 1 for your team’s top tasks. (10 minutes)

  3. Discuss and Theme Sort the tasks  according to the role of the person involved. For example, a user searching for a product could be a ‘buyer’. Somebody adding a product to the website could be a ‘seller’. (20 minutes)

  4. Create a row on your workspace for each user and add the sticky notes so that they align across users for elements that apply to multiple people, as shown: (30 minutes)

  5. Review your map and iterate until you have every customer journey – and associated task – covered. (20 minutes)

The final diagram shows you where your work and your customers’ journeys overlap, as well as highlighting areas where different members of your team should be collaborating.

⬇️ In the next tactic, you will use the user experience types (Buyer, Seller, etc.) to form Team Circles, so that everyone involved in a task can share their input – before it’s too late.


Use Team Circles to have better conversations


Time: 1 hour

🧠 Core Objective: create smaller teams to break down silos, have better conversations and shared responsibility.

The Team Circles tactic enables you to create ‘teams within teams’ to build rapport and share responsibility. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos famously instituted a rule: every internal team should be small enough that it can be fed with two pizzas. A smaller team spends less time keeping people up to date, and more time doing what needs to be done.


💡 Tip: make your Team Circles visible to others to encourage collaboration.


  1. Invite your team and others who help you ‘connect the dots’ in your workplace. (do before meeting)

  2. Draw three concentric circles and label them: Informed (outer ring), Involved, Core team (inner circle). (10 minutes)

  3. Using the following prompts, add names to the diagram: (40 minutes)

    Core team

    • Up to nine multidisciplinary team members with a shared goal.

    • Communication: daily.

    • For example: designers, engineers, project managers.

      Involved team

    • Up to 12 people from multiple teams who bring specialist knowledge as needed.

    • Communication: as needed, with regular progress updates.

    • For example: subject matter experts.

      Informed team

    • Up to 24 people who connect the dots across the organisation.

    • Communication: every two weeks, and for changes in direction.

    • For example: leadership team, steering groups.

      ⬇️ In the next tactic you will use Roles & Responsibilities to define clear responsibilities.


Use Roles & Responsibilities to learn who does what


Time: 1 hour

🧠 Core Objective: better understand each others’ roles, and learn who is responsible for what.

The Roles & Responsibilities tactic helps you define clear responsibilities to prevent confusion around hierarchy and remit. This tactic reduces duplicate work and promotes better collaboration.


💡 Tip: make sure your team is up to date with active listening.


  1. On your workspace, create a column for each discipline within the team. For example: Designer, Developer and Product Owner. (3 minutes)

  2. Create three rows: Do, Discuss, Decide. (2 minutes)

  3. On sticky notes, ask each person to answer the following questions for the person to their left:(10 minutes)

    Do: what are the core activities of their discipline?
    Discuss: what do they discuss with the wider team?
    Decide: what are they responsible for deciding?

  4. In turn – stick up, share and discuss what has been written down. (5 minutes)

  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4, but this time with the participant’s own discipline to create clarity. (15 minutes)

  6. As a group, move, refine and add sticky notes until everyone is happy with their roles and responsibilities. (15 minutes)

    ⬇️ In the next tactic you will make a Productivity Blueprint to identify inefficiencies and opportunities to improve workflow.


Use Productivity Blueprint to spend more time on high-value work


Time: 45 minutes

🧠 Core Objective: spend more time on high-value work, and less time on low-value tasks.

The Productivity Blueprint tactic helps you identify inefficiencies and opportunities to improve workflow. Are your team spending an obscene amount of time trying to recruit people for usability sessions? Or constantly changing the shade of blue that is used? Inefficiencies naturally creep in over time. Help bring visibility and attention to prevent frustrations.

💡 Tip: at the end of tactic, dig into a task you want to improve with Task Modelling.


Choose a common workflow, such as Create a new product feature or Update an existing web page. Draw three rows (with space below for a fourth) on your shared workspace and fill in each one as follows. (45 minutes)

  • Tasks: the steps your team takes in a typical scenario. For example: read project brief, attend a kick-off meeting, attend research session.
  • People: the job titles of the people involved in each step. For example: user researcher, delivery manager, product owner.
  • Tools: the tools that are used for each step. For example: Outlook, Miro, Figma

Title the fourth row ‘Ideas‘ and – together – review the map and write down opportunities to improve each element of the workflow. Structure your ideas in ‘What can we…” sentences.

⬇️ In the next tactic you will use Agile Comms to help your team communicate clearly. 


What next?


Congratulations you have completed the Build an Effective Team recipe! You have now built a strong and effective team based on understanding. 

Now you’ve understood your team’s complex web of connections, you can save time and energy by making sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and why with How to Align with your Purpose recipe.

Do you have questions, tips or tricks, etc? Join our Slack community of over 13,000 professionals.

1 thought on “How to build an effective team”

  1. Wow! Thank you. This Guide really helped me (and my team) understand our team’s complex web of connections, which has noticably improved our work culture and mutual understanding since. The examples were super helpful too.


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