Sample Agenda- Understanding What We Are Doing Together

Take a look at the Understanding what we are doing together Overview.

Sample Agenda: Understanding What We Are Doing Together

Time Needed:  120-140 minutes
Purpose:  For participants to begin to identify the steps they need to take to work together effectively
Materials: Pen/paper for individual notes
Sticky notes for each person
Flipchart/whiteboard for taking group notes
Set-up: Wall space for sticky notes

Session Introduction (10 minutes)

Note: Some of these may not be applicable if you are working remotely

  • Welcome to the session
  • Location of the bathrooms
  • Nearest emergency/fire exit
  • Overview of agenda
  • Goals for the session

Select your opening prompt

Here are some prompts that have been successfully used for understanding what we are doing together:

  • Create images of the present and future
  • What skills do I bring to the table?
  • What does the problem/task/challenge look like?
  • In the context of task/team/session, what does success look like?
  • How can we make a difference?

Starting the Conversation (30 minutes)

2 minutes for instruction
6 minutes for creating images
20 minutes for sharing

Ask participants to quickly go through their image sets to find pictures that speak to the question:

  • What does our team’s work look like now? What might it look like in the future (state when)? (or alternative selection)

Adjust the prompt to fit an appropriate time-line for the group.

There are no rules about how participants can go about this part of the process. They can select as few or as many photos as they wish, and assemble them any way they wish on the computer screen in front of them. The only limitation is time; they should finish selecting and arranging their images within six minutes.

Next, ask participants to share a brief story of their images. Be sure to tell them how long you have planned for everyone to complete this part of the process, so they can get a sense of how much time each person has to share.

As each person shares, ask participants to listen carefully and notice how people describe the work of the team.

Deepening the Conversation (40 minutes)

Includes 10-minute break

Note: If your subscription doesn’t include doing group images, skip this section.

After everyone has a chance to tell their story, ask the group to make one image together that show’s what the groups work as a whole looks like now and what they’d like it to look like in the future.

Ask the participants to pay attention to the process of creating the team image as well as the result. They can use one person’s deck of images, some of the same images they used individually, or new ones. The only rule is to make sure that everyone gets to participate in the process.

Narrowing the Conversation (30 minutes)

Includes 10-minute break

Note: Depending on your conference system, you may have to adapt this section if you are working remotely.

Ask the group to discuss, and list on the flipchart or whiteboard, what they would like to bring forward from now, what they want to leave behind, and what steps they need to take to move from now toward the desired future. Ask
questions such as:

  • What are we choosing?
  • What is the most important piece?
  • What are the key points?
  • What can we do to be more effective?
  • What factors influence our next steps?

Assessing the Conversation (10 minutes)

Ask the group to discuss what they believe will support them in this process and what might hold them back.  Ask questions such as:

  • Are we ready to take the next steps?
  • What moves us toward action?
  • Did we surface new questions that need to be asked?
  • Do we need more information?

Applying the Conversation (30 minutes)

Ask the participants to discuss what the next steps are that they can take to move toward their desired future. Depending on how much time you have, this can be done as a detailed action plan for each person, or as a more general overview for the group. Either way, be sure to consider current workloads and what might have to be put aside to accommodate new tasks.

Make a list of commitments to be copied for distribution to the group. Ask how they are going to follow up to make sure that the commitments are kept.

Debriefing the Conversation (10 minutes)

The debriefing section is where you help the group pull together everything they have done. It is a critical step and worth every minute invested.
Ask questions such as:

  • What did you notice about this process?
  • Did you gain any insights?
  • Was anything particularly interesting or surprising?
  • What are you taking away?

Closing (5 minutes)

At the end of the session, provide guidance to the participants about how to carry the work forward after the session.


Building Great Teams is also available in a printed version.