Icebreaker Game / Team Building Activity: “My Skills Club”

I created the following icebreaker game with an aim to get people talking to each other, and to also get people to talk about their own skills and the skills they share, which can be useful towards team building and staff self-awareness.  It’s fun, easy to prepare and provides useful outputs of lists of shared skills among participants. Alternatively, you could do the activity not about skills but about other shared characteristics, but skills makes sense for team building type workshops.

My Skills Club

Instructions to participants

  1. Silently write a list of your top three work related skills on a cue card.
  2. Wander around the room seeking individuals you have never met and ask them if they share any of your skills.
  3. If they don’t, smile and move on.
  4. If you do share at least one skill, you can now form a club. Together look for others to join your club who have the same shared skill.
  5. Skills can be worded slightly differently.  Skills should not be too generic e.g. “writing emails” or “making phone calls”.
  6. If you can find other individuals with two or three of the same skills, you can choose to break off and form a new more exclusive club.
  7. Goal is to form the largest club with the most shared skills.
  8. Clubs will get points for every club member x shared skills across the club. E.g.
    9 members with 1 shared skill = 9 points
    5 member with 2 shared skills = 10 points
    4 members with 3 shared skills = 12 points
  9. Countdown 5 minutes to finish.
  10. The Club with the most points gets chocolate for all members!


To help explain the process, I did a 1 minute demonstration with three accomplices with prepared cue cards.


It worked very well with lots of laughs and light hearted on topic conversations.


10 Question to Ask Before Starting a Public Consultation

Recently Joseph Peters (Partner at Ascentum)
and Joe Goldman (Vice President of Citizen Engagement at AmericaSpeaks)
published an excellent two page article called: Open Policy Making 101: 10 Questions
To Ask Before Launching Your Online Public Consultation

While their well thought out list is focused on online
consultation, the questions also apply to creating plans for effective offline
public consultations.

Here are their 10 questions:

  1. What
    do you want to know?
  2. What
    is your commitment to participants?
  3. Who
    needs to participate?
  4. How
    hot is the issue?
  5. What
    type of contribution are you looking for?
  6. What
    type of data will you collect and analyze?
  7. What
    are your timelines?
  8. What
    resources are available to support the process?
  9. How
    can participants stay involved?
  10. Which
    online tools should you use?

Read the full article for concise
explanations of each question.

Action Implementation Plan – a two page template

This is a simple one page (two-sided) form to help small groups to document a plan to get something done.

Sections included in the form are:

  • Name for the plan
  • Desired results to be achieved and strategies to
    be used
  • Key strengths, challenges, opportunities and
    threats (aka a SWOT analysis)
  • Contact information for team members
  • Timeline of important tasks and major milestones

This simple template can help focus ad-hoc teams and give concrete outcomes to open space conferences. I hope you find it useful!

Download the Action Implementation Plan form PDF_v1 (PDF)

Consensus Decision-Making Workshop Matierials

On September 29th 2009, my self and Simone Arsenault-May presented an evening workshop for parents at the Grove Community School, a new alternative school part of the Toronto District School Board.

This workshop focused on teaching the basics of a consensus process that uses cooperative dialogue. It also covered techniques for an efficient council and tools for effective community engagement.


Attachment Size
Consensus Decision-Making Workshop Handout v3.pdf 114.14 KB

A Public Involvement in Decision Making Toolkit

Back in 2000 Health Canada published an excellent resource called The Health Canada Policy Toolkit for Public Involvement in Decision Making.
It is a complete toolkit with guidelines, about 50 techniques described in concise details and with useful suggestions, and also case studies and references. I highly recommend it as a definitive reference on the various options for effective public engagement within the Canadian context. You can access other free resources in my links section.

Visualize information to make it accessible

Public consultation and engagement requires a two-way flow of communication between the proponent (the organization doing the consultation) and the public. The public needs to have information presented in a way that is easy to understand and this can be done, in part, by using good visuals. I recommend the booklet “Visualizing Information for Advocacy: An Introduction to Information Design” as a good resource to review before creating your public information materials. It’s written for NGOs who do advocacy, but the suggestions apply just as well to public consultations.

A great guide to public consultation

I recently found this manual…


By Peter Sterne with Sandra Zagon

I am finding it very useful for planning public consultations required for environmental assements. The detailed Roadmap Model gives 51 key steps one should carry out to conduct a successful public participation process. Written in 1997 it’s a bit out of date in terms of more conteporary approaches, such as the use of online tools, but it is still very worth while and insightful for consultants and government folks in Canada and beyond. Pass it on!

Attachment Size
public consultation guide 1997.pdf 2.65 MB

An excellent list of governance dialogue techniques

Thanks to Alice Byers of ISEALl Alliance for a link to, which lists a wide variety of descriptions and resources for planning and managing governance dialogue. Visit

Below I have copied their links to various governance dialogue options…

Broad-based Stakeholder Advisory Panels

Centralized Enabling Agencies

Citizens’ juries

Consensus conferences

Deliberative polls


Focus groups

Input accountability

National Issues Forums

Online Dialogue/Public Forums

Participatory Budgeting


Scenario Workshops

Town Meetings

Learning and Design Forum


Q Methodology

Managerial Toolkit Inventory


I have added this link to my links section. 

A Positive Review of “The Community Planning Handbook”

Community Planning Handbook coverAn excellent resource for conducting citizen consultation and engagement into neighbourhood development.

The Community Planning Handbook:
How people can shape their cities, town and villages in any part of the world.
by Nick Wates.
Published by Earthscan Publications Limited, 2000.

This book is the A-Z of community lead local planning. It includes 200 pages of concise and clearly explained principles, methods, example scenarios, forms, check lists, a glossary, contacts and other incredibly useful how-to resources. This manual is very useful for urban planning consultants, progressive municipal authorities and communities leaders that want to ensure the voice of the people who will be affected by local construction are part of the decision making process. Nick Wates writes from a perspective of real world experience with lots of practical tips for situations that vary from ideal community owned projects to last minute public consultation in a traditional city planing process.

This manual is designed to be easily searched for ideas and practical direction in planning and organizing events, managing processes and establishing organizations to involve and empower citizens to give informed direction to the designs and implementation of changes to the architecture in their communities. The text is written from a UK perspective although there is considerable effort made to include photos and context from other nations, especially from rural villages in places like China, India, Fiji, Kenya and the Philippines. Jeremy Brook’s graphical design is very user friendly with hundreds of illustrative photos, diagrams, time lines and information boxes.

Although “The Community Planning Handbook” is written within a limited scope of physical planning and design for villages, towns and cities, many of the principles, methods and suggestions are still applicable to other situations of participatory planning, such as public policy and organizational change. If you want to help manage organization and community efforts that are bottom-up, buy this book and keep it on your desk.