Building networks and bridges: Creating positive cross team relationships

Almost every team has the opportunity to collaborate and work with other teams. While working collaboratively can be incredibly rewarding, it can also introduce many challenges. Agile frameworks help us to create teams that are self-sustaining; teams that can typically complete their work independent of external resources. When that's not possible, whether it's due to integrations or other factors, it is important to create healthy, working relationships with the people or teams we interact with. This is often easier said than done. This interactive workshop will explore some of the key challenges of working with other teams and attendees will learn two games that can help teams accelerate their learning curve on how they can help themselves be more successful with the teams they collaborate with. Join us to learn some fun ways how to build bridges across teams and build networks across your organization to foster positive collaboration.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

  1. Intro (2 mins)
  2. Interactive brainstorming session of challenges when multiple teams have to work together and what helps them over come those challenges (10-15 mins)
  3. Game: Social Network (3 minute intro, 12 min game)
    • Each attendee draws an avatar of themselves with their name and puts it on a big sheet of paper
    • Attendee's introduce themselves to other attendees and find things the have in common (Foods they like, languages they speak, people they know, music they like, where they work, code they use, types of software they work with, tools they are familiar with, what they are experts in etc)
    • With each person they meet they find something in common, draw a line to each other that connects them and labels it with what they have in common
    • This will result in a huge web of lines and people
    • Debrief (10 mins):
      • Conversation: How could this be helpful with teams that will do work together?
        • Examples:
          • Start to a cheat sheet of who they may be able to go to for what as they work together, creates a map of ambient knowledge, breaks down barriers, helps makes other teams "human" and like them instead of "the other team"
        • When else could you use this game besides when you're bringing two teams together?
        • As a facilitator, how could you use the out the network they created with the team post exercise?
  4. Game: Building Bridges (3 min intro): After the social network game, teams have broken the ice and now it's time to help them come to conclusions about what will help them work better together
    • Split the teams into two teams mixing the groups
    • Provide materials such as straws, sticks, legos, paper, cardboard, tape, glue, etc to build a bridge
    • The instructions to the group are that they have up to ten minutes to create half of a bridge. The other team will create the other half of the bridge. The goal is to have one complete bridge at the end of the ten minutes. The teams can do anything they'd like to to collaborate, except look at each other's work.
    • Round 1 (8 mins)
    • Retro: Each bridge building team does a retro separately on what they could do better next time (3 mins)
    • Round 2 (8 mins)
    • Retro: The two teams together do a retro on what they could do better next time (3 mins)
    • Round 3 (8 mins)
  5. Bridge Debrief and closing conversation(10 mins)
      • What did we learn?
        • Examples: Communication, proximity, documentation, check ins, etc
        • What came out of the conversations during retro. Which retro worked better? Could we do retros across teams?
        • As facilitators, what would we hope to get from this exercise?
        • What could the two teams do with the learnings from this game to help how they work together.
        • When else could you use this game besides when you're bringing two teams together?
    1. Call to action: How could you put these games into action with your teams? (2 mins)

Learning Outcome

  • Attendees will be able to facilitate 2 games to foster better cross-team collaboration
  • Attendees will be able to identify the right opportunities to use these games
  • Attendees will be able to use the outcome of the games in a practical application post facilitation of the exercise

Target Audience

ScrumMasters, Managers, team members who work with other teams

Prerequisites for Attendees


schedule Submitted 11 months ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Matt Carlson
    By Matt Carlson  ~  11 months ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Erica - Thanks for taking the time to submit a session to Agile Games 2019!  You've done a really good job breaking down your session for us.  One question I have is about the room requirements because our venue has a few restrictions we need to be mindful of.  If I'm reading them right, it sounds like you will need 4 tables, one table near each wall of the room, as well as a mobile whiteboard to divide the room in half.  

    1. Could your session work if the tables in the room were setup in pods (two small rectangular tables joined together along the long side of the table)?

    2. Could your session work if there were more than 4 tables in the room (~6 tables), and the extra tables couldn't be moved?

    3. I'm not 100% sure that we have a mobile whiteboard.  I will inquire with our team about this.