Teambuilding tips for diverse, rapidly changing teams

This fall I was honored to lead a session about teambuilding at TEDGlobal Tanzania for a group of fellow TEDx organizers. I believe that their ideas and experiences are ‘worth spreading’, especially because TEDx teams have some specific characteristics and challenges.

What makes a TEDx team interesting to look into? TEDx teams are often more diverse and change faster than average. Furthermore, they usually consist largely of volunteers and of course you have to translate a global brand to your local community. These characteristics affect teambuilding, continuity, knowledge management and quality assurance.

The TEDx-ers in these ‘TEDGlobal sessions’ shared their most crucial learnings and I try to summarize them in this article.

Me (Lonnie Holders) briefing the TEDx crew for a big conference. Marketing communication communicatie comunicazione






1.Start with setting expectations about TED, TEDx and working in a TEDx team. How? Organize an interactive session with the team to write a clear and shared why how what (like Simon Sinek states in his TED talk). Ow….and don’t forget to cross check with the mission of TED 😉

Translate your why, how, what (also with the team not without them) into:

2.Targets, then break up the targets into;

3.Tasks and responsibilities (on team and personal level)

4.Then think about which Procedures you need. Yes it sounds horrible ‘procedures’, but you need some structures and conditions for your work, your planning, etc.

5.Agreements about how you want to work together (like communications, meetings, feedback, etc.). Take for example feedback. Feedback needs to be part of your work process continuously. Both positive and critical feedback. Discuss with your team how to organize feedback in a way that makes it safe to give and receive. Try to also agree on how you will organize ‘help’ for each other in case of problems. A weekly scrum or stand-up might work. A more informal way is also fine: just sit together with a coffee and share the issues that you were not able to solve. Make a plan together to help and execute it the same day;

6.Competences; decide what skills you need and think about how to assure continuity in a team that changes very regularly. For example: Organize skill building / knowledge exchange sessions (with the team). This could be a different theme every month, organized or lead by an expert of your team or maybe a fellow tedx-er Another idea I liked a lot is to organize a group of external (professional) mentors that have a specific expertise and are connected to the team of volunteers. Like a special partnership that allows you to tap into the knowledge and experience of others when needed. Shadowing: every crucial expertise within the team needs to have a backup / vice!

7.Make sure that all the above is known and monitored within the team, not just by you as the team lead / licensee. It’s a bit of an open door but somehow often forgotten.

8.Have fun!

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