Workshop Start working with Roles

Start working with Roles

This easy-to-follow guide will help you to organize a workshop for your team. You will create and assign roles and list responsibilities.

In this workshop, your team will:

After this workshop, your team is ready to start working with Roles.


Team Workshop

90 - 120 minutes

  1. Introduction

    2 minutes

    This workshop is a first step towards working with Roles as a team. Working with Roles is not complicated, just a little different. We illustrate each step in the workshop with an example.

  2. Set a mission

    10 - 15 minutes


    Oliver is looking for a summer project. He decides he wants to go to the moon. Of course, he cannot do that alone, so he invites his best friends to form a team. They call the team Moonshot. Together they declare their team mission: "Put a man on the moon."

    Set a team mission in Role-up

    What is your team's mission?

    Take 1 minute to think about the aim of the team.

    • What is the reason this team exists?
    • What do we want to achieve as a team?
    • What is our mission?

    Ask one team member to write her version of the team mission in Role-up. Other team members can suggest improvements.


    When refining your team mission, ensure that it is factually achievable by the team. Elements outside the team's influence should not be part of your mission. The team mission should be something the team can accomplish independently. As short as possible, as long as it needs to be.

  3. Define the team's most crucial work

    15 - 20 minutes


    Oliver and his team decide that if they want to put a man on the moon, there are things they need to do. They have to:

    1. Build a spacecraft that can fly to the moon.
    2. Fly their spacecraft to the moon.
    3. Make a lunar selfie.

    They write these chunks of work down in Role-up.

    Create core Roles in Role-up

    What big chunks of work does your team need to do to reach its mission?

    • Envision the success of the mission. What does the situation look like where the team achieved its mission?
    • What has to happen to get there? What work has to be done by the team to reach this future success?
    • Write down 2 or 3 essential chunks of work the team needs to do between today and successfully achieving the team mission. Use one post-it for each piece. Keep it short.

    In turn: Read out loud what you wrote on your post-its. Read without explanations. The others listen without comment.

    Based on what you heard, you (as a workshop facilitator) propose the three most essential chunks of work. For each one, you create a Role in Role-up (by clicking on the (+) icon beneath the team mission). Type the chunk in the field labeled 'Goal.' Leave the other input fields empty for now.

    Remember that it doesn't have to be perfect. Focus on speed and consensus rather than precise wording. These three proposed chunks are a starting point. You will refine them as a team.

    Congratulations! You defined the three most important things you need to do as a team. There are your first Roles. Let's give them a name.

  4. Name your Roles

    5 minutes


    Oliver and his friends add a catchy title to each chunk of work. They choose to call them: "Rocket Engineer," "Pilot," and "Moonwalker." The names make it easier to talk about the chunks of work. And who doesn't want to be a Rocket Engineer?

    Name your Roles in Role-up

    For each Role in Role-up, ask one team member to add a title in Role-up. When the three titles are on the board, do a quick round of suggestions to improve the clarity. Keep it brief, and try not to overthink it.

  5. Choose your Role

    5 minutes


    Oliver and his friends conclude that building a rocket is a lot of work. They decide to delegate the Role of Rocket Engineer to 3 persons: Oliver, Alex, and Anna.
    Jules will be the Pilot. And since this will put him inside the spacecraft, he can also fill the Role of Moonwalker.

    Choose your Role in Role-up
    Roles delegated in Role-up

    As you see, a team can delegate a Role to multiple persons. And it is possible to fill more than one Role for your team or organization.


    So how will you contribute to your team's mission? On which of the core Roles do you work?

    • Pick the Role that you will mainly work on
    • Click on the pencil icon on the Role
    • Assign yourself to the Role

    Assign yourself to all Roles where you contribute significantly. If you do not contribute to a core Role, that's no problem. Additional Roles will be added later in the workshop.

  6. List essential responsibilities per Role

    15 - 20 minutes


    Jules will fill the Role of Pilot. That means he will be responsible for that part of the team's work. But what exactly is "that part"? They decide to write down what a Pilot's exact responsibilities are. They do this for all the Roles.
    Now Jules knows precisely what the others expect from a Pilot. And he can take all decisions and actions necessary to fulfill the Role.

    List responsibilities per Role in Role-up

    The list of a Role's responsibilities is dynamic. The team will add and edit responsibilities regularly. Today we focus on listing the three most important responsibilities.

    Together, 5 minutes per Role

    The team members NOT filling this Role discuss what they think are the crucial responsibilities. They add their top 3 to the Role in Role-up.


    Make a quick round to check if the writing is clear to everyone. Rephrase responsibilities if necessary to remove unclarity or ambiguity.


    Write your responsibilities in a format that starts with a verb that ends on -ing. Each responsibility is an activity that needs doing (hence a verb) and is continuous.
    Avoid words such as "Enforcing," "Ensuring," "Approving," "Overseeing," etc. Accountabilities starting with those words usually indicate an attempt to control someone else's work.

  7. Add some support

    5 - 10 minutes


    Oliver has some things he knows he needs to do outside the work of the Role of Rocket Engineer. For example, he needs to reassure his neighbors and tell them he and his friends will build a space rocket in the backyard. Hardly a task for a Rocket Engineer.
    The team creates a dedicated Role for all additional work supporting their mission. For now, Oliver will fill this support Role.

    Add a support Role in Role-up

    Does your team need a supporting Role? Are their team members that are not assigned to any Role yet? If so, create a new Role and assign the responsible team members. As with the other Roles, ask the members NOT filling this Role to capture the contribution to the team's mission in responsibilities. It is ok to have a wide range of responsibilities for this Role. You can split this Role into more coherent work packages in the next session.

  8. Plan for success

    5 minutes


    Oliver wants to start with the design of the thrusters. Anna and Alex can't wait to get started with some online research for webshops that sell Rocket parts. And Jules is hungry and needs a sandwich.
    They know their Roles are not complete yet. And as they go, they will probably come across a few things that need doing but are not on anyone's list. So they decide to meet every Monday to discuss how they work together. Alex will see to it that everyone will be at the meetings. He will also research how to run a quick and smooth governance meeting.
    They create a fifth Role for this work: the Facilitator.

    Add a facilitator Role in Role-up

    Who will be your team's Facilitator?
    Create a facilitator Role, list the primary responsibilities and decide who will fill this Role.


    Try to fit a recurring governance meeting in an existing pattern of retrospective or planning meetings. Embedding governance meetings in a current routine makes it easier for the team to get comfortable with Roles fast.
    For teams just starting with Roles, a weekly meeting is advisable. Once your team gets more comfortable, and Roles become more stable and sharply defined, you can lower the frequency of the governance meetings.

    The Facilitator can find more on governance meetings and their frequency in this article: Working with Roles as a team.

    A workshop template for a governance meeting can be found here: Run an effective governance meeting.

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