The Personal Maps activity from Jurgen Appelo’s Management 3.0 practices is a great way to lower the mental distance and create trust between teammates.
I facilitated this activity during a gathering of a distributed team. As a result of a big bang reorganisation, this team had to start from scratch as some team members got moved to other teams and new members joined. As the first step in the workshop, I explained to them the importance of knowing more about themselves and how this relates to creating trust between colleagues. After that, I introduced the personal map activity and presented them an example as shown in the picture below.
I also made it clear to everybody that it is completely up to each individual how much personal information they really want to share about themselves.
I let the team split up into pairs and encouraged them to pair up with somebody they don’t know yet. Each pair got a flip chart paper and a lot of colourful pens and while one person was sharing personal information about topics such as hobbies, family, values, travel etc., the partner was creating the map. This setup fostered quite some engaging conversations as the ones who were drawing got curious and started to ask questions.
Once the maps of each team members were created, it was time to present the results. The drawer introduced their partner and shared the three most surprising things they learned about his colleague, while he validated the information and completed some gaps. The other team members could also ask further questions about specific areas.
What I personally noticed while doing this activity with the team is how much this helped to get them more connected to each other. While I sensed some uncertainty, reluctance and distance to each other in the beginning, they seemed to be much more relaxed and open after the activity.
I think this is an excellent way to get to know each other on a more personal level and should have a fixed space in every agenda of a team kickoff workshop!