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Creative Twist: Off the Wall Team Roles


This is first in a series of quick and easy creative ways to add a new “twist” to common activities in a development context. Andy Rankin looks at the Belbin Team Roles Model.

The Belbin Team Roles Model has to be one of the most widely used tools in the field of team development. It has the useful output of exploring what roles are necessary for effective teamwork. From the assessment an individual learns about their own preferences and can explore where a team’s strengths and weaknesses in line with the Belbin’s role categories.

Let’s imagine a group that has been “Belbined” before and as a facilitator you want to come at the topic from a similar but different angle.

Learning objectives for the session are:
1. Introduce the importance of team roles in effective teamwork
2. Group activity to create unique Team Role categories
3. Individual analysis of preferred role/s
4. Team analysis of strengths and weaknesses
5. Action plan to take forward improvement in team activity
6. Group to have fun and utilise creative thinking
7. Create common language for exploring team effectiveness

Possible Activities:
Flip chart brainstorm of activities that any team needs to have in place in order to be effective. Ideas such as having a strong leader, planning, research, creativity etc. - it is possible that some of the Belbin role categories will emerge if people have been on a team training event before.

Group task to create unique list of roles and attributes using metaphors such as traditional jobs or everyday items.

For example traditional jobs might yield a list such as:

  • Job - possible attribute

  • Milkman - early starter to get things going

  • Builder - builds solid foundations to work on

  • Counsellor - good listening to resolve problems

  • Painter and Decorator - works in a methodical way to get something done

  • Artist - see things in a new light. Will challenge the status quo

  • Architect - blueprints and plan to follow

  • Personal Shopper - finding the things that you want but can’t find yourself
  • Random everyday items might yield:
    Item - Possible attribute

  • Dog lead - brings individual back in line when necessary

  • Washing machine - goes round and round covering all angles and ensuring a tidy finish

  • Tape Measure - accuracy for quality control

  • JCB - can push past perceived barriers and remove obstacles

  • Metal detector - hunts around looking for solutions and new ideas (unseen treasures)
  • Then:
    1. Individuals draw up list of personal attributes (strengths) in line with metaphor and this is shared in the group.
    2. Group analyses any gaps in its role performance.
    3. Action plan to cover gaps.


    • Team work involved to creating new model.

    • Creative thinking process used to bring fresh insights to what might be a “tired” topic.

    • Self and group reflection provides an easy way to explore activities that may be missing in the team environment e.g. the fact that not enough planning takes place, a completer finisher role may be missing or that there are too many ideas and not enough doing!

    • Fun and memorable.

    About the authorAndy Rankin is a director of Creative Metier Limited an executive mentoring consultancy. The business has developed an online interactive software tool that utilises creative processes to support people explore their long term future direction. This has applications for leadership and personal development, coaching / mentoring support, restructuring and career transition scenarios. [email protected].


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