Workshop Exercises: Understand

Market of Skills

Let each member share how they and others can contribute to team effort

Illustration of Market of Skills
Run a Market of Skills play

Also called: Skills Market

Timing: Planning

Run time
60-90 minutes

Group size

Why: Let team members share their skills and capabilities to promoting a sense of value and appreciation for diversity

When: Use when forming a new team or as a team-building activity to reinforce collaboration and strengthen team dynamics

This workshop exercise is part of the Workshop Patterns printed card deck.

A collection of workshop exercises that will help you ditch dull meetings and facilitate with confidence. It will help you master the design process and have more productive time with your team. The card deck will be ready for purchase in the end of 2023 and is now undergoing rigorous testing.

Reserve your deck!

Identify and share your unique skills

In the “Market of Skills” exercise, each team member identifies and shares their unique skills with the rest of the team. This exercise encourages open discussion and knowledge sharing within the team, allowing them to better understand each other’s capabilities and interests.

How does it work?

First, each person is given time for self-reflection, where they jot down their skills, ranging from professional expertise, like proficiency in Java, to personal talents, such as cooking. Each member then creates a poster showcasing their skills.

The team then tours the “market” with each member briefly explaining their skills. Afterwards, each person individually revisits the posters, noting down skills from others that they find useful or intriguing.

Next comes the creation of a “mesh” representing the team’s interconnected needs. Using a rope, a person will present one end to another whose skill they value, creating a visual link between them. This continues until all members have taken their turn.

What’s the outcome?

This exercise offers a visual representation of the team’s communication, needs, and interdependencies. It can reveal surprising insights about the team’s perception of different roles and individuals within the team. For instance, a team might value the manager more for resolving organizational challenges rather than for their technical skills.

The “Market of Skills” exercise also stimulates conversations that are socially oriented rather than purely work-related. If a tangible result is desired, retrospective actions can be noted, but the core purpose of the activity is to foster open dialogue.

Watch out for

Pay attention to individuals who physically separate themselves during the exercise or those who show reluctance to engage with others’ skills. These signs may indicate feelings of exclusion or other interpersonal issues within the team. It’s also worth noting that this exercise is intended to facilitate open conversations and insights rather than producing a specific document or table.

Instructions for running this play

  1. Kick off with an initial discussion about the purpose of the team, characteristics of the work performed, customers, stakeholders.
  2. Conduct a Poster Session, asking each participant to draw their own market selling knowledge, competencies, know-how, and experiences with room for three sections, Timeboxing it to 20 minutes.
    • Current skills (relevant to team goal)
    • Hidden skills (not directly relevant, but still worth mentioning)
    • Desired skills (would like to learn from other team members)

      Encourage participants to get creative, reminding them that their design is not under judgment

  3. Let each participant Playback their design while the other participants write down feedback in the following categories on sticky notes:
    • ★ I am happy that you offer this to the team (green sticky note)
    • ❗️ You did not mention this, but I know you can also offer this
    • ❓ This is how I can offer to help you
  4. Finish the workshop reflecting on what you have learned. Good questions are:
    • “When you look at this wall, with all the charts of skills and all the feedback hanging there, what do you then think about yourself as a team?”
    • “What are you capable of doing as a team?”
    • “How can you use this information in your daily work?”

Consider transitioning into a Skills Star Map workshop.

Tips to perfect this play

Master and adapt the play to fit your context and needs.

Tip: Skills Auction

Let team members bid on the skills they find most valuable, fostering a sense of excitement and engagement.

Tip: Skills Exchange Fair

Organize a skills exchange fair where team members can trade their skills or offer their expertise to help others in areas where they need support.

Want to learn more?

Receive a hand picked list of the best reads on building products that matter every week. Curated by Anders Toxboe. Published every Tuesday.

No spam! Unsubscribe with a single click at any time.

Ice Breakers

Relieve initial group awkwardness and establish a safe space

Community events
Product Loop

Product Loop provides an opportunity for Product professionals and their peers to exchange ideas and experiences about Product Design, Development and Management, Business Modelling, Metrics, User Experience and all the other things that get us excited.

Join our community

Made with in Copenhagen, Denmark

Want to learn more about about good product development, then browse our product playbooks.