Picking a darn good team

by Alex Bruton

Referring to this?

1. Introduction

Have you ever had to do group work? Ever hate it? I have.

I always despised group work at school if I couldn’t choose the team myself and even then it was still a bit like rolling the dice unless I knew the other people and we had complementary skills and common interests.

I teach students and work with clients forming entrepreneurial teams and I recommend this super simple tool to help you get it right (or make it darn good anyway). It might be given to you as part of an organized activity in a class you’re taking, or you might choose to use it when forming your own team in a new startup company or for a new project in corporate setting. Either way, it can make a pretty big difference to the success of your team despite being pretty basic. And it can help improve the personal creativity of your team members.

2. The form

Here’s the form itself:

To access for free...

The “picking a darn good team” form (two-sided PDF)

3. Directions

Although it’s pretty easy to use and there are several ways one can go about it, here’s a basic approach. The same directions are provided on the back of the form itself:

  1. Give it some thought and fill in the front side of this form. (Don’t over-think it though.)
  2. Do not fill in your name! (It’s better if people don’t know whose card they’re looking at.)
  3. Only fill in things you’re comfortable sharing and make sure what you do share represents you the way you want to be seen.
  4. Gather all of the forms (yours and your colleagues’) and shuffle them.
  5. Circulate the forms among your colleagues so everyone gets to see all of them – you may be given additional directions for this step.
  6. As you read each, if you see someone you think you might like to work with then write your name on the back of their form in the space provided.
  7. When you’ve had a chance to see everyone else’s form, retrieve your own.
  8. Go find – and talk to – the people whose names are on the back of your form.
  9. Form a darn good team!

Of course, this process filters out the people you might not want to work with (or can’t work with due to scheduling constraints) and helps identify people with complementary skills and resources.

Educators can find more guidance for using this form under the Educator Acess tab (above).


The idea for this tool was helped along by three other resources, in chronological order:

  • An activity called Founder’s Day presented at USASBE 2012 by John Pearlstein from the Richard Stockton College of NJ
  • A team formation concept that Toni Guffei came up with while we were teaching together in the 2011/2012 semester;
  • My own experience developing and delivering the Who the Heck Are You? topic

I am grateful for all of these experiences.

Educator access

The teaching notes for this topic contain an 8.5×11 PDF that has two forms per sheet (for printing purposes):

To access for free...

The “picking a darn good team” form (two per sheet, two-sided PDF)

They also contains a modified version of the form that doesn’t include the outside of class time schedule – for situations where students aren’t expected to work on things outside of class time.

It’s completely free to use all of the digital material at theinnographer.com for non-commercial purposes (learn more here on why this is, and be sure to review our Privacy and terms of use page.)

It’s also free for educators to access the teaching notes for non-commercial purposes and to support their teaching. We use exactly the same approach as Harvard Business Publishing for gaining educator access.

If you already have educator access to theinnographer.com then just sign in again (at the bottom right side of this page).

No problem if you don’t. Here’s how to request access:

How to request educator access
(opens in a new window)

Like all content on this site, this is available completely for free. Just hit the big blue button found in the “Access the Toolkit” section at the bottom right side of this page. (And check out the “Why is it free?” tab here to learn more about why we make it available like this.)

Agree to the terms and login

The Gist

We (the folks at The Innographer) host a website and blog at theinnographer.com and would love for you to use them. We're proud to be making resources available for anyone to use. We do this in support of our vision for extraordinary well-being across this country!

The following notices and licenses comprise together the Innographer Open Toolkit (“IOT”) License and govern your use of the materials found on the website and blog. This is found on our Privacy and terms of use page, linked at the bottom of every page on the website, and listed again below for your convenience.

Read it carefully before agreeing to it and logging in (at the bottom of this page):

The Innographer Open Toolkit License Agreement

The following terms and conditions govern all use of the theinnographer.com website and all content, services and products available at or through the website, including, but not limited to, The DIY Innovation ToolkitTM and The First Draft blog, (taken together, “the Website”). The Website is owned and operated by The Innographer, Ltd. (“The Innographer”). The Website is offered subject to your acceptance without modification of all of the terms and conditions contained herein and all other operating rules, policies and procedures that may be published from time to time on this Website by The Innographer (collectively, the “IOT License Agreement”).

Please read this IOT License Agreement carefully before accessing or using the Website. By accessing or using any part of the Website, you agree to become bound by the terms and conditions of this IOT License Agreement. If you do not agree to all the terms and conditions of this IOT License Agreement, then you may not access the Website.


The Innographer respects your privacy. We do not collect personally identifiable information about you unless you voluntarily provide it, such as when you provide email contact information to subscribe to or comment on the Website, get in touch through the contact form, otherwise send feedback to The Innographer, or respond to a survey. If you voluntarily provide your email address or other contact information, we might also use it to inform you of changes to the Website, to survey you about your use or opinion of the Materials, or to ask for your support. At your request, we will remove your contact information from our files.

We do not make your contact information or any other personally identifiable information available to anyone outside The Innographer unless we are legally required to do so.

In addition to the above, we collect certain anonymous (non-personally identifiable) information to help us improve the Website and to evaluate the access and use of materials found on the Website and the impact of the Website and the DIY Innovation ToolkitTM on the worldwide educational community:

  • We collect information you provide about your use of and satisfaction with the Website through email you send us, through feedback forms, and through surveys, whether or not you voluntarily include your contact information; and
  • We may use web analysis tools that are built into the Website to measure and collect anonymous session information.

If we report information about Website access, use, and impact, we will report aggregate, non-personally identifiable data. Occasionally, we report quoted feedback from users. We do not attribute feedback to specific individuals unless we obtain permission to use that person's name along with the feedback.

If you have a privacy concern or question please contact our Privacy Officer through our contact page.

Creative Commons License

Materials on the Website are offered through the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license linked below. This license means that users of the Website are allowed to download the materials and share them with others as long as they provide appropriate credit to The Innographer and the author of the materials, and as long as they don’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Here is the license deed: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca/

And here is the full legal code in English: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca/legalcode.en

And here is the full legal code in French: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca/legalcode.fr

The Innographer’s Interpretation of "Non-commercial"

Non-commercial use means that users may not sell, profit from, or commercialize The Innographer’s materials or works derived from them. The guidelines below are intended to help users determine whether or not their use of materials found on the Website would be permitted by The Innographer under the "non-commercial" restriction. Note that there are additional requirements (such as attribution and no derivatives) spelled out in our license.

1. Commercialization is prohibited. Users may not directly sell or profit from materials found on the Website or from works derived from materials found on the Website.

Example: A commercial education or training business may not offer courses based on materials found on the Website if students pay a fee for those courses and the business intends to earn revenue through doing so.

Example: An educational institution may not offer workshops based on materials found on the Website if workshop participants pay a fee for those workshops and the institution intends to earn revenue through doing so.

Example: A consultant may not offer workshops or other consulting services based on materials found on the Website if clients pay a fee for those services and the consultant intends to earn revenue through doing so.

2. Determination of commercial vs. non-commercial purpose is based on the use, not the user. Materials found on the Website may be used by individuals, institutions, governments, corporations, or other business whether for-profit or non-profit so long as the use itself is not a commercialization of the materials or a use that is directly intended to generate sales or profit.

Example: A corporation may use materials found on the Website for internal professional development and training purposes.

3. Incidental charges to recover reasonable reproduction costs may be permitted. Recovery of nominal actual costs for copying small amounts (under 100 copies) of materials found on the Website on paper is allowed for educational purposes so long as there is no profit motive and so long as the intended use of the copies is in compliance with all license terms. Students must be informed that the materials are freely available on the Website and that their purchase of copied materials is optional.

Example: An institution in a remote area has limited Internet access and limited network infrastructure on campus, and a professor offers to print copies of materials found on the Website relevant to her course. The professor may recover the costs of creating the printed copies.

If you have questions about acceptable use of materials found on the Website, please contact us.

Use of The Innographer’s Names and Logos

"The DIY Innovation Toolkit" and "Innographer” are trademarks of The Innographer Ltd. Except for purposes of attribution as required by our Creative Commons License, you may not use The Innographer’s names or logos, or any variations thereof (collectively the “Marks”), without prior written consent of The Innographer. You may not use the Marks for promotional purposes, or in any way that deliberately or inadvertently claims, suggests, or in The Innographer's sole judgment gives the appearance or impression of a relationship with or endorsement by The Innographer.

Infringement Notification

The Innographer, prior to making any materials publicly available, has made commercially reasonable efforts to review all material on the Website to determine the correct ownership of the material and obtain the appropriate licenses to make the material available on the Website. The Innographer will promptly remove any material that is determined to be infringing on the rights of others. If you believe that a portion of the material infringes another's copyright, contact us via our contact page.

You may be asked to send or fax a follow-up copy with a signature. To file the notification, you must be either the copyright owner of the work or an individual authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner. Your notification must include:

1. Identification of the copyrighted work, or, in the case of multiple works at the same location, a representative list of such works at that site.

2. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity. You must include sufficient information, such as a specific URL or other specific identification, for us to locate the material.

3. Information for us to be able to contact you (e.g., email address, phone number).

4. A statement that you believe that the use of the material has not been authorized by the copyright owner or an authorized agent.

5. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate and that you are, or you are authorized to act on behalf of, the copyright owner.

When the Innographer receives such a notification we will conduct a review of the notification and the relevant materials and respond to you as soon as possible indicating that we have either removed the materials from the Website or if not, why the materials have not been removed.


The Innographer reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to modify or replace any part of this IOT License Agreement. It is your responsibility to check this IOT License Agreement periodically for changes. Your continued use of or access to the Website following the posting of any changes to this IOT License Agreement constitutes acceptance of those changes. The Innographer may also, in the future, offer new services and/or features through the Website (including, the release of new tools and resources). Such new features and/or services shall be subject to the terms and conditions of this IOT License Agreement.


The Innographer may terminate your access to all or any part of the Website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. If you wish to terminate this IOT License Agreement or your theinnographer.com account (if you have one), you may simply discontinue using the Website. All provisions of this IOT License Agreement which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, disclaimers of warranties and, indemnity and limitations of liability.

Disclaimers of Warranties

The Website is provided “as is”. The Innographer and its suppliers and licensors hereby disclaim all warranties of any kind, express or implied, including, without limitation, the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. Neither The Innographer nor its suppliers and licensors, makes any warranty that the Website will be error free or that access thereto will be continuous or uninterrupted. You understand that you download from, or otherwise obtain content or services through, the Website at your own discretion and risk.

Limitations of Liability

The main purpose of the materials found on the Website is to assist people in teaching and learning how to innovate. Every user of this material uses it understanding that he or she must still conduct his or her own original research, analysis and business development efforts. The Innographer specifically disclaims any liability for any loss or damage any user may suffer as a result of information contained in the materials found on the Website.

While the information contained in the materials found on the Website is about business issues, it is not business advice. All users of the Website are urged to seek appropriate professional business advice.

In no event will The Innographer, or its suppliers or licensors, be liable with respect to any subject matter of this agreement under any contract, negligence, strict liability or other legal or equitable theory for: (i) any special, incidental or consequential damages; (ii) the cost of procurement for substitute products or services; or (iii) for interruption of use or loss or corruption of data. The Innographer shall have no liability for any failure or delay due to matters beyond their reasonable control.


You agree to indemnify and hold harmless The Innographer, its contractors, and its licensors, and their respective directors, officers, employees and agents from and against any and all claims and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising out of your use of the Website, including but not limited to your violation of this IOT License Agreement.


This IOT License Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between The Innographer and you concerning the subject matter hereof, and they may only be modified by a written amendment signed by an authorized executive of The Innographer, or by the posting by The Innographer of a revised version. Except to the extent applicable law, if any, provides otherwise, this IOT License Agreement, any access to or use of the Website will be governed by the laws of the province of Alberta, Canada.

Oh, and we hope you have fun!

Click here to agree with the terms and log in!
If you prefer signing up for an account manually, then just follow steps 1 and 2 above.


1. Click here to register (opens in a new tab or window)

2. Come back to this page and manually log in (tab 2 above)


Your use of this website and course materials is subject to our Creative Commons License and other terms of use found here: Privacy and terms of use