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Choose the roles you need

Build your team around the skills you need to produce your policy, product or service.

When to do it

Do this when you have more work than people or when you need to bring in specialist expertise. Your team should get larger or smaller as the work evolves, so revisit this regularly.

How to do it

You should:

  • appoint an owner – the person ultimately held to account for getting benefit from the work and the most important source of strategic guidance

  • appoint a manager – the person who takes day-to-day decisions about what to deliver and how to do it

  • review the type and quantity of work that you need to do next

  • set out the skills and time needed to do the work. Build your team based on the skills that you need, not the part of the organisation you work in

  • review the skills and availability of your existing team

  • understand the roles of specialist experts

  • identify roles where you need to bring in extra people

  • start with a small team, so you can make decisions and change quickly

Try this activity

This activity will give you a list of the team roles you need and identify which are vacant roles.

Time, space and materials

  • 30 minutes

  • any space with a wall, sticky notes, paper, pens and blue tack for a face-to-face event

  • or for a remote event use a video conference and online whiteboard that will take the place of the wall and enable participants to add and move online ‘sticky notes’

  • team roles cards – print this document double sided and cut out the cards

  • display your roadmap (see chapter: build a roadmap)

People to include

  • your team

  • any number of people

  • a facilitator to provide the instructions


The purpose of this activity is to identify roles needed in the team and identify where there are vacancies.

  1. One person should talk through the roadmap and tasks that need to done.

  2. Shuffle and distribute the cards between the participants.

  3. Read all your cards now, but only look at the yellow side of the cards that says, ‘Do you need to do this?’. You have 1 minute.

  4. Look at the roadmap and focus on the tasks to complete in the current or next phase of the project. If the roadmap task needs the thing on your card to be done, then stick your card to the roadmap with blue tack. You do not have to stick all your cards to the roadmap. You have 3 minutes.

  5. Assign one person to each roadmap task. In turn, each person should give a 1 minute summary of the proposed cards, then invite discussion about whether the right job cards have been selected and edit the cards as you discuss it.

  6. Take the cards off the roadmap and put them on a table. Now turn them over to show the people side of the cards. Group together cards that show the same people. Everyone should work together to order the cards from the people you need most to the people you need least. Discuss as you work. You have 2 minutes.

  7. You have now identified the roles that you need. Match existing people in the team against the roles that you have identified. Do this by putting a sticky note with a name on the card. The cards that have no names against them, show the roles that you need to fill.

  8. You now have a list of roles you need for your next phase of work including a list of vacancies to fill.


  • if a discussion about assigning existing team staff to roles is a sensitive issue, then do the final steps in private

Next steps

  • talk to an HR or commercial expert about how to find people to fill your vacant roles

Further reading

Find out more about this topic by searching the internet for:

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