2.2 Tools for Collaboration

There are plenty of collaboration tools. Please check our selection.

Spider Game

Resume / 

Brief description


This game is an icebreaker and presentation game that can be played in a large room or outdoor.


The main aim of this game is to introduce the participants of a big (international) group in a non-formal and dynamic way. For 30 participants it takes approximately 40 minutes.


This game can be performed inside the classroom without tables or outside.


The goal is to create a big spider web that connects people by using a wool yarn.


Target group





Colleagues of the same company or work team

Professionals of different areas



To introduce people to others in a dynamic way

To connect people



A ball of wool



Implementation -Overview

  1. Assemble sets of materials for each team
  2. Present everyone the rules
  3. Start the game
  4. Finish the game


Implementation -Guidelines





As a first step, assemble sets of materials for each team. You can form teams according to the size of your overall group. Remember that long yarn will be needed. The length of the yarn can approximately be determined by the number of participants in the team multiplied by the diameter of the circle that they create.


Secondly, present everyone the rules. The game will proceed as follows:


  1. The participants form a circle. They should stand in a circle facing each other to the circle centre.
  2. The ball of wool is held by one of the participants. You can choose the first person randomly by throwing the wool ball. The participant then wraps the wool around the wrist and introduces him or herself. This person should shortly tell about his or her name, age, educational background and one special thing about habits, tastes, or hobbies.
  3. The participant throws the ball of wool to another person. He or she then introduces him or herself and wraps the wool around his or her wrist.

The game starts when the teacher throws the wool ball to the first selected participant.


The game finishes when the teacher cuts with scissors the wool that connects all the participants.

The World Café

Field of application

Guided larger group conversations and reflections


Resume / Brief description


Making the informal formal and collecting joint knowledge of the participants is the objective of a World Café. Its logic is to encourage a reflection along 3 question rounds. The first round starts with a rather generic question and then is followed by more concrete ones that are oriented to find concrete common results.


The methodology is used for group reflections that want to integrate all participants. It is a very interactive format in which participants exchange on the questions based on their knowledge. It assures that everybody gets a voice and that communication is assured in an egalitarian way. It takes out of the conversation hierarchies (e.g. between students and teachers, between R&D organisations and the community, between teachers) and focuses on the connection of ideas and suggestions.


The World Café can be used  


  • in a smaller group (minimum 12 persons) as well as in large groups of participants (300 persons and even more)
  • internally with students or between teachers of e.g. a university
  • with members of the university and the outside community (e.g. with University departments and businesses, between the R&D activities and the locality or region e.g. for a more applied research orientation)

Target group


  1. Students and graduates inside the different courses
  2. Researchers and teachers to align cooperation opportunities and organisational development improvements
  3. With businesses and start-ups relevant for the research fields of the university
  4. With the local community where the university is based to identify contributions of R&D, research projects or capacity building demands from local organisations and businesses
Group size


Minimum 12 - up to 300 people and more


The World Café aims to

  • create the hospitable atmosphere of a sidewalk café where people can feel at ease and engage in informal conversation
  • develop an interest in others, discover their knowledge and points of views
  • ensure that through the interactive exchange every participants gets a deeper knowledge on the topic that is chosen
  • collect opinions and exchange of concrete ideas (brainstorming)
  • connect the ideas towards a joint synthesis or the concretisation of concrete next steps  and further networking opportunities




  • Small round or square tables with chairs, seating 4-5 people
  • Vases with flowers on each table
  • 3 different colours of markers (e.g. green, blue, red) according to the number of participants (ideally everybody should have access to each marker from the same colour. Alternatively, 2-3 markers from each colour for each table, where the participants at the table share the markers)
  • White sheet of large papers that covers each table as table cloth on which ideas can be written down
  • Menus for tables describing rules and roles of the World Cafe

In case of online realisation, the requirements need to be adapted. Working e. g. with Zoom break-out sessions and mural board documentation provide a good alternative.




20 minutes for each question round, minimum 1 hour plus the introduction and explanation of the purpose of the World Café, its  methodology, rules and roles, and feedback of findings (altogether minimum 1.5 hours)

Implementation -Overview

The methodology is realised in three main organisational steps. 




Implementation - Guidelines





The preparation has to be adjusted to the target group and the context in which it is applied. When working as university staff with external actors, official invitations and procedures should be applied. For internal reflection e.g. with university and department staff, the format can be applied in a joint meeting. In a student class it also can be applied as a didactical instrument. In all 3 application formats there is a sequence of preparation to be considered:


 1. Preparation


1.1.  Clarification of the purpose


The World Café can be used for e.g.  


  • Brainstorming with students to collect their experiences and knowledge
  • Reflection to reach a certain concrete objective (e.g. better coordination between the departments of the university or to identify concrete entry points for research projects with businesses)
  • Promotion of communication on a certain relevant topic to align understanding (e.g. “What is the opinion of different professors and university staff to increase innovation orientation in their delivery of teaching?”)

1.2. Phrasing of the questions


Phrasing suitable questions is key to reach the purpose of the World Café. The logic of phrasing follows a funnel logic. It starts with a rather generic question to get the communication going, then a more concrete question related to the purpose of the meeting, then a final question that provides the opportunity to get a concrete outcome.




1.3.  Preparation of the event


This includes invitation but also setting up the space:

  • Documentation of 3 questions on a pin board or a PowerPoint in three colours (first question in green, 2nd question in red, 3rd question in blue)
  • Round table and table cloth organisation with vases or a flower drawing on the table cloth
  • Placing markers (green ones for 1st question, red ones for 2nd question, blue ones for 3rd question) on the tables
  • Preparing the menu card with the rules and roles of the exercise or preparing on a flipchart (or PowerPoint) the rules and roles 
  • Preparation of a mind map on a pin board to document final summary of findings


2. Realisation of the World Café


2.1.  Welcome speech and introduction to the purpose and sequence 


One of the key questions that can be asked to the audience is: “Where do you have most informal exchange on an official event” The answer in general is: “During the coffee breaks.” The World Café has the logic to encourage informal communication and exchange in a formal structure. It is relevant to give a short overview of the structure of the World Café (3 questions, groups are mixing, and tables are changed after each question, each reflection on a question is e.g. 20 minutes). The explanation of rules and roles are relevant finally (in the first-round group at each table chooses one host who stays at each table through all question rounds, everybody takes the markers and doodles and draws on the table cloth, every comment is documented or visualized on the table cloth etc.). Then the group is asked to find themselves up at different tables before the first round of question starts.


2.2.  First round of questions


The first round of questions is beginning, and answers are getting documented in one colour (e.g. green). Answers to the questions get exchanged and documented on the table cloth (using symbols and graphics, not only words is encouraged). At the end of the 1st question round each participant is asked to look for a new table with a new group of participants (e.g. students). Only the selected host stays at the same table to brief the newcomers.


2.3.  Second round of questions


Before the second question is presented, the host presents the main answers from the first round of reflection (only 2 minutes to wrap up). Meanwhile, moderators take the green markers from the table and exchange it with a new colour (e.g. red). Then the second question is presented to the participants. The reflections on answers related to the second question get then documented by the participants in a different colour (e.g. red). At the end of the second question round each participant is asked to look for a new table with a new group of participants. Only the selected host stays at the same table to brief again the newcomers.


2.4.  Third round of questions


Before the third question is presented, the host presents the main answers from the second round of reflection (only 2 minutes to wrap up). Meanwhile, moderators take the red markers from the table and exchange it with a new colour (e.g. blue). Then the third and last question is presented to the participants. The reflections on answers related to the third question get then documented by the participants in a different colour (e.g. blue).


3.     Reflection of findings


3.1.  Summarising main findings


The hosts at each table are asked to give a synthesis of the main answers on each question at their table. The results are documented in a mind map (on a pin board or flipchart).


3.2.  Reflection on main steps forward


It is important to reflect on how to make use of the information collected or how to move forward as a next step. The momentum that is created provides the opportunity to become well documented and to make use of (e.g. through the realisation of the ideas or further planning steps).


Example of application

Local Economic Development Forum in a city (and in a Student) for a reflection on Local Economic Development


The following examples come from a Summer Academy on Economic Development in Germany for experts and practitioners and from  a student course at the SEPT Master Course in Germany. In both events the main topic to reflect on is local economic development (LED). The logic of the World Café was oriented to

1)      Identify common knowledge on what LED is all about

2)      Reflect about key challenges in LED in a respective city/place

3)      Identify key success criteria for LED


Designing a pin board with main objectives of the World Café and application of examples (if existing)


Students and local practitioners were provided examples of the use of the World Café in different projects and local events in the world. Along this board also the objectives of the world café logic were explained. Stressing out the logic of making the informal talk formal is a key aspect of the World Café as well as making use of common knowledge and getting to know each other through discussing and reflecting on concrete targeted questions.




Description of the rules and roles of the World Café sequence

In the local city workshop/training the description of the main rules and roles were provided. This can be done on a pin board, flipchart or on a PowerPoint. Presenting it in a nice visualised way encourages the participants to also visualise on the table cloths and to make use of symbols while jointly reflecting.




Presentation of one question after the other in the sequence






In a local economic development event with stakeholders a pin board to demonstrate the questions was used while in a student class a PowerPoint was used to present the three question in a sequence.


Summarising the discussions from the different round tables

A mind map is a good way to document the main findings of the discussions. The hosts are asked to come up with their main important findings which are then documented directly on the mind map. It provides a good joint reflection of the large group.






Documentation of the results

The summary reflection provides a good overview of the overall discussion. But each tablecloth table also entails many additional information. In a conference, these additional findings can be documented in a written format or photographed as documentation.














The events with the World Café are organised by very different stakeholders in very different communities. In large public events, the core group who organises the World Café should make sure to have a number of moderators with them who visit the different tables and who make sure that people are not only talking but also documenting their reflections on the tablecloths.


Templates, Graphics for download


Additional format/references



Snakes (Trust Walk)

Resume / 

Brief description


Snakes is a teambuilding activity that helps people practice trusting each other. A team captain guides his or her partners around obstacles using nonverbal instructions. The objective of the game is to place an item into the bucket by every (or some) team members.


Target group





Colleagues of the same company or work team

Professionals of different areas



To work in a team

To collaborate within a short time






Rope or tape for barrier


Implementation - Overview


Snakes is a teambuilding activity that requires a great deal of space. An outdoor setting with some obstacles (but nothing dangerous) is ideal. As the facilitator of the Trust Walk, be sure to choose a safe area in advance. Large fields or the woods may be good places to try. Minor obstacles (trees, branches, small hills) are okay, but do not play this game in a dangerous environment (e.g. anywhere with very steep ledges or sharp protruding objects).


Implementation -Guidelines





  1. Assemble sets of materials for the teams. The materials required include blindfolds, items, buckets, rope or tape for barrier, and a stopwatch.
  2. Create a large circle barrier with tape or a rope. Place a bucket in the middle of the circle. Toss the items randomly inside the barrier. Depending on the amount of people in the group, ask the participants to get into teams of 5-7 people.
  3. Present the rules to everyone. The following rules apply for the game: All participants are blindfolded except for the person standing last in the line. Remember that only nonverbal communication is allowed. The person in the back of the line guides the participants around the circle barrier by tapping the shoulders of the person in front of him or her. Then, the next person taps the shoulders of the participant in front of him or her. This procedure continues until the person in the front of the line moves towards an item. When an item is approached, the person in the front grabs the item and is guided to the bucket where he or she drops the item. When a participant drops the item into the bucket, then he or she removes the blindfold and moves to the back of the line and becomes the sighted team member. The person who was in the back of the line puts on a blindfold. Game time is 5 minutes.
  4. Start the game. Ask the participants to stand in a single line and put their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. This is a no-talking activity, but allow the group to take 1-2 minutes to pre-plan.
  5. Play the game until all team members have placed an item into the bucket. If there is more than one team, the team that wins is the one that finishes the task in the shortest time. If the teams are uneven, the team with the least amount of members will continue to rotate until they have dropped as many items into the bucket as the largest team.
  6. Draw conclusions. Let the teams discuss their feelings related to the game. What was easy? What was challenging? Focus on leadership, cooperation, strategies, surprises, etc. Some sample questions to ask the teams include
    • What was it like to be the “guide,” being fully responsible for the safety of your partner?
    • What do you think was the purpose of this team building activity?
    • Did you have any difficulty trusting your partner while blindfolded? Why or why not?
    • Why is trusting your teammates important?
    • How does this relate to employees working together on a project?


Additional format/references

The video shows Snakes (Trust Walk) in action:


Systems Game

Field of application

Guided larger group reflections on system dynamics


Resume / Brief description


In most of our work as lecturers or as scientists we are explaining certain system dynamics. The context can be a value chain as a business relational system, local economic development as a system in a certain geographic space or even a business itself as a system of departments, employees, changing markets and demand. Most systems are complex and interrelations in the system cannot always be traced back. The Systems Game is a funny and insightful self-experience on how systems and interrelationships are affecting each other in a multidimensional way. In the beginning, the participants of the exercise stay in a circle. They have to select two persons in the circle between which they have to position themselves once the moderator gives the signal. Different rounds of this game and joint reflections about observations provide an inside on how system dynamics function.


Target group


  1. Students and graduates that should reflect on certain system dynamics.
  2. Researchers and University departments that want to experience the system dynamics and who want to sensitise themselves on their interdependence.
  3. Businesses and support organisations to sensitise themselves on the consideration of system dynamics and changes in the environment on which they have to respond.


The Systems Game aims to

  • Illustrate how a complex adaptive system works and how small changes can have a big effect
  • Experience that cause and effect in complex systems is separated in time, and there are typically multiple cause and effect relations that are weakly connected but that influence each other
  • Sensitise on who is following whom in complex living systems, and where the different stakeholders and system parts get their signals from to change their position
  • Learn that due to the interconnectedness of system relations it is very difficult to intervene in the system without running into the risk that the system responds in an unpredictable way
  • Learn that the history of a system and the relationships between the stakeholders shape the present and the future
  • Experience that nobody has the complete picture of the system.




  • Space for the exercise. The Systems Game can be played in a larger classroom and outside in a parking lot, garden or park
  • A flipchart for reflection in between the exercise


Time: 20 -30 minutes depending on the depth of reflection


Implementation - Overview

The methodology is realised in three main organisational steps.