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Using a canvas to build our community culture

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Business Analyst, communities of practice
Ryan Hewitt, Lead Business Analyst, DWP
Ryan Hewitt, Lead Business Analyst, DWP

Hi, I’m Ryan Thomas Hewitt, Lead Business Analyst at DWP Digital.

We've done a lot of work over the past year or so to develop the business analysis  community in the organisation.

We've previously blogged about some of the work we've done.

In this blog post I want to share our experience of using a ‘team canvas’ to discuss and visualise our business analyst (BA) community culture.


What is a team canvas?

A team canvas is a variation of the Business Model Canvas. It’s a canvas to visualise team membership such as pictures, names and strengths,and communicate the purpose and values of the team.

There are plenty of materials about the team canvas online, including a standard team canvas and guidance for how to run a team canvas session.

Some of our delivery teams have already created their own team canvas, such as the example in the picture below.

An example of a team canvas, created by the DWP BA community
An example of a team canvas, created by the DWP BA community

Why did we use a team canvas?

We wanted to create a team canvas for our Manchester business analyst community. We’ve had a few new people join the team and we’re moving to a new office soon, so we wanted to run a session to discuss people’s expectations, understand their needs and ensure the Manchester BA community was geared towards their goals.

Rather than say ‘this is what the community purpose and goals should be’, this was a session to get their input and understand the needs of the BA community.

We wanted to answer questions like:

  • What do members want the purpose of the BA community to be?
  • What values do members want from the community?
  • How can the community support their individual goals?
  • What strengths do members bring to the community?

To do this, we tweaked the standard format of the team canvas and created our own format.

Creating the team canvas

We created a team canvas format and invited members of the Manchester BA community to work through the following sections:

  1. Who we are – we put pictures & the names of members in this section. We asked each member to attach an interesting fact. We asked each BA to stand up and introduce themselves, reveal their interesting fact and provide an overview about their current project
  2. Individual strengths – we asked members to share their 3 professional strengths. This could be a particular technique (e.g. user story mapping), an area of the business (e.g. Universal Credit), a soft skill (e.g. stakeholder management), organising socials, anything! We asked that they also share this with the team
  3. Individual goals – we asked people to write down 3 individual BA goals for the next 12 months. We didn’t share their goals in the session – but we will use them to try and match goals with individual strengths and opportunities (e.g. if person X has a goal of being a better presenter, we could put them in touch with person Y who has that as a strength)
  4. Purpose of the Community – we asked people to think about why they think the BA Community exists, and what purpose the Community serves within DWP. This generated ideas around learning and development, promoting the role, socializing etc
  5. Values and culture – in order to achieve the purpose, we considered the values and culture we want from our community. This led to values such as openness, honesty and sharing with each other
  6. Blue sky thinking – we generated ideas of what people would like to see. These were any ideas for the BA Community – big and small

The session lasted 1 – 1.5 hours. It felt like a great opportunity to learn the needs of our BA community.

Ryan during a BA team canvas session in Manchester
Ryan during a BA team canvas session in Manchester

In fact, although we ran the first session in Manchester, we then took the idea on tour to our other digital hubs in London, Newcastle, Leeds, Blackpool and Sheffield.

It was really interesting running the event in each location. It means we can identify common – and specific - needs from each BA Community.

What are we doing next?

  1. Sharing outputs - we're working on a way to visualise and share the 6 team canvases from each location
  2. Taking actions forward - we are taking actions and ideas forward from each team canvas
  3. Objectives and key results (OKRs) – We’re looking to turn the purpose statements into OKRs that we can measure and set quarterly goals.

It’s part of a commitment to keep improving the BA Community. We’re in a good position but we always want to improve.

If you’ve got any questions let us know.

And thanks to Roberto Real for introducing us to the idea of a team canvas.

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  1. Comment by Rob Elvin posted on

    Great blog Ryan, we're intending to use the same technique at our inaugural Sheffield Delivery Practice community event.

  2. Comment by Claudia Wootten posted on

    Thanks for sharing Ryan, I am really interested in finding out more about team canvas, looks like a great tool.