5 check-ins to make you more innovative

Have you attended a workshop where the same old ideas came up? Have you been in a working group where you saw new thoughts? Been in a meeting where some would rather be silent than risk saying the wrong thing? Jenny Pettersson Lindberg gives you the tools to move forward if you want to increase the level of innovation in your organization. Start with a check-in! It only takes a few minutes, is free and you can start today.

But does it work?

Check-in is a way to start a meeting or workshop where everyone is given the opportunity to say something about what they think and feel. One at a time without being interrupted or questioned. An opportunity to get to know each other and to see each other's current position. It may sound too simple, but to be able to solve really difficult challenges together, we need to build greater trust and increase the depth of relationship with each other. Then what happens?

You and your colleagues will:

  • dare to experiment
  • dare to fail
  • share your work - before it's done
  • talk about when you made a mistake
  • tell us when you need help
  • dare to have a different opinion

There are many ways to increase trust and depth of relationships in a group. Check-ins is one we at Antrop always use and one of the easiest and fastest ways to get started. And of course they work well even in digital meetings.

Here we go!


Jenny Pettersson Lindberg

är en av Sveriges mest erfarna tjänstedesigners med gedigen erfarenhet av tjänstedesign, processledning och facilitering. Hon har varit global digital chef i Skanska-koncernen, och bland mycket annat jobbat med innovation i Uppsala kommun där hon skapat framtidens äldreboende, och innoverat reparationstjänster i samarbete med Vinnova. Dessutom avgudar hon allt som innehåller salted caramel.

Jenny Pettersson Lindberg, incheckningsivrare

Jenny Pettersson Lindberg, incheckningsivrare

My 5 favorite check-ins

1. The Circle

The circle

The circle

Here's how it works: Everyone in the group stands in a circle. I say a statement, e.g. a property or a valuation. Those who agree step one step into the ring. Everyone is told why they stand the way they do. It is usually easiest to start with simple statements like "I am a morning girl" but when the group knows each other better you can move on to deeper topics like "I think it is important that everyone agrees". Can vary infinitely!

Make it digital: Use a digital whiteboard like Miro or Mural to create a circle that you can place inside or outside. Or make sure everyone has the camera turned on and then you have to raise your hand if you agree.

Why does it work? Looking each other in the eyes automatically leads to a sense of belonging and presence. Seeing others and ourselves being seen arouses feelings and makes it easier for us to relate to each other. In addition, when we add questions that allow us to reflect and lower our façade, the security of the group increases.

The Roller-coaster

Draw a roller coaster and put yourself in it.

Draw a roller coaster and put yourself in it.


Here's how it works: Draw up a fantastic roller coaster on a large piece of paper. Make sure the track has both up and down slopes, loops, etc. Then let everyone in the group position themselves on the track based on how they feel right now, or how they feel in relation to something, eg. a joint project. Then go around the yard and let everyone tell you why it feels so.

Make it digital: Draw the roller coaster in advance and share your screen so everyone can see it. Then let the participants tell you where they are and why. If you have included the image in a presentation, you can also draw where they are.

Why does it work? We are often good at censoring ourselves and not expressing our feelings, especially the negative ones. We worry - consciously or unconsciously - that we should not be allowed to join the group. It is about ancient psychological needs from the time when being ejected from the group led to a sure death on the savanna. Therefore, we need to create formats that help us to dare to open up.

3. Two true and one false

Is he telling the truth? If you check in you will know.

Is he telling the truth? If you check in you will know.


Here's how it works: Everyone in the group is allowed to write down three things about themselves. Two should be true and one invented. Then you tell the others in the group about yourself and everyone can now try to guess which one was false. It is best if you guess at the same time so as not to affect each other.

Make it digital: Let everyone have the camera on and you can vote for which one is fake. Either by holding up one, two or three fingers, or creating homemade “voting cards” = notes with the numbers 1-3.

Why does it work? A real mood booster! When we relax and show a little more of ourselves, we give ourselves the opportunity to be more creative and dare more.

4. Plan a party

Is this fun? Say yes!

Is this fun? Say yes!

Here's how it works: The task is to plan the world's best party! Pair everyone in the group two and two. 

Step 1) Say NO to each other's suggestions. Whatever the person says. This is hard. It may sound like this:

Person 1: Imagine if we were having the party on a beach with palm trees at sunset.

Person 2: But uh, I hate getting sand in my shoes. But what if we could have a bouncy castle that everyone could bounce around in!

Person 1: No, I loath bouncy castles.

Step 2) Say yes, but find a compromise.

Step 3) Say yes to each other's ideas! Be as comfortable as possible!

Make it digital: Use the break out room function in Zoom or similar to be able to run two and two smoothly.

Why does it work? The mood after the last step is usually on top with lots of energy! At Antrop we like to borrow techniques from different areas, this one comes from the improvisation theater, where the idea is to build on each other's input and never block. In the exercise, it becomes very clear what happens when we say no or yes to each other.

Only when we fully support each other's ideas can we be creative and come up with genuinely innovative solutions. Moreover, inside most of us lives an inner critic that we need to silence by practicing to release what comes up spontaneously without valuing it. By trying on the wonderful feeling we dare to say yes more often - to ourselves and each other.

5. This is what I bring with me

Happy, stressed or unsecure? What are you bringing?

Happy, stressed or unsecure? What are you bringing?

Here's how it works:  Even when I'm running out of time I always take some to make this check-in. Everyone in the group, one at a time, says something about their current situation - what you bring with you.

It could be if I eg. "I feel extra energized" but also give me a space to bring up other feelings, such as stress, worry, or feeling insecure. It is also possible to talk about what it is that makes you feel that way.

And as we all know, it is not just the job that affects how we feel. You may have had a conflict at home in the morning, or something else from your private life  that affects your mood and how you feel at the moment.

Make it digital: Just do it – this works on and off-line!

Why does it work? I (and maybe it has happened to you too) often think that other people's feelings have to do with me. This check-in helps us avoid fantasies like "I did something wrong that caused friction between us". And when you are able to release something difficult that you have been carrying it can be easier to let it go.


For those of you who have already tested

Congratulations, good job! Then go on by using:

  • checkouts
  • polarizations
  • project startups focusing on getting to know each other in depth
  • to celebrate and learn from failures

Or something else that helps you to build trust and relationship depth. The examples above are some of the ones I like a little extra. And remember - to create a climate where new thoughts grow does not happen by itself - we create it together.