Mood Marbles

A mechanism for gauging team sentiment
Contributed by

Jerry Becker

Matt Takane

Published June 22, 2021

What Is Mood Marbles?

Mood Marbles is a team culture practice that allows each person within a group to communicate how they are feeling at any point in time by using various colored stickies on a chart. The chart (physical or digital) is accessible to all team members and is populated with 1 of 3 colored stickies by every team member.

These stickies correspond to psychological and emotional states:

  • Green = I'm feeling good! Let's keep goin!
  • Yellow = I'm a little nervous or uncertain, but ok to continue
  • Red = I don't feel comfortable or safe right now

Stickies are anonymous and represent the current state of the team at any given time.

Why Do Mood Marbles?

Providing an anonymous means for team members to communicate how they're feeling is a great way to gauge psychological safety. While simple on the surface, Mood Marbles is a great way to identify cultural red flags that might pop up as a team works together. As a faciltator, you can keep an eye on the Mood Marbles chart to know if the team is feeling safe and comfortable working together, or if there needs to be a discussion or retrospective to tease out details about something that is causing an issue within the team.

How to do Mood Marbles?


  1. Find some dedicated wall space to hang a large post-it paper with an outline of a jar drawn largely on it. If implementing this remotely, create a space on your digital whiteboard tool of choice (Miro, Mural, Jamboard, etc) with a jar outline (see media gallery for example)

    Give everyone on the team 3 different colored stickies:
    Green = I'm feeling good! Let's keep goin!
    Yellow = I'm a little nervous or uncertain, but ok to continue
    Red = I don't feel comfortable or safe right now

  2. Tell the team that, any any point in time, they're welcome to put the color stickie that reflects their current emotional and psychological state in the jar

  3. As a facilitator, keep checking the state of the jar to see if any colors are changing as you go. If you start to see some yellows, that's ok! Progress, but keep an eye on the chart. If you start to see a LOT of yellows, or ANY reds, find a way to address the issue...

Tips for addressing yellow and red "marbles"

  • You can ask if the room is comfortable sharing who put yellow or stickies in the jar, and why, just have a conversation there on the spot!
  • If you get the sense the room isn't comfortable speaking about it, you might try a blind confidence vote to find out who you need to talk to privately. Run the Confidence Vote as written in the link, but have everyone put their heads down and close their eyes before voting - that way it stays anonymous. Once you know who may be feeling uncomfortable by how everyone votes, you can set up private conversations with team members to learn more about what's contributing to the issue.
  • Run a quick Team Retro to tease out possible issues that may have contributed to yellow and red marbles.

Look at Mood Marbles

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Mood Marbles practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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