Why your scrum team needs a Team Working Agreement

Why your scrum team needs a Team Working Agreement

A Scrum Team Work Agreement is a set of rules/disciplines/processes what the team agrees on to make themselves more effective and successful. It is a short, well-defined document by the team itself, and not a fantasy of an individual who forces the team to accept his ideas.

 

Why is a Team Working Agreement important?

As the definition shows it, the goal of this document is to make the scrum team more successful and set the rules and behaviors of the teamwork. For a scrum team, it is crucial to have proper guidelines how we should work together because we do not have too much time to go through the typical team dynamic steps, like forming, norming and storming before starts performing. Scrum teams have to perform from the first day when they start to work together.
Having a team working agreement could help the team to know how to work together, who to talk if you have a problem or impediment, and what to do if you do not know what you have to do, or you have any problem with other teammates.

 

How should a team working agreement be produced?

It is great if you can prepare this document as soon as a Scrum Team start to work together. But as we know ideal situations rarely exists.
To create a working agreement in our team we had to face the hard truth: our scrum team works together more than 3 years. During this 3 years processes have established, routines are evolved and rules are formed. But these were hardly documented, shared between the team members and widely discussed and agreed.
We reached a point when, as one of our new team member explained, our scrum process become „unorganized”. This was the point when we felt that this „organization” makes us less effective. Then we decided to work on our Scrum Team Working Agreement. We did not want to be so formal, so we started to call it „Team Guidelines”. Subtitle: „We do not have rules, we have guidelines” – AnoNImus.

 

How to prepare a Team Working Agreement with an already operating team?

Team agreements can be defined and agreed upon in a meeting facilitated by the ScrumMaster. Various steps that can perform in this meeting are: prepare, brainstorm, sort, categorize, agree, and refine.
We decided to use one simple methodology.

  1. Everybody brought a few topics, which should be updated according to him.
  2. The topics have been collected before the meeting by the Scrum master, and a list has been made about the improvement proposals.
  3. Every team member had 5 votes to decide which items should we work on. We started to work on the 5 items which got the most votes.
  4. Well, to be honest, we have not started to vote. We just started to talk about the items which came up and decided to make action items related to all of them.
  5. We agreed on concrete action items to solve the problems related to the topics. The action items have been written down. And this way we had a „guideline” how we will work.

Awesome!
Nice job! Work has boon done!
Nope. It is not the end, it is only the beginning……

 

How are we going to use this agreement to make us more productive?

It is not going to be a document written for the shelves…. The team will review this guideline periodically during retrospective meetings. And not just review, but also update it every time, if we had a new agreement on a topic.
The document has been placed in a public folder (yes, even you can read it) and all of us are accountable by any of the team members to keep the rules what we agreed on.
It is a good question how we can measure the effectiveness of our team after this agreement. If you have any idea just share that with me I am planning to write a blog post about it in a few months to summarize if this initiative was a success or a failure in our scrum team life.

Question: Does your scrum team have a working agreement? How you prepared that? You
can leave a comment below!

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