When a new team forms, it is important from them to consider how they want to work together. A technique for developing a shared understanding is to have the team co-create a working agreement. There are many ways to approach this exercise, but it is important that each member have an opportunity to share what they feel will enable the team to be effective and happy working together. Esther Derby describes working agreements as "focused on amplifying desired patterns of behavior" and "aimed at helping the team achieve their task and team-work goals." in her post: Norms, Values, Working Agreements, Simple Rules. Working agreements help teams surface shared values and address what could be issues before they happen.
A working agreement is an artifact that should be shared publicly and referred to by the team. It is not a static document. It should be updated periodically, perhaps during retrospectives. The following is an example working agreement that evolved with a team that I am working with. I share the following as an example of what one team came up with. It is not a template. I believe working agreements need to be developed together as a team, as they should be tailored to the specific dynamics and needs of a team, and are likely influenced by the culture of the company..
Sample Working Agreement
- Product Owner is responsive to team requests for information
- Team will close higher priority stories first. To do so, we limit the number of stories in progress at any one time. NOTE: Rule of thumb is to put as many people on the highest priority story that is still efficient.
- Team members use information radiators (sprint burndown) to help determine whether we're on track with commitment.
- All agile ceremonies are time boxed. This means that they start on time and end on time. To maximize the effectiveness of these ceremonies team members show up on time and are committed to being completely focused and dedicated to the task at hand.
- We use the retrospective to continually inspect, adapt, and therefore improve our work together.
- Core hours are established between 11:00am and 4:00pm where no non-agile meetings with Team members maybe set up. Informal conversations between team members are ALWAYS fine.
- We believe in in the value of planning collectively as a team
- Product Owner respects teams estimates coming out of release planning / sprint planning
- Product Owner keeps the backlog up to date.
- Team contributes to product backlog in advance of planning sessions.
- Team members attend daily scrum at 9:30am
- Should a team member have a conflict, s/he updates the board in advance of the meeting and sends an email with updates for the team.
- Task board is updated during daily stand up meeting so team members can refer to the specific tasks they are working on or completed.
- Team members may add new tasks any time.
- Communicate impediments to Scrum Master such as dependencies, issues, waiting, and so on
- Stories completed to Definition of Done and Product Owner agrees acceptance criteria of story is met.
NOTE: The above is printed on 11x17 paper, posted in the team room, and signed by all team members.