Team Working Agreement Canvas
My first experience launching teams came while I was working alongside Joe Justice. He taught me all about forming a team, creating a working agreement, and getting started on the right foot. Since that time, I have launched dozens of teams, and have been constantly tweaking the process to make it better as I have gone along.
My first iteration took the form of using Lego to help even the most introverted person bring up points that were important to them. Much of what I did came from Ellen Grove and the Lego Serious Play facilitation course I took. While I was very satisfied with the results, the method does take quite some time.
At Scrum Inc., we employ a workshop for launching many teams at once. While the outcome with Lego is what I wanted, I found it can be inefficient in these large groups, due to the varying team sizes in the room. Additionally, it’s not as engaging for those who are reorganizing into different teams out of pre-existing ones where people know each other, and the process fairly well.
As I contemplated how to improve this workshop, I began seeing a lot of different ways that the Lean Canvas layout was being employed for different purposes.
- Mirko Kleiner of Flowdays uses it for procurement.
- Louis Dorard has employed it in the context of Data & AI with the Machine Learning Canvas.
After reading these, I wondered if I could do the same for a team launch – essentially put it all on one page. The end result is our Working Agreement Canvas.
WHERE TO START AND END
When chartering a new team, I would suggest starting with parts 3, 4, & 5: the team mission, roles & responsibilities, and metrics.
This encapsulates the idea of, “starting with why” – a common theme in the Agile landscape. I would end with the top sections 1 & 2, choosing a team name and motto. For an already existing team that is going through changes, like absorbing new members, starting with the top sections is fine.
THINK THROUGH THE MIDDLE
The middle sections of 6, 7, & 8 are meant to be self-reflective. We need to know how we see ourselves and be as radically honest as possible. It’s commonly said at Scrum Inc. that doing Scrum won’t make you agile, but it will surely show you where you are not. These sections are designed to help facilitate that discussion, as well how we want to celebrate and improve.
THE VALUES SECTIONS
The final sections, 9 & 10, are of particular importance as we want to create a values-driven culture. The Scrum Values anchor our culture, but we need to expand our minds to include those of our company and our team. For example, Honesty, while essential for Scrum to succeed, is not a core value. I have not often seen it in corporate value statements either, but I have worked with many teams that want to explicitly include it in their working agreements.
Section 10 is what we commonly associate with working agreements. Here is where we summarize and list what norms and behaviors we want to encourage. We suggest writing them as individuals and then discussing them as a group, ending with voting by “fist of five” for no more than ten at a time to be included in this Working Agreement.
Section 11 is our final one where we list our Event details. This includes the time and place, as well as any other important people who need to be present that are external to the team. For example, in Scrum we always want a representation of the customer at the Sprint Review so we can get direct feedback on the product increment the team has created, so here is where we would list stakeholder and customer names.
This agreement can be revisited during a team’s Sprint Retrospective and modified as needed. In particular, if a team has mastered one of the agreements in section 11, it can be removed and another one voted up into its place. I hope you find this helpful and feel free to provide any feedback to make it better.