Tag Archives: working agreement

Three Agile Tools to create winning teams

Do you want to create winning teams?  Or improve already effective teams?  Agile can help – regardless of what department you are in.  As background, Agile is a software development methodology that uses practical tools and concepts to empower people to be more productive. Here are three tools that you can start using immediately to enhance teamwork and trust in your organization.

Working Agreement

What is it?

winningteams1A working agreement is a document of the values and behaviors that your team defines for how they will work together. It is powerful because it is crafted by the team, for the team (not by management).  It facilitates great discussion about what will work for all team members. It could address topics such as after-hours availability, meeting etiquette, team member attitudes on interruptions, philosophical positions on accountability and more.

How to get started:

The easiest way to introduce a working agreement at the office is before a long meeting. The meeting could be a few hours or a few days, but long durations tend to bring out the worst in all of us. Ask for five minutes at the start of the meeting to document a working agreement. Ask everyone to define the appropriate behaviors for the meeting. You may have to prompt the group with provocative questions like “Are smartphones allowed? Who is taking meeting minutes? When are break times? If everyone is not back after a break, does the meeting commence, or do we wait?” With a little prompting, a healthy discussion should take place. Write down the results of the discussion and keep the working agreement displayed throughout the meeting.  If anyone violates a tenet of the working agreement, any team member can gently point out the discrepancy and the meeting can continue. This simple introduction to working agreements will allow people to become familiar with the practice and then you can apply it more broadly to project teams.

The Agile Family

As you can tell, I am a bit of a nut about Agile.  There are so many things about it that I appreciate and now I have something new to add to the list.  We were told about a TED talk by Brue Feiler regarding an Agile Family and I had to watch it.  Following Bruce’s direction, we started our own Agile movement on Sunday night and since then three amazing things have happened.

First, let me share our dynamics.  We have two daughters, 11 and 12.  They are only one grade apart in school and they do everything together – including fight.  We are a loving, caring, sarcastic and funny family who definitely has moments of chaos and meltdowns.  During the school year, my least favorite time of day is just before bedtime.  Since my husband is a stay-at-home Dad, I feel like it is my responsibility to get my little angels tucked in every night.  Let me tell you – shear torture.  They would stall and play and not do what I asked and whine and stall.  You get the picture.  It got so bad we even nicknamed the little one “Delay Fish” from Dory’s character in Finding Nemo.

So as I watched Bruce’s TED talk, I thought – the nighttime ritual is what I want to change.  We started our first family meeting on Sunday with each girl making a list of what they need Agile_Checklistto accomplish before going to bed.  It includes showers, teeth brushing, finding and charging your cell phone and more.  I added some of the items that annoy me – like hang up your towel.  We then turned their notes into a checklist and taped it to the mirror in their bathroom.

We then said ‘what is something that doesn’t work in our family right now?’  The girls said (in their own words) that we weren’t good at respecting each other’s personal space.  Then we defined what that meant and created a Working Agreement. (1) Leave someone’s room when asked. (2) Have their permission to use something of theirs and (3) enter someone’s room only when you have permission.  Pretty reasonable.  We then asked what the punishment would be for someone who violated this agreement.  The girls agreed on the loss of TV on Saturday.