Are your Agile teams disengaged and failing to meet their commitments? Are you spending too much time in endless meetings? Has collaboration eroded between remote team members? Then STOP spinning your wheels, it’s time to revisit your working agreements! When effective, working agreements create a social contract that helps a group align on what matters most to them as a team.

As an internal Agile coach for a Financial Services company, I started to coach a globally distributed team. While they were dedicated individuals, they struggled to collaborate and failed to meet commitments. Upon attending several ceremonies, I observed only a few people speaking and many perspectives were not being heard. In particular, the offshore tech lead was speaking on behalf of that entire team! There had to be a better way to make everyone feel safe enough to engage and share their opinion. What the team needed were meaningful working agreements.

This was not as easy as you think. The struggle was creating an environment, where ALL team members would feel their opinions and contributions made a difference. Then a thought occurred to me, “One of the reasons the team has been failing was that they didn’t observe scrum values, so why not use those as the basis for rebuilding new agreements?” This aha-moment proved to be a turning point for the team to focus on addressing what matters the most to all. The exercise revealed many hidden barriers. As a result, the team established a new sense of trust that respected each other’s culture, boundaries and abilities. This made them value each other’s contributions and as such their collaborated improved to the extent they were much better at delivering on their commitments.

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