In the early stage of team formation, normally shortly after a team is put together, it is normal to start noticing some conflict or friction between team members, maybe due to different personalities, different ways in working, inexperience in collaborating, unhealthy personal habits, etc.
To help a team get through to a more storming stage (forming > storming > norming), there is nothing better than creating common ground: simple, direct team working agreements that will easen daily interactions, help resolve differences, and promote more appreciation or respect among team members. In other words, foster a good working environment.
Scrumming the agreements
When some of the teams at my organization (POs included) were still trying to get the hang of of writing users stories and grooming the backlog, some thoughts came to me:
- Why not handle team working agreements slightly differently?
- Let's "Scrum" these team working agreements and get more out of the exercise than the actual agreements alone.
So I prepared the exercise writing a user story (new functionality) for our product (teams) that would be groomed (high-priority backlog item) and implemented in the next sprint (retrospective).
I wrote a "poor" user story deliberately (value/purpose, format/style), so that the teams could use their recent learnings, references, and practices in getting a backlog item "ready," as well as assuring that it would actually be "done."
This turned out to be an interesting way to achieve the goal and using some Scrum principles and practices:
- Getting backlog items ready: grooming session with the team (role-playing the PO) creating clarity; understanding the "who," "what," and"why"; questioning and reassuring value; confirming acceptance criteria as feasible and testable
- Getting the sprint backlog item "done": collaboratively identifying agreements and confirming that the acceptance criteria was met