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Scrumming Agreements

Writing team working agreements using Scrum

26 August 2016

Storming teams

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."
Backlog item before grooming (non-ready)

User Story

As a manager
I want to create a set of rules
So that I can make teams follow them and avoid conflicts

Acceptance Criteria

  • Rules will be followed by all teams
  • Rules must be as detailed as possible
  • There is no limit to the number of rules
  • No cell phones are allowed during events
  • No laptops may be present at events (stand-up/retro events)
  • No chatting/messaging is allowed during events (e.g. Skype)
  • Events must start on time
  • Rules must be handed over to the manager so he can use them when necessary
Backlog item after grooming (ready)

User Story

As a facilitator
I want to establish a set of team working agreements
So that we create a better, more trustful, and safer working environment

Acceptance Criteria

  • Team agreements are rules or behaviors that team members should agree upon and follow
  • The agreements must be effective:
    • Simple and direct (fit on on a Post-It)
    • Limited in number (more than 10, fewer than 20)
    • Enforceable (change/impact on behavior)
  • The agreements should be made available for all team members so they can be:
    • Referred to daily or in ceremonies
    • Shared with new team members
    • Used as recommendations for other teams
Sprint backlog item (done) - Team A


Sprint backlog item (done) - Team B




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


Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 4.2 (5 ratings)


Pavan Rajauriya, CSM, 8/29/2016 11:15:07 AM
Creative idea

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