New to Agile? Use a Rules of Engagement document.
How do we work together? Seems like a simple question, right? How wrong you could be! For an agile team, working together is vitally important, but it is also the hardest thing to accomplish. Why? Because we don’t normally work together very well. Think about the stereotypical high tech company and their sterile cubicles with “resources” working hard in isolation. This is a far cry from the PEOPLE on an effective agile team who work in an open, collaboration friendly environment. (In case you can’t tell, I have a pet peeve about calling people anything except people – in my opinion it is degrading to call people anything else) But this isn’t the only problem…
Once we get the team working well together, we still have those pesky PEOPLE known as managers and executives that want to pry into every little detail. Sorry, but that isn’t very agile, so wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep them from doing it? What about the product people constantly changing the focus of the team on a day to day basis? Or how about fixing the problem of the development manager constantly trying to tell the team they can do more work than is possible? All of these things and many more come into play when we talk about the seemingly simple question “How do we work together?”
Because all of these things add up in a hurry, I encourage teams to put together a rules of engagement document to make clear some of the most basic rules and interactions. I do this in conjunction with having the team determine their definition of what “done” means. Both of these items are completed prior to starting the first iteration. For maximum effectiveness have the team, managers and executives all sign the document as a sort of contract among themselves. Having executives sign the document is extremely empowering to the team and helps them recognize they have the full support of the organization to be successful!
Feel free to use my sample Rules of Engagement document for your team. If you make changes, please leave a comment here so I can consider making your change to the master document I use when I train teams. If you have questions about the document either leave a comment here or email me and I’ll try to get you an answer. This way we all can learn and improve this document for the teams that will use it in the future.
Until next time I’ll make sure teams I train use a Rules of Engagement document because it provides a lot of help in Making Agile a Reality™ for an organization.