Ground Rules for Scrum Teams
A scrum team is expected to be a self-organizing and self-managing, this means the absence of a manager. Self-Governance of the team to deliver work they have committed during the sprint planning becomes smoother if these ground rules (team agreements) are in place.
Effective Scrum Teams Agreements become very important in the face of conflict within the team. They foster a spirit of mutual responsibility on work and also act as a guide on resolving any friction within the team. These rules can broadly be divided into these categories: Logistics, Communication and conflict resolution
Creation of ground rules should be a whole team discussion and it is imperative to have team buy in on these ground rules. In certain instances, I have had team members sign the agreement and then posted them in the team room to remind everyone on the agreements they have made both on an individual level and as a team.
Ground Rules for Logistics: These include the agreement on
Location, duration and date of all the meetings i.e. Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Product Backlog Refinement, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective).
Use of electronics in these meetings (mobile phone and laptop usage).
Who updates the Product Backlog Item (PBI) after a discussion on the PBI
Agile Management Tool (Jira, VersionOne etc) update responsibility
Ground Rules for Communication:
The procedure of communication (paraphrase a question that you do not understand)
Do not use sarcasm, aggressiveness or irony in team meetings
Do not remain silent in meetings but actively participate in the meetings.
Create a judgement free environment for everyone to feel safe and comfortable to voice their concerns.
Conflict Resolution Ground Rules:
Create a “safe” word based on the team agreement and acceptance to use if someone goes off topic or is incorrect in their analysis
The “safe” word effectively does that same thing as “Hey, what are you talking about or you have no clue on what you are talking about” but research shows that the usage of the safe work is deemed less offensive and disruptive.
The team member explain your reasoning for using the “safe” word if they stop a team member.
Create an environment in the team that anyone can use the “safe” word
Remind the team that is a mutual agreement they are making on their commitments. So, it is a team effort.
These ground rules are a very effective tool to ensure smooth working of the team and ensuring that the team conflict is minimized. It is a good idea to make it a standing point of discussion in the Sprint Retrospective if anything needs to be updated on the ground rules.