Monthly Archives: December 2017

How a Team Manifesto can boost collaboration

Some time ago, a team asked me to facilitate a team building workshop. While creating the workshop concept, we came across some concepts like a mission statement or a team charter.

As we talked recently about the Agile Manifesto, I thought, it might be an idea to use a part of the workshop for creating a Team Manifesto. similar to the structure of the Agile Manifesto:

  • a introduction, or preamble
  • values
  • principles
  • an epilog

Values are important for us humans: They control our behavior. They allow us to live together. And social norms/rules are derived from them.

Typically, they are very stable. We also need to think of team values and individual team member’s values. They might be conflicting.

Principles help us to live the values. They are rules and policies you adhere to.

The idea was set, but how? And which benefit do we expect? It was a kind of experiment.

For the team it was important to come to a common understanding what is important for them, how they work, how they decide.

How can we identify the team’s values?

When values are important for us, ask them what is important for them! With a nice and rich collection of sticky notes, we did some clustering and we named the clusters. The names of the clusters were often a value:values

Values are often too abstract to guide us through our working day. We need something more tangible: principles!

How can we identify the team’s principles?

The question now was: How can we live the values? Again collect, cluster, name:

principles

So, this was the first Team Manifesto. I created a wonderful wallpaper for them, they signed it all. And it went to the team’s room – visible all the time.

How the story went on

Over the time, other teams asked me to help them to create their own Team Manifesto. Building on the procedure of creating the first manifesto, I added some actions to involve all team members more actively.

1. Silent brainstorming: In regard of your work and the team, what is important for you?
2. Everybody presents the own keywords.
3. Clustering (4-6 Cluster) and naming.
4. From the keywords of each cluster, everybody forms a sentence representing the cluster best.
5. Presentation of all sentences
6. From all sentences, assemble one super sentence: The value description.
7. Loop over all clusters.

With the principles we proceed the same way – only with a different question: With the values in mind, what do you think might help you to live them?

The real fun with this procedure is puzzling out the sentences. I do it with sticky notes for each word. This allows you quickly rearrange words. Don’t forget to check each team member’s confidence with each sentence right after finishing (use thumb up/down).

Until today, I helped creating four Team Manifestos and one review (after one year).

What are the benefits of having and living a Team Manifesto?

Having a clear and common understanding of their values and principles makes discussions more precise. Decisions are not taken on a day-to-day mood but on explicit values and principles. Everybody in the team is entitled to address a violation or inobservance of values and principles – if it makes sense, it is at least done conscious and as an exception.

Maybe you can now imagine that this can boost collaboration. But it also requires discipline & commitment.

How can you create your team’s Manifesto?

I gave a talk about this on the Tools4AgileTeams conference in December 2017. There is a Youtube video available (in German only): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QFGI4PwFHY

My presentation (in German)  is available here: Team_Manifest_V2de
It also contains a guideline how to facilitate a Team Manifesto creation workshop.

Interested in an English presentation and guideline? Please contact me. Or invite me to your conference, event, …