Yes we agreed! – definition of team behavior (exercise 2)

Once this group had gone past discussing their expectations and fears that they had about the work –  they were comfortable with each other and more open to discuss even the smallest misgivings in their minds.

Sensing their comfort level, I realized an opportunity to facilitate the following exercise to help them get to know themselves and each other more:

1. Supplies – Notecards and pens

Two parts to exercise (Part a, Part b)

a.  Each person had to write the following:

-Definition of the word “feedback”

-What does feedback means in Agile projects

-What does feedback means to them, and how would they like to received feedback

b. Once they had penned these, they needed to find a partner and “tell” them what they had written.


The partner listens.  No notes taking. Listen and look into the others’ eye.

Then the partner “tells” them what then had written.

Now they go around the room and either just  “listen” or just “talk”.


Scrum Team:  Each team member has  conveyed individually to every other member of their team how they would like to be treated; Has listened to how every other team member would like to be treated;

Scrum Master: The list of team behavior / working agreements was just growing with a deliberate intention but peacefully and with respect.

Coach: Though the coach did not hear anyones thoughts, the intention of the exercise was met – team agreements was being built artfully

Feedback  to the coach on the exercise:
(I loved how they were able to identify their listening and speaking behaviors)

The first time they spoke about how they wanted to receive feedback they were brittle and spoke in sentences;

As they continued speaking, their thoughts became more clear;

They were repeating the same words over and over again; BUT telling to different people – so it didn’t feel the same;

After talking for a few times – their words flowed smoothly and it was like telling a succinct quick story;

At the end they completely believed what they had just said and felt quite confident and comfortable with their own expectations;

Telling someone how they wanted to be treated felt good;

Knowing that they will be treated well felt good;

Raising the bar on communication felt good;

Asking felt good;

They were also listening to others’ thoughts and had to listen intently;

Purpose of the exercise:

1. In teams where there are non native English speakers – the listener had to make extra effort to pay attention to spoken language, body language, make eye contact and also listen.  phew! Too much happening in a matter of less than a couple of minutes. But they had made a start. The non native English speaker has also taken a bold step to speak to someone quickly, intimately and received respect without being commented upon.

2. Scrum requires an advanced level of respect and listening skills. We  had just laid the foundation for it even before we spoke about ceremonies or Agile foundations… and yet we were not even close to discussing daily Scrum.


Yes we agreed! – definition of team behaviour (exercise 1)

When discussing Scrum with teams, I often use the phrase:

“Definition of done – Is how you intend to treat your work, and show your relationship with it”  likewise,
“Team charter – is how you intend to treat each other and show your mutual respect for each other”

When working with new groups of people brought together for a specific purpose,  helping them create a team charter  is always an energetic exercise. It is fun and fulfilling. Their transition to becoming a team kicks off quite early on.

Here is one exercise that never fails:

Supplies:  Various colored stickies /cards , markers and white board / large note pads (just so that depleted supplies in the work areas are not a surprise)

a. Each person in the room had to write at the minimum one “behavior “they believe

-Must  happen

-Must not happen

May happen – for the work to be successful.

Please note:  These could be individual or team behavior.

Once they had this written down, all the stickies were placed on the right side of the board.

b. Without any additional discussions on what they had written, they had to quickly move to the next part.  Each team member had to write “risks” that they perceive with happen to dampen the work.

Please note: These could relate to product, people, process, environment.. anything that came to their minds.

Now these risks were placed on the left side of the board.

c. Then one person in the group volunteers ( or is invited) to pick up a random card from the left side (risks) and identify if any cards on the right side (behavior) of the board would help remove the risk. Then they had to read to the group why they matched these, and the group discussed for a few minutes.  We then went around the room and every single person had  to read a card and match with solutions.


For the team:  They were heard! Their fears and concerns were expressed, discussed, validated;  an understanding that nothing will be labeled as a “stupid question”;

For the Scrum Master: Without much pain part 1 of team behavior was generated; additional stakeholders that should have been in the session identified; escalation and communication paths realized

For the coach:  A foundation laid to further deep dive into Agile manifesto and fundamentals at the right time;