Agile working agreement is a crucial component of successful teamwork in the realm of project management. In this article, we will explore its key elements, delve into its role in teamwork, and discuss the importance of consensus building. Additionally, we will provide actionable steps to create, maintain, and measure the impact of an agile working agreement.

Understanding Agile Working Agreement

An agile working agreement serves as a set of guidelines that facilitates effective communication, collaboration, and decision-making within an agile team. It outlines the team's values, norms, and customary practices, helping team members align their behaviors and expectations.

Typically, these agreements serve as more than just a formality. They serve as a foundation for establishing a healthy work environment where everyone feels heard, respected, and valued. Because they are not set in stone and can be adapted at any time, teams can feel free to evolve and improve their ways of working over time.

Key Elements of Agile Working Agreement

An agile working agreement typically encompasses various key elements that address specific aspects of teamwork. These elements may include:

  • Clear communication channels and expectations: This defines how team members should communicate with each other, whether it's through regular meetings, instant messaging platforms, or email. It also sets expectations for response times, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and can collaborate efficiently.
  • Team values and principles: This may call for transparency, accountability, continuous improvement, and a customer-centric mindset. Explicitly stating these values helps create a sense of purpose and direction for the team.
  • Roles and responsibilities: This outlines who is responsible for what tasks, who should be consulted for specific decisions, and who has the final authority. The goal is to prevent duplication of efforts so that everyone knows their areas of focus.
  • Meeting norms and processes: This establishes meeting norms and processes to ensure that meetings are productive and efficient. It covers aspects such as meeting frequency, duration, agenda setting, and participation expectations. 
  • Decision-making frameworks: This clarifies whether decisions will be made by consensus, through a designated leader, or based on expert opinions. The purpose is to avoid decision paralysis so that the team can move forward with confidence.
  • Conflict resolution strategies: These are tactics that team members can utilize when disagreements arise. It encourages open and constructive dialogue, active listening, and finding win-win solutions. 

The word "team" spelled out

The Importance of Building Consensus

Consensus building is a fundamental process for establishing agreement and achieving shared goals within agile teams. It involves actively seeking input from team members, facilitating discussions, and finding common ground. Building consensus fosters ownership, commitment, and a sense of collective responsibility among team members, resulting in better collaboration and outcomes.

When team members reach an agreement through consensus, it creates a sense of shared purpose and reduces the chances of misunderstandings and conflicts. With everyone on board, the team can move forward with a unified vision and make decisions more efficiently. Agreement empowers individuals to contribute their unique perspectives, promotes a sense of belonging, and encourages proactive participation.

However, consensus building can be a complex process, as it requires balancing the diverse opinions, values, and priorities of team members. It is essential to establish an environment where open dialogue and respectful communication flourish. Facilitating active listening, encouraging constructive feedback, and providing opportunities for compromise are essential in overcoming challenges to building consensus. Acknowledging and addressing individual concerns and ensuring equal participation from all team members fosters a sense of inclusion and supports the consensus-building process.

Steps to Create an Agile Working Agreement

Creating an agile working agreement involves a systematic approach to capture team values, establish guidelines, and promote consensus. Here are some steps to consider:

Identifying Team Values and Norms

Engage the team in a collaborative discussion to identify the values and norms that they collectively believe are essential for successful collaboration. Encourage team members to share their perspectives and experiences, and facilitate a dialogue to align on shared values and norms that will guide the team's actions.

  • Create a safe and inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions. Each team member should have an opportunity to contribute and be heard. 
  • Team values can vary depending on the nature of the project and the individuals involved. Some common values that teams often prioritize include transparency, trust, accountability, collaboration, and continuous improvement. 
  • Consider the norms that the team wants to establish. Norms are the unwritten rules that govern how team members interact with one another. They can include guidelines for communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution.

Establishing Agreement Guidelines

Based on the identified values and norms, work together to define specific guidelines for communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution. Ensure that the guidelines are clear, actionable, and reflective of the team's unique dynamics and context.

  • Consider the different communication channels that the team will use. This can include face-to-face meetings, virtual collaboration tools, and written documentation. 
  • Discuss and decide on the decision-making framework that your team will follow. This can include methods such as consensus, voting, or delegation. 
  • Establish a process for resolving conflicts in a constructive and respectful manner. This can involve techniques such as active listening, mediation, or seeking input from a neutral third party.
  • Regularly review and update the working agreement as the team evolves and new challenges arise. The working agreement should be a living document that adapts to the changing needs and dynamics of the team. 

Team huddled around a laptop

Maintaining and Updating Your Agile Working Agreement

An agile working agreement is not a static document. It needs regular review and revision to remain relevant and effective. By periodically revisiting the agreement, team members can evaluate its efficacy, address any emerging issues, and incorporate feedback from new team members. You will also want to address any changes and conflicts in the agreement, as your team evolves.

  • Set a cadence for reviewing the agile working agreement, such as during sprint retrospectives or team meetings.
  • Encourage open discussions on the effectiveness of the agreement and solicit feedback from all team members.
  • Consider iterative improvements based on insights gained from team experiences.
  • When conflicts arise, engage in constructive dialogue and seek consensus to resolve disagreements.
  • Consider conducting team workshops or training sessions to address emerging needs or challenges, and update the agreement accordingly.

Measuring the Impact of Agile Working Agreement

Regularly evaluating the impact of the agile working agreement helps teams gauge its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments. Assessing team performance and satisfaction provides valuable insights into the degree to which the agreement is supporting the team's goals and facilitating collaboration.

  • Utilize metrics and feedback mechanisms to assess team performance and satisfaction levels.
    • Measure factors such as productivity, speed of delivery, customer satisfaction, and team morale.
    • Gather feedback through surveys, retrospectives, or one-on-one discussions to gather insights into how the agile working agreement is influencing the team's outcomes.
  • Reflect on the impact of the agile working agreement by considering whether it has enhanced collaboration, communication, and decision-making within the team.
    • Evaluate if it has helped in resolving conflicts effectively and if team members feel engaged and aligned.
    • Use these assessments to identify areas for improvement and refine the agreement accordingly.

Build Consensus with Wrike

Building a consensus with Agile Working Agreement is like drawing a blueprint for a building. It sets the foundation for a harmonious and productive team. However, creating and managing these agreements for multiple teams can be challenging.

This is where Wrike comes in. Within Wrike, you can easily create folders for each team or agreement. These folders can serve as a place where you can store the agreement details, team feedback, and even your revision logs. This structured approach brings clarity and consensus to your team, much like a well-drawn blueprint.

And when it comes to the other documents and workflows your business needs — whether it's team communication or sprint planning — Wrike has you covered with powerful project management features and ready-to-use Agile templates. Ready to build consensus within your team? Try Wrike for free today.

Note: This article was created with the assistance of an AI engine. It has been reviewed and revised by our team of experts to ensure accuracy and quality.