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Ep.24 How a Social Contract can help your Agile Teams

Today: the Social Contract (SC), or as some people prefer the Social Agreement or Charter.

A SC is a set of aspirational, behaviours and social norms designed by teams, to define the way they wish to work. It becomes an agreement between team members that enables them to self-organise and be effective. It sets the expectations around team behaviour, while accommodating the individual work preferences of team members.

Being an Agile team, self-organisation doesn't mean team members get to do what they want. The SC defines the boundaries and ground rules by which the team operates and represents the majority voice.

Image credit: Dave Witney / Optus
Image credit: Dave Witney / Optus

Why use a Social Contract?

Promotes team development, improves team morale, clarity, improves collaboration & engagement, increases efficiency in task handover, and creates a shared sense of identity.

How do you use a Social Contract?

Brainstorm with the full team. Write down items you'd like to see part of the team's SC (values + norms). What do we value? What’s important? What dysfunction must we fix? Identify above the line, and below the line behaviours.

Categorise, vote and agree as a team, which items will be in the SC.

Also discuss as a team how you will respond if you notice the below the line behaviours play out. Having these discussions upfront supports the tough and uncomfortable discussions when it really matters.

Make it visible at your workplace. Refer to it when certain behaviours are not upheld! Anyone can ‘enforce’ by pointing out deviations.

The Social Contract should not be static. Reflect on it as part of your Retrospective and update as required.

This article was first posted here.


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