Stop Spinning Your Team’s Wheels: It’s Time To Revisit Your Working Agreements

1. Introduction

2. Background

3. My Story Begins

3.1 Meeting the Team — Early Observations

3.2 First Retrospective — The Uh-Oh Moment

3.3 Second Iteration — Top 10 Observations — Feedback is not Always a Gift

Table 1. Top 10 Observations

3.4 Third Iteration — Building Trust Across the Team — Finally, an ‘Aha’ Moment

  • The India team felt any negative comments with our US based teams would jeopardize their company’s relation and since this was a significant contract they had decided to withhold sharing anything that had any potential to be perceived as negative.
  • The India lead was accountable for the engagement’s business relation and as such he felt he was responsible for all conversations and didn’t want his team members to ‘say the wrong thing.’
  • Data privacy concerns restrict working conditions for offshore teams, expecting them to always be physically present in a secure room for all work and communications. No pens, pads or phones are allowed and the team is thus unable to take any notes during meetings.
  • The timing of our meetings clashed with the India team’s ability to eat dinner and they missed the window to purchase food from the cafeteria.
  • We were pushing our India team to work late due to our meeting times. This caused them to venture into unsafe territory, as it is not safe for women there to take public transportation at night.

3.5 Fourth Iteration — The Light at the End of the Tunnel — How the Scrum Values Helped with Ideation

Table 2. Questions answered by the team to come to a working agreement

3.6 Fifth Iteration — Finally, Working Agreements that Mattered to All

Our Ten Commandments

4. Reflections of the Product Owner (in her own words)

5. Results Summary — Before and After

Table 3. Before and after comparison of team roles, dynamics, and activities

6. Conclusion — What I Learned

Table 4. Lessons I Learned as a Coach

7. Acknowledgements

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