Working agreements - a great tool for taking teams quickly from storming to norming

We've started using 'Working agreements' at iflix over the last few months. These team building tools have been around for ever, but for some reason I have never used them before. Working agreements are the working processes and standards/rules the team all agree to follow.
Simply these can be about how a team organise work or generally interact with each other. Working agreements can be set at any time in a teams formation and can consist of something as simple as "Stand - up is at 9.30 sharp". If you've worked with agile (or any teams) in the past, you probably have a set of norms already. The secret sauce here is being explicit and making the norms visible.
Working agreements should then end up becoming embedded as Team Norms. At iflix, we try to define these team norms at formation of teams, or when we move a team onto agile processes. The team gets together and comes up with a list of norms they all agree on. There is no predetermined list but typically norms can be:
  • Stand up time
  • Definition of done
  • Processes around handovers from one lane to the next
  • Punishments for breaking team rules
I've used a lot of different methods to help a team define the working agreements. The simplest is facilitate a session, explain the basics of a working agreement and gather ideas from the team on working agreements they'd like to propose. I've used post it notes and asked teams to group them on a board. We can then vote for the top 3 and start from there. These can of course be added to over time, but I find 3 is a good starting point.
The important part is that everyone on the team signs up to each agreement. Once these are agreed upon, they're written up somewhere and made visible. It's a good practice to stick them near the team board and review regularly.
Below are some examples of team norms here at iflix. As you can see they vary from team to team and can be quite simple.

As the team starts to gel, they review these norms, debate the value and keep or change them as needed. Team norms are a really effective retro topic too, bring the norms to a room and do a 'keep, change, add or cull' retro around them.
There are lots of blog posts on 'working agreements' or 'agile team norms' so I'd recommend doing a google search. We've found them to be an excellent team building and 'inspect and adapt' tool, and I thoroughly recommend them.
Here are some links that I found useful:


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