Team charter

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…a group of people or animals linked in a unity of purpose.

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Self-organization is both powerful and efficient and does not require management. How do you steer a swarm, though?


Set up a light-weight and comprehensive document that outlines values, behavior, principles and practices for the crew. Over time, evolve it into one or more excellence guides and a codex.

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Self-organizing Team

  • Team—A group of people or animals linked in a unity of purpose, and preferably a stable team.
  • Self-organization is the tendency of an open system to generate new structures and patterns based on its own internal dynamics. Organization design is not imposed from above or outside; it emerges from the interactions of the agents in the system. Facilitating Organization Change: Lessons from Complexity Science
  • Three factors influence the patterns that emerge:
    1. The container sets the bounds for the self-organizing system. It defines the “self” that organizes.
    2. Significant differences determine the primary patterns that emerges (power, level of expertise, gender, …).
    3. Transforming exchanges form the connections between system agents.
  • “Just as a person needs time and space to incubate thoughts before a new Idea can emerge, a system needs a bounded space for the emergence of new patterns.”

You deliver services


Your team provides services to external or internal ‘upstream’ customers. You pull in those service requests from these sources, process them and pass them on ‘downstream’, to other teams or units in the organization, or back to the original source.

The key questions are, “What business are you in?”, and “What are you serving?”—more important than “Who are you serving?”. Think about the services you provide and how you manage that.

All work flows through a series of information discovery activities.

To find out what services you provide, where the requests come from, and where they go after you are done, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who are your customers? (consider creating vibrant personas of your customers)
  2. What do they ask for? (What are their needs and goals?)
  3. What do you do to the requests?
  4. Where do they go when you are finished with them?

These questions solicit work item types and work flow as well as destination. Together they represent the framework for a service interface.

Next, augment this set of questions with supplementary questions to solicit expectations and classes of service. What do your customers expect with respect to speed, quality, predictability, conformance to regulations or safety standards? Use all of this information to understand the service level expectations (SLEs) and from that, when required, look to design your delivery systems to deliver specific service level agreements (SLAs) for each work item type.


What is a Team Charter?

Project Charter vs. Team Charter

  • In classical project management often a project charter is used to define the project goal, scope, and the definition of success. Normally it is defined from upper management.
  • In scrum, it is typically covered by the product vision.


  • The team writes, takes responsibility for, and owns its charter.
  • Scrum Master and Product Owner provide input.
  • For a particular organization, there might be mandatory entries, such as:
    • technology choices; and/or
    • governance compliancy requirements; and/or
    • CMMI requirements.

Team Values

Epiphany from @UriGneezy don't just make your values explicit, signal them by embedding them into small incentives #lkna16 You want to know the ethos within your group so that you can talk about them, make sure everyone lives the ethos and is accountable for. Therefore, collect three to five deeply rooted core values of the group.

Basic Agreements


  • Daily Scrum from 09:30, Malpitas Conference Room
  • Product Backlog Refining: every Tuesday, 10:00–12:00
  • Bi-weekly:
    • Sprint Review: Wednesday 14:00
    • Sprint Retrospective: Wednesday 16:00
    • Sprint Planning: Thursday 10:00
  • Royalty Points for being on time: 10
  • Three times late in same sprint? Bring a home made cake to Retrospective.

Planning & Estimation

  • User Stories in Story Points
  • Tasks in less than 1Ž4 day
  • Tasks no larger than 2 days
  • Planning Poker

Technology Rules

Engineering Rules

  • TDD
  • New Code:
    • Write JUnit before coding
    • Write code until test succeeds
    • Refactor code
  • Bug detected:
    • Write test to reproduce bug
    • Fix code
    • Refactor code
    • Acceptance test in Selenium and FitNesse

Team Norms & Communication Rules

  • Respectful communication
  • Active listening
  • Expectations of PO:
    • Present at ≥ 50% of Daily Scrums
    • Chance for interaction with team directly after
    • Feedback within one workday
    • Response to questions within one workday


  • Ready
    • During each sprint
      • Requirement workshop
      • Estimation meeting
      • Time for research
  • Done
    • Task
      • Coded
      • Unit tested
      • Reviewed
      • Documented (Javadoc)
      • Check in in trunk
      • Integrated
    • Story
      • Acceptance criteria fulfilled (automated test)
      • User documentation updated
      • Integrated (automated tests run in Hudson)
      • Formally accepted by PO
    • Increment
      • All story tests passed
      • Installation scripts updated
      • Deployed in system integration environment
      • Release Notes updated
      • Regression tests passed

Creating a Team Charter

  • Dedicated workshop before the first sprint, facilitated brainstorm
  • Team decides
  • Integrate organizational needs
  • Multiple teams?

Anti Patterns

  • Dictated by management or Comes from coach
    • Team does not internalize the charter because they don't own it
    • “…organizing a self-organizing system is not only an oxymoron, it will very likely throw a spanner in the works.”—Harrison Owen, Wave Rider: **Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizaing World
  • Not enough time
  • Too detailed
  • “Simple, clear purpose…”—Dee Hock
  • “company culture, not rulez”, “Lead DoD”—team members during coaching


  • Uncovers unclear expectations and ambiguous goals
  • Common understanding if work
  • Functional communication inside and outside the team
  • Helps forming the team
  • Defines a container so that self-organizing can emerge

To process

From Creating creative teams by Susan Wheelan on High Performance, based on research of 700 teams.

  • Groups need accurate and frequent feedback about their performance so that they can learn to help themselves.
  • Needless to say, research does not suggest that rock climbing, whitewater rafting, blind trust walks, or donkey basketball increases productivity in any way.
  • In any case, there is no evidence that they facilitate changes in group effectiveness or productivity.'
  • …although more research is needed, if the intervention includes goal setting, performance feedback, and attention to group development issues, it will work better than other approaches.
  • …it is best to use interventions that use these three elements.'
  • Belbin roles may help to balance character composition.