Getting new teams to work together is hard. Really. Hard.

Is it because there is so much hype around new Agile teams? Or is it because there is such a focus on “doing things right” (or “doing” Agile right), that we forget about the people actually doing the work? Regardless of the reason, before we can change the way people work... we need to focus on the things that are important for teamwork to work!

We believe that the key to high-performance teams is creating an intentional culture that respects and embraces diversity - whether it be race, gender, class, culture, age, beliefs, language, skills or background. So join us as we explore the Team Canvas – sort of like a Business Model Canvas for teamwork - covering nine essential teamwork elements:

  • Purpose - Why we are doing what we are doing?
  • People & Roles - What are our names, roles, and responsibilities?
  • Common goals - What do we as a group want to achieve together?
  • Personal goals - What do I as an individual want to achieve?
  • Team values - What do we really stand for and believe in?
  • Needs and expectations - What do each of us need to be successful in a diverse team?
  • Rules & Activities - How do we communicate and keep everyone up to date?
  • Strengths & Assets - What skills do we have in the team?
  • Weaknesses & Risks - What are the weaknesses we have, as an individual and as a team?

During this session, we walk through our agenda for team lift-offs, facilitation posters and preparation work required, materials needed, and facilitation tips and tricks. All packaged in a handy pocket guide, that you can use to explore tried and tested techniques for each essential element. You also have an opportunity to practice some of these techniques during the session.

Get ready to lift-off your team in T-minus 3... 2... 1...

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Outline/Structure of the Workshop

We ran a workshop titled "T-minus 10… 9… 8… We have lift-off!" at Agile India 2019. The original workshop allowed for the practical experience of 3 of the techniques (SMART Goals, Do It Yourself Values, "All you need is" game). This version of the workshop will allow attendees the opportunity to practice some new techniques, namely the Team Elevator Pitch Storyboard (for Purpose), 101 Responsibilities (for Roles and Responsibilities), Team Skills Pizza (for Strengths and Assets and Risks and Weaknesses), and the SMRT board game (for Common goals). So while the Team Canvas is the same, the exercises and the booklets we use are different.

As this is a practical workshop, we want to model the environment of an actual team lift-off. We will have pre-prepared posters for the techniques (for use during the workshop). Participants will also have all the techniques listed in a handy pocket guide (see attached), to serve as a reminder of the session afterward. The workshop easily scales to a large number of people - we just need to know beforehand so that we can prep the required number of table packs, and come prepared with the required number of booklets.

Lift-off Introduction: 2 min

We talk through lifting-off teams and the importance of creating an intentional team culture that respects and embraces diversity (whether it be race, gender, class, culture, age, beliefs, language, skills or background), as well as the importance of diversity in teams and why companies need to care about it. We will briefly touch on the difference between Agile Chartering and Team Chartering. During this talk, we will focus on Team Chartering.

Introduce the Team Canvas: 3 min

We introduce the Team Canvas and the 9 segments (each person will have a copy of the Team Canvas, in their booklet).

Purpose: 5 min

We explain the importance of purpose (and how it is different from a vision or mission) and take participants through some techniques to articulate purpose.
For the practical activity later: Teams will have the opportunity to create a Team Elevator Pitch storyboard - which is a visual representation of the team's elevator pitch.

People & Roles: 10 min

We talk through a technique called 101 Responsibilities and how to use this technique in a workshop.
For the practical activity later: Teams will be taught the 101 Responsibilities game which is a silent exercise to determine who does what in a sprint e.g. who create the wireframes, who creates a user interface pattern library, etc. This technique is helpful to a team who are new to an Agile way of working and are battling to figure out what they do in a sprint.

Personal Goals: 5 min

Most people will have heard of SMART goals, yet few people know how to break them down into something other than “beauty queen” statements. We briefly take participants through the SMARTER canvas to guide them towards writing great goal statements.

Common Goals: 10 min

We have created a fun game playing on the concept of “Smart Goals”. We will introduce the game and rules to the participants - focusing on how they use the game to get detailed goals and metrics. For the practical activity later: Participants have the opportunity to play the SMRT game using a poorly worded initial goal statement, together with a case study. The aim is to discuss the goal and get to a better definition by the end of the game.

Strengths & Assets | Weaknesses & Risks: 10 min

These two segments use the same technique, so we will address them together. We cover how to build a Team Skills Pizza by identifying competence level for each team member (Newbie, Intermediate, Pro) against a set of skills. For the practical activity later on: Teams build a Team Skills Pizza, as well as team development place using a case study.

Values: 5 min

We introduce a fun technique where team members identify behaviors that make teams fail and then identify behaviors that they would prefer to see in the team to make it succeed.

Needs and expectations: 5 min
We introduce participants to needs and how they can be used to deepen self-discovery and to facilitate greater understanding and connection between people. We will go through a way of helping team members express those needs to the team, as well as the expectations they have of the team to help support those needs. This is a tough conversation for many people to have (especially in diverse teams) – so we provide a practical way to create a safe environment for teams to share this information, using an approach created by the Centre for Non-Violent Communication.

Rules & Activities: 5 min
We briefly touch on the “typical working agreement” conditions that many Agile teams already have in place e.g. core working hours, when and where iteration events will take place, etc. We also include how we acknowledge and respect each other's cultural backgrounds e.g. in one of our teams, the Hindu festival of Diwali is celebrated with a traditional feast and sweetmeats, and no meetings are allowed on a Friday at midday when Muslim teammates go to the mosque for prayers.

Practical: 20 min
Each team has the opportunity to select one of the following techniques to practice (see relevant section above for information on the practical activity):

  • Team Elevator Pitch Storyboard
  • 101 Team Responsibilities
  • Team Skills Pizza
  • SMRT Game

Each table team selects which of the above techniques they would like to practice and we give them an envelope with all the relevant material - and detailed instructions - to complete that technique. We have used this format in the past and it has worked really well.

Feedback: 5 min

Questions & Closing: 5 min

Learning Outcome

  • Learn facilitation techniques that will instantly help you in your role as a facilitator or Scrum Master.
  • Stop unproductive team conflict before it starts, by discussing things that matter to the team BEFORE they start working together.
  • Get everyone on to the same page. Fast!
  • Understand the essential elements to make teamwork work.
  • How to use the Team Canvas to create an intentional team culture that respects and embraces diversity.

Target Audience

Anyone who is interested in creating a high-performance team culture

Prerequisites for Attendees

Nothing - we will provide all materials needed for the workshop, along with a handy reference guide to all the techniques we cover.

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