As Agile continues to grow in the DC region, many new scrum masters find themselves working with established teams. But how do you go about standing up a new team? This session outlines strategies for building a strong foundation for new teams, including tips and tools for a successful team kickoff, creating working agreements, and the parts of a team charter. The session ends with tips for moving forward with your newly-minted team as you move into your first sprint.

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Outline/structure of the Session

1. Introduction
     A. Encourage attendee participation to discuss some of the challenges/concerns Scrum Masters may face when starting a new team

1)  May include:

a. Team members with little or no knowledge of agile principles

b. Team members who are new to working in a team (loss of independence, responsibility to other team members)

c. Being held accountable to others for work           

d. Committing to concrete goals           

e. Scrum Masters who don't know how to help a new team start to "gel" -- they don't teach you how to stand up a team in Scrum Master certification class!
2. How a kickoff meeting and team charter can help new teams, and how to prepare  

A. A charter can help:

1) Foster understanding of the team’s purpose

2) Consciously develop team norms (norms will develop whether consciously or unconsciously. This way we can shape them.)       

3) Build a pattern of interaction and implicit understanding       

4) Develop a shared approach to work (“how we do things”)
B. Review parts of a team charter:       

1) Team definition/purpose       

2) Cadences     

 3) Tools       

4) Team values       

5) Working Agreements       

6) Definition of Done

3. In-depth discussion of the parts of a charter:   

A. Before the kickoff:       

1) Find out as much as you can about the team members       

2) Names of team members       

3) Whether they know each other or have worked together before       

4) Whether the team will be co-located or distributed       

5) What is the makeup of the team (devs, testers, PO, etc.)       

6) Schedule the kickoff at a time when the whole team (including PO) can attend       

7) SM’s job is to facilitate the discussion, NOT to dictate

B. At kickoff: Team member introduction and roles

1) Consider doing an ice-breaker/get-to-know-you exercise

2) What roles will people play on the team? Are there any specific competencies that would be helpful to know?

C. Purpose of the team

1) What will the team be working on?

2) How does that fit into the larger organizational structure and goals?

3) What is the team's name?

D. Establish Cadences       

1) How long are sprints?        

2) What is the release cadence?       

3) When will we conduct ceremonies? (planning, grooming, retro, etc.)       

4) When is daily standup?

E. Agree on Tools

1) What tools will we use for feature and story tracking? For development? 

2) Will you have a physical board or a virtual one?

3) What additional tools will we use for collaboration and documentation? (Video conferencing, wiki, etc.)

F. Team values 

1) Values are different from working agreements 

2) Values are statements of what is important

3) Values may guide behavior, but are not rules

4) Examples: Our team values work-life balance; we value on-time delivery with zero defects

5) Working agreements are protocols that the team develops and agrees to follow   

6) The goal is to forge commitment and a shared approach so that the team can meet its goals       

7) Example: Team discussions remain within the team

G. Working agreements

1 ) Discuss how team agrees to work together

2) How will team treat each other? (ie, respecting differing opinions)

3) Rules for meetings (ie, start on time, no phones, respect time boxes)

4) What is the team communication plan? (ie, face-to-face over email or IM)

5) Core working hours (when team can be expected to co-locate or otherwise be in available) – PO should be included in this!

H. Definition of Done

1) Each Scrum Team has its own Definition of Done

2) “The Definition of Done drives the quality of work and is used to assess when a User Story has been completed.” – ScrumInc.   

3) Example: Every task in the story is complete; tests and other related work are attached to the story so the PO can review it; etc.

4) Show additional examples of DoD

4. Conclusion - Q&A

Learning Outcome


Participants will gain knowledge of  how to use a team charter to give new teams a strong foundation.



Target Audience

New scrum masters or team members, or anyone starting or participating in a new team.


Participants should have basic knowledge of scrum, and some experience with working with a scrum team.

schedule Submitted 1 year ago

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  • George Dinwiddie
    By George Dinwiddie  ~  1 year ago
    reply Reply

    Hi, Karla,

    It would be helpful to the reviewers if you'd give a bit more detail in the outline/structure. What sort of things do you include in a team charter and working agreements? How do you go about building these things?

     - George

    • Karla Haworth
      By Karla Haworth  ~  1 year ago
      reply Reply

      Hi George, I added an outline (insofar as the software would let me). Please let me know if you'd like additional information. 

    • Kumar Dattatreyan and Karla Haworth
      reply Reply

      Thanks, George, I will add more detail this evening after work.

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