working agreement scrum


In the dynamic world of software development, where teams must navigate complex challenges and rapidly changing requirements, a well-crafted working agreement can be the cornerstone of successful collaboration. The Scrum framework, with its emphasis on transparency, inspection, and adaptation, places a strong emphasis on the importance of a shared understanding among team members. This article explores the concept of a working agreement in Scrum, its benefits, and the essential elements that contribute to its success.


What is a Working Agreement in Scrum?

A working agreement in Scrum is a set of guidelines and expectations that a Scrum team collectively establishes to govern their interactions, decision-making processes, and overall team dynamics. It serves as a living document that outlines the team’s agreed-upon norms, values, and behaviors, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal.

Benefits of Having a Working Agreement in Scrum Teams

A well-crafted working agreement offers numerous benefits to the team, and here are some of them. Firstly, it fosters improved collaboration by fostering a sense of shared responsibility and ownership among team members. This encourages them to work together more effectively. Additionally, the working agreement promotes increased transparency by establishing clear guidelines and expectations. Thereby reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings and conflicts. Furthermore, it enhances accountability by holding team members accountable for their actions and commitments. This ensures that everyone contributes to the team’s success. Moreover, the working agreement facilitates efficient decision-making by providing a framework for making decisions, streamlining the process and reducing the time spent on resolving conflicts. Lastly, it promotes adaptability and continuous improvement. It can be regularly reviewed and updated, allowing the team to adapt to changing circumstances and continuously improve their practices.

Elements of a Successful Working Agreement

A successful working agreement in Scrum should encompass the following key elements:

  1. Communication Norms: Agreements on how the team will communicate, such as the preferred channels, frequency, and response times.
  2. Meeting Agreements: Guidelines for conducting effective meetings, including start/end times, agenda items, and decision-making processes.
  3. Conflict Resolution: Established procedures for addressing and resolving conflicts within the team.
  4. Roles and Responsibilities: Clear definitions of each team member’s roles, responsibilities, and decision-making authority.
  5. Feedback and Continuous Improvement: Agreements on how the team will provide and receive feedback, as well as continuously improve their processes.
  6. Shared Values and Behaviors: Agreements on the team’s core values, such as respect, trust, and collaboration, and the expected behaviors that align with these values.

What is the Difference Between Team Charter and Working Agreement?

While a team charter and a working agreement share some similarities, they serve distinct purposes. A team charter is a more formal and comprehensive document that outlines the team’s purpose, goals, and high-level operating principles. It’s typically created at the inception of a team to serve as a guiding framework for its work. In contrast, a working agreement is a more detailed and dynamic document that focuses on the day-to-day interactions and collaborative practices of the team. It is collaboratively developed and regularly updated by the team members to ensure its ongoing relevance and effectiveness in guiding their activities.

scrum team working agreement

How to Create a Working Agreement for Your Scrum Team

Creating a working agreement for a Scrum team involves several sequential steps. Firstly, facilitate a team discussion during a dedicated team meeting. This helps to address the team’s current challenges, pain points, and desired ways of working. Secondly, based on the insights gathered from the team discussion, identify the key elements that should be included in the working agreement. For example, communication norms, meeting agreements, and conflict resolution procedures. Thirdly, invite the team to engage in collaborative drafting of the working agreement. This helps ensuring that everyone’s input is considered and incorporated into the document. Next, facilitate a consensus-building process where the team members collectively agree on the content and wording of the working agreement. Lastly, schedule periodic reviews of the working agreement to allow the team to make adjustments as needed, ensuring that it remains relevant and effective in guiding their interactions and practices.

Examples of Common Working Agreements in Scrum

Here are some examples of common working agreements in Scrum:

  1. Communication Norms:
    • Team members will respond to messages within 24 hours.
    • All important decisions and discussions will be documented in the team’s collaboration tool.
    • Team members will provide updates on their work during the daily standup.
  2. Meeting Agreements:
    • Meetings will start and end on time.
    • Agenda items will be shared in advance, and everyone is expected to come prepared.
    • All team members will have an equal opportunity to contribute to discussions.
  3. Conflict Resolution:
    • Team members will address conflicts directly with the individuals involved.
    • If a conflict cannot be resolved, the Scrum Master will facilitate a discussion to find a resolution.
    • The team will strive to find win-win solutions and avoid blaming or criticizing team members.
  4. Roles and Responsibilities:
    • The Product Owner is responsible for prioritizing the Product Backlog and communicating the product vision.
    • The Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating the team’s processes and removing impediments.
    • Developers are responsible for delivering high-quality work and collaborating with the team.
  5. Shared Values and Behaviors:
    • We value open and honest communication, even when it’s difficult.
    • We treat each other with respect and kindness, and we assume good intentions.
    • We are committed to continuous learning and improvement.

Implementing and Enforcing the Working Agreement

Implementing and enforcing the working agreement is crucial to its success, and here are some key steps to achieve that. Firstly, ensure effective communication and socialization of the working agreement to the entire team. These ensure that everyone understands and agrees to it. Secondly, integrate the working agreement into the team’s daily practices. For instance, the daily standup, retrospectives, and other team meetings, embedding its principles into the team’s routine.

Furthermore, the Scrum Master and other team leaders should lead by example, modeling the behaviors and practices outlined in the working agreement. They should set a positive tone for the rest of the team to follow. Additionally, when team members violate the working agreement, address the issue promptly and constructively. Focus on finding solutions rather than assigning blame. Finally, regularly review and adapt the working agreement by periodically soliciting feedback from the team. Moreover, make necessary adjustments to ensure its continued relevance and effectiveness.

The Goal of the Working Agreement

The primary goal of a working agreement in Scrum is to foster a collaborative, productive, and harmonious team environment. By establishing a shared understanding of the team’s norms, values, and expectations, the working agreement helps to:

  1. Align Team Members: Ensure that all team members are on the same page and working towards a common goal.
  2. Enhance Productivity: Streamline decision-making, reduce conflicts, and improve overall team efficiency.
  3. Promote Accountability: Hold team members accountable for their actions and commitments, contributing to the team’s overall success.
  4. Facilitate Continuous Improvement: Provide a framework for the team to regularly review and adapt their practices, enabling continuous growth and development.
kanban throughput

The Role of the Scrum Master

The Scrum Master plays a crucial role in maintaining the working agreement within the Scrum team. Firstly, they facilitate the creation of the working agreement, ensuring that the team’s input is captured and that the agreement reflects their collective needs and preferences. Additionally, the Scrum Master closely monitors the team’s adherence to the working agreement, identifying any deviations or violations and addressing them promptly. Moreover, they encourage adaptability by urging the team to regularly review and update the working agreement, ensuring its ongoing relevance and effectiveness as the team’s needs evolve. Furthermore, the Scrum Master fosters a sense of ownership among the team members, encouraging them to take an active role in maintaining and enforcing the working agreement. Lastly, they provide coaching and guidance to the team, assisting them in navigating any challenges or conflicts that may arise in relation to the working agreement.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Working Agreement

Regularly evaluating the effectiveness of the working agreement is crucial to ensuring its continued relevance and impact. Some key aspects to consider when evaluating the working agreement include:

  1. Team Feedback: Solicit feedback from the team members on the working agreement, asking for their perspectives on what’s working well, what needs improvement, and any suggestions for changes.
  2. Adherence to Agreements: Assess the team’s adherence to the agreements outlined in the working agreement, identifying any areas where the team is consistently falling short.
  3. Impact on Team Dynamics: Observe the team’s interactions and decision-making processes to gauge the impact of the working agreement on the overall team dynamics and collaboration.
  4. Alignment with Scrum Values: Ensure that the working agreement is aligned with the core values of Scrum, such as transparency, inspection, and adaptation.
  5. Continuous Improvement: Use the insights gained from the evaluation to update and refine the working agreement, ensuring that it remains a living and effective tool for the team.

Challenges and Solutions

While a well-crafted working agreement can be a powerful tool for Scrum teams, maintaining it can also present some challenges. Here are some common challenges and potential solutions:

  1. Resistance to Change: Some team members may be resistant to changing their established ways of working, making it difficult to implement the working agreement.
    • Solution: Involve the team in the creation and refinement of the working agreement, fostering a sense of ownership and buy-in.
  2. Inconsistent Adherence: Team members may not consistently adhere to the agreements, undermining the effectiveness of the working agreement.
    • Solution: Regularly review the working agreement, address violations promptly, and reinforce the importance of adherence.
  3. Lack of Adaptability: The working agreement may become outdated or irrelevant as the team’s needs and circumstances change.
    • Solution: Implement a regular review and update process, allowing the team to adapt the working agreement as needed.
  4. Unclear Roles and Responsibilities: Ambiguity around team members’ roles and responsibilities can lead to confusion and conflict.
    • Solution: Clearly define each team member’s roles and responsibilities within the working agreement.
  5. Difficulty in Enforcement: The Scrum Master or other team leaders may struggle to enforce the working agreement effectively.
    • Solution: Empower the entire team to take ownership of the working agreement and hold each other accountable.

By addressing these challenges and implementing effective solutions, Scrum teams can maintain a robust and adaptable working agreement that supports their collaborative efforts and drives their overall success.



In the dynamic world of Scrum, a well-crafted working agreement is a vital tool for fostering successful collaboration among team members. By establishing a shared understanding of norms, values, and expectations, the working agreement helps to align the team, enhance productivity, promote accountability, and facilitate continuous improvement.

To learn more about how to create and maintain a successful working agreement for your Scrum team, read our articles Scrum Process in Agile: A Comprehensive Guide to Success and also Scrum for Distributed Teams: Empowering Collaboration.

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