January 15, 2016

Working Agreements for Agile Teams (Part 2)

  —Working agreements should be unambiguous principles.

In "Working Agreements for Agile Teams", I discuss how I prefer a working agreement to be unambiguous and not use descriptive language. One example, I provide:
We agree to use topic branches for development and merge our patches to the main line after completing unit testing and code reviews.
I pointed out that the use of "topic branch" as too descriptive but didn't provide any reason why I thought this.

In "Agile! The Good, the Hype and the Ugly", Bertrand Meyers provides an explanation of a principle. His explanation has three parts:
  • abstractness requires that a principle to be general rule and not a specific practice
  • falsifiability makes it possible for reasonable people to disagree with a principle
  • descriptiveness means it does not prescribe a behaviour.
My notion of a good working agreement fits the definition of a principle. For example, "use branches" is preferable to "use topic branches" because of its generality.  I can disagree with this agreement--do I really want the expense of a branch if I'm updating comments?

In my view a good working agreement is a principle. A quick look at Scrum Alliance shows that my thinking is not in line with many others:
Work agreements are the set of rules/disciplines/processes the team agrees to follow without fail to make themselves more efficient and successful. 
So is a working agreement a principle that reasonable people can disagree with or is it something to follow without fail?

Here is another opinion from Scrum Alliance that begs the question about the appropriate balance of interaction over process.
Scrum teams are self-organizing and cross-functional. Self-organizing teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team. To become self-organized, a team has to go through various stages of team development.
This article then goes on to list agreements for every Scrum Event.  How much prescription is too much?

Mike Cohn has something reasonable to say: Choose your rules wisely. ... Choose carefully.

I agree.
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