Steps: Self-Directed agile


  1. Prepare to Empower:
    1. Gain Buy-In
    2. Gather Information
    3. Turn Over Administration
  2. Kick Off the Process:
    1. Set Meeting Schedule
    2. Hold Manager Discussion
    3. Adopt Meeting Rules
    4. Create Document Repository
  3. Charter the Team:
    1. Make Introductions
    2. Write Team Description
    3. List Stakeholders
    4. Choose a Mission
    5. Create Code of Conduct
    6. Define Work Roles
    7. Define Facilitator Role
    8. Define Scribe Role
    9. Define Other Team Roles
  4. Team Processes:
    1. Procedure Creation Steps
    2. Create Work Management Procedure
    3. Create Member Conflicts Procedure
    4. Create Progress Reporting Procedure
    5. Create New Member Orientation Procedure
    6. Create Other Procedures
    7. Define Work Processes
  5. Do a Little Planning:
    1. Create Communications Plan
    2. Start Continuous Improvement Plan
    3. Finalize Drafts
    4. Verify Approval

Prepare to Empower

Gain Buy-In

  1. Prepare a presentation.
    Note: See the “Gain Buy-in” text for content sources.
  2. At a team meeting, deliver the presentation and briefly review the sections on creating a Team Charter and Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP).
  3. Answer the team’s questions.
  4. Ask the team members if they are willing to create a charter and CIP.
  5. If the group does not agree immediately:
    1. Reschedule a follow-up meeting at the attendees’ desired timing.
    2. At the follow-up, address further objections or questions.
    3. Repeat main steps 2–4 as needed to obtain support from the majority of members.

Details: “Gain Buy-in.”

Gather Information

Gather links or locations of all of the following that is available:

  • Mission, value, and goal statements of your company or organization and the unit(s) of which the team is a part.
  • Employee handbook and/or company policy site.
  • Process diagrams for the team’s work.
  • Results of any employee and customer satisfaction surveys, as specific to the team as possible.
  • Any objective data about the team’s performance. Examples include:
    • Work performance data (see “Example performance standards.”)
    • Past performance relative to project plans.
    • Turnover (how often someone leaves the team each year, for any reason).
    • Sick days taken each year.
  • Externally imposed standards, if any, related to the team’s work: ISO 9000, customer quality standards, government and/or contract requirements, etc.

Details: “Gather Information

Turn Over Administration

Team Manager, before the team begins its training:

  1. Download the “Administrative Tasks Checklist.”
  2. Complete the list, conferring with your upper managers and Human Resources Department as needed.
  3. Provide your completed copy to whoever is facilitating the self-direction effort, and be ready to discuss it with the team.
  4. Create reminders for six months and one year from now for you to review the checklist to see if the indicated tasks have been transferred.
  5. Post the checklist somewhere obvious in your office, both as a reminder for you and to show the team it is important to you.

Details: “Turn Over Administration

Kick Off the Process

Set Meeting Schedule

  1. Decide on an initial meeting frequency (at least weekly).
  2. If your company uses an online calendar tool, use it to choose a day and a time that works best.
  3. If not:
    1. Ask people for their “schedule gaps,” the times they are generally available during the day.
    2. Write those on the board to identify overlaps.
    3. Choose a day and time.
  4. Schedule the first meeting.

Details: “Meeting Schedule

Hold Manager Discussion

Note: The manager must have completed the Administrative Tasks Checklist and be in the meeting.

  1. Have the manager go over the following for the team:
    • Team purpose.
    • Desired performance goals.
    • Administrative Tasks Checklist.
    • Team parameters (or “boundaries,” what the team should not be doing).
  2. Allow members to question anything they have concerns about.

Note: The manager should not continue past this point.

Details: “Manager Discussion

Adopt Meeting Rules

  1. Review the rules on the “Meeting Facilitation” page.
  2. Ask if the team can agree to follow them on a trial basis.
  3. If there are major objections to any of the rules, negotiate a change that will make the rule acceptable.
    Note: Remind the team it is only trying these rules for now, and will have a chance to change them after seeing how they work for the group.
  4. Ask if anyone knows another meeting time-waster that should be addressed.
  5. If so, negotiate a rule to address it.
  6. Record the set for inclusion in the Team Charter as a “Mission Rules” section (after completing the next step set).

Create Document Repository

  1. Choose one or more people who will create the Team Charter and/or Continuous Improvement Plan containing the team’s decisions.
  2. Decide where team documents are going to be stored.

Details: “Document Repository

Charter the Team

Make Introductions

Read the “Introductions” section aloud. Then project this list for people to follow or copy reminders to a white board. Go around the room, and in addition to their name if new members are present, have each share about themselves:

  • Your official job title.
  • A short description of how you spend your work day.
  • How long you have been with the company.
  • How long you have been in your current job.
  • Previous jobs you held in the company, if any.
  • Where you worked or went to school before joining the company.
  • Your hometown.
  • What you like to do when you are not at work—hobbies, family, sports, volunteer work, etc.

Maximum: 5 minutes per member.

Details: “Introductions

Write Team Description

  1. Facilitate a discussion to create a one- to two-sentence description of the team.
    Note: This describes what the team is, not a “mission statement” or what it wants to be.
  2. Add a “Team Description” section to the Team Charter with this information.

Example: “Overview” on page 1 of the “Sample Team Charter.”

Details: “Team Description

List Stakeholders

  1. Write the stakeholder types from the section linked below on a white board.
  2. Name each of your stakeholders (using team names, group names or titles).
  3. Add a “Stakeholders” section to the charter with this information.

Details: “Stakeholders

Choose a Mission

  1. Write the enterprise’s mission statement and any division missions on the board.
  2. Review the stakeholder’s list and ask whether the team should get input on the team’s mission from any of them.
    Note: If so, set an action item for getting that input, and defer this topic to the next meeting. It is okay to go to the next set of steps without having the mission written.
  3. Create a draft mission statement.
    Suggestion: Ask yourselves, “What do you want to achieve? In other words, why does this team exist?”
  4. Facilitate a discussion to complete your mission statement.
    Note: If the team has trouble, use a technique from “Solution Creativity” and/or “Decision-Making” on the Radical Agilist site.
  5. Add a “Mission” section with the statement to the charter with this information.

Example: “Mission” on page 1 of the “Sample Team Charter.”

Details: “Mission

Create Code of Conduct

  1. Write on the board the team’s list of answers to this question: “Thinking back over your whole work life, what kinds of things do co-workers do that drive you crazy?”
  2. Delete, combine, and revise the items to a list of no more than ten behaviors.
  3. Reword these into rules.
    Example: If the item was, “People interrupting each other instead of listening,” your rule might be, “Wait until someone finishes their point to speak.”
  4. (Optional) Group and label these according to values.
    Example: The rule in the previous example might fall under the category of “Respect.”
  5. Add a “Code of Conduct” section to the charter (or whatever name the team prefers, such as “Values” or “Team Rules”).

Example: “Values” on page 1 of the “Sample Team Charter.”

Details: “Code of Conduct

Define Work Roles

  1. If the company has official job descriptions for people on the team, set action items for:
    1. Someone to gather copies and send them to everyone on the team at least two business days before the next meeting.
    2. Everyone to review their descriptions.
  2. At the meeting, create bullet-list descriptions for each job role represented on the team, no more than seven items each.
  3. Add a “Roles” section to the charter with this information.

Example: “Roles” on page 2 of the “Sample Team Charter” (table includes the next two roles as well).

Details: “Work Roles

Define Facilitator Role

  1. Answer:
    1. Are all members willing to try the role at least once, or just some volunteers (as many as possible)?
    2. If the latter, who volunteers?
    3. How often do you want to rotate?
    4. What order do the facilitators want to take turns in?
      Example: Alphabetical by last name.
  2. Assign the role for the next meeting.
  3. Add this information to the “Roles” section of the charter.
  4. Set an action item for the next facilitator to read the “Meeting Facilitation” page.
  5. Repeat the Step 4 action item for each person before their first turn as Facilitator.

Note: The person leading this “Self-Directed Agile” effort should continue to facilitate those portions of the meetings.

Details: Facilitator.

Define Scribe Role

  1. Answer:
    1. Are all members willing to take the role, or just some volunteers (as many as possible)?
    2. If the latter, who volunteers?
    3. How often do you want to rotate?
    4. On what schedule do you want to rotate?:
      Tip: If everyone takes the role, consider having the next-round Facilitator serve as the Scribe in the previous round.
  2. Assign the role for the next meeting.
  3. Add this information to the “Roles” section of the charter.
  4. Set an action item for the next Scribe to read the section linked below.
  5. Repeat the Step 4 action item for each person before their first turn as Scribe.

Details: Scribe.

Define Other Team Roles

  1. Answer: Are there other team roles you think need to be created?
    Tip: For ideas, see the Administrative Tasks Checklist.
  2. Create a “job description” of the role, preferably a bullet-list description of no more than seven items.
  3.  Answer:
    1. Do you want all members to take the role, or just those who volunteer?
    2. If the latter, who volunteers?
    3. How often do you want to rotate?
    4. On what schedule do you want to rotate?
  4. If the role is not rotated, decide who will take it.
  5. Add this information to the “Roles” section of the charter.

Details: Other Roles.

Team Processes

Procedure Creation Steps

Use these steps to create any of the procedures described further down:

  1. If a related procedure document already exists:
    1. Read through the procedure with the team.
    2. Answer: “Does this reflect the way things really happen?”
    3. If so, the team’s procedure should just say “See company procedure” and note any team-specific information.
    4. If not, have the team indicate the differences, and include the revised procedure as the team procedure.
  2. If there is no procedure, or if the existing procedure is out of date, start the discussion by asking:
    1. What triggers this action?
      Example: If you were creating an “Equipment Selection” procedure, your question might be, “What event causes us to start looking for new equipment?” The trigger becomes the first step in the procedure.
    2. What happens (or “should happen”) next?
      Suggestion: Focus first on recording how things happen now. Use that as a starting point for improving the process later.
    3. Repeat the previous question until all steps are covered for producing the deliverable.
  3. When done, answer: Did we leave out any logical steps?
    Tip: Make sure every “if” has a step for the “if not” alternative, like the substeps under Step 1 above.
  4. If you recorded this on a physical board, set an action item for someone to create a flow chart and/or procedure document with numbered steps.
  5. At the next meeting, review and revise the procedure as needed before formally adopting it.
  6. For a team procedure, add this information to the “Processes” section of the charter.

Create Work Management Procedure

  1. If the team is assigned a project manager, invite them to a meeting and decide how to provide the information they need.
  2. Otherwise, set an action item for volunteers to review the “Agile for Entrepreneurs” section and report back to the team on whether to adopt it.
  3. In the team meeting after they are ready, decide if you will try that system as described.
    Note: For the reasons detailed under “Trying the System,” it is important to learn any system well before customizing it.
  4. If not, create a team procedure to continuously answer the following questions:
    1. What should we be working on in the next two to three months to please our customers?
    2. Which of these are the top priority between now and the next team meeting?
    3. How will we know we have accomplished each of those top-priority items?
    4. Who will work on each?
    5. How will we communicate status to the people who will get our outputs and our stakeholders?
      Note: This and the next question are not addressed by the steps for entrepreneurs.
    6. How will we hand off our work output?

Details: “Work Management

Create Member Conflicts Procedure

  1. Decide as a team whether you want to create a procedure for member conflicts.
  2. If so, do so using the “Procedure Creation Steps” above.

Example: “Discipline” on page 7 of the “Sample Team Charter.”

Details: “Member Conflicts

Create Progress Reporting Procedure

  1. Decide as a team whether you want to create a procedure for progress reporting.
  2. If so, do so using the “Procedure Creation Steps” above.

Details: “Reporting Progress

Create New Member Orientation Procedure

  1. Decide as a team whether you want to create a procedure for new member orientations.
  2. If so, do so using the “Procedure Creation Steps” above.

Details: “New Member Orientation

Create Other Procedures

  1. Discuss: “Are there any other administrative tasks the team needs to do on a regular basis for which procedures would be helpful?”
  2. If so, use the “Procedure Creation Steps” above for each before moving on to the next section.

Example: “Hiring” on page 4 and “Removals from Team” on page 8 of the “Sample Team Charter.”

Details: “Other Procedures

Define Work Processes

  1. Decide as a team what work processes you want to create procedures for.
  2. Do so for each using the “Procedure Creation Steps” above, or schedule those procedures in your Continuous Improvement Plan (created below).

Example: “Publication Process” on page 6 of the “Sample Team Charter.”

Details: “Work Processes


Create Communications Plan

  1. Assign a subteam to:
    1. Meet with each primary stakeholder: at minimum, the team manager, direct customers, and partner groups within the company.
    2. Use the “Communications Plan” form to find out what information each stakeholder wants, when, and how.
    3. Complete the form for all stakeholders and bring it to the full team for approval.
  2. As a team, assign responsibility for each row of the form.
  3. Set action items to review the plan with the stakeholders in one month, three months, and yearly after that.

Details: “Communications Plan

Start Continuous Improvement Plan

Create CIP Goals

  1. Review any company, division, or team-manager goals to align the team goals with them.
  2. Come up with specific goals that support the team’s mission—at least two, but no more than five.
    Note: Make sure each goal is SMART and the time frame is no longer than a year.
  3. Add the goals to the charter.

Note: The team may prefer to put these in a separate document for the Continuous Improvement Plan, or in your work management tool if it has a place for them.

Create Initial Tasks

  1. Define as many tasks as you wish to reach each goal.
  2. Choose which tasks (across all goals) should be done first.
  3. Add those into your work management system.

Details: “Continuous Improvement Plan

Finalize Drafts

  1. Set an action item for someone to proofread and distribute the documents.
  2. Set another for the team to read the documents and bring comments to the next meeting after Step 1 is done.
    Note: Allow at least a few days after the Step 1 deadline.
  3. At that meeting, start at the first section and ask, “Does anyone have any comments?”
  4. If no one comments after a few seconds, move onto the next section, and continue until you are done.
  5. If there are comments, negotiate changes acceptable to all.

Note: These steps may take more than one meeting.

Details: “Finalize Drafts

Verify Approval

  1. One person at a time, have each member either state their commitment to the team documents or raise further objections.
  2. If objections are raised, negotiate changes acceptable to all.
  3. When everyone has approved the documents, set an action item to place these “official” versions in the part of your Document Repository visible to stakeholders.
  4. Set an action item for sending an e-mail or memo to your manager and key stakeholders confirming the approval and providing the document location.

Details: “Verify Approval

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