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Agile Notes (No. 56)
Helping the Team Set Ground Rules
Hello all! Welcome new subscribers! Thanks for joining us. We continue with Collaboration Explained by Jean Tabaka. This week we are staying with Chapter 17: Managing the Meeting Participants with a look back to Chapter 9: The Organizing Tools. (Also, there are going to be a few page grabs this week.)
I continue to unravel the utility of this book. Initially, I was being dismissive about a lot of the tools because this book was written in 2006 - back when we all got together in giant meeting rooms. As I get deeper into the chapters I am appreciating that the tools apply to a world of distributed teams and I should be more open.
Tabaka refers back to Ground Rules in Chapter 9 in reference to managing any conflicts that pop up. This is where it clicked in for me. Conflicts happen even in remote settings. They might even be harder to detect, too. We need to talk about setting Ground Rules.
First, the TEAM sets their own Ground Rules. These rules are not IMPOSED on them from some external person. Ground Rules along with other tools like Meeting Purpose, Agenda, Parking Lot, Action Plan, etc. help the team:
Stay on track
Remain productive while INVITING divergence
Strive toward consensus in decision making
I love how Tabaka summarizes Ground Rules in one sentence:
How will we help ourselves meet our goals without destruction, either in conflict or distraction?
Above are some examples of Ground Rules although I think the Pandora’s Box of #3 will never be closed. Again, these are not your rules. They belong to the Team. You can facilitate the discussion around creating the Rules. You can remind the Team about the Rules. But you are NOT the enforcer of the Rules.
Above are some examples of how to bring the Team back to their Ground Rules. Gently refer back to them if you sense the Team has gotten away from a stated meeting Purpose.
Lastly, Tabaka touches on Team Norms as different but adjacent to Ground Rules. You could probably combine the two. Why have two lists when one will do the job? I get it. She is saying Ground Rules are meeting-specific. Norms are the Team’s operating system. I say combine them.
Then again, I have never used this tool. I’ve never used written or formal Ground Rules with any of the teams I’ve worked with in the past. I see and understand the benefit though. I get how using Ground Rules and Norms as your operating framework combined with having someone gently bringing the Team back around to them would be incredibly beneficial.
What about you? Have you used Ground Rules with your Teams? How did it go? Do you have recommendations for Ground Rules? We would love to hear them!
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