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Sircles  sorintians  UX  Product office 

Team Manifesto (Eng)

If you could get all the people in an organisation rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.” — Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The sircle I belong to was formed recently and there are many things to do: defining our goals, who we are, what we offer and what we do not represent. All of this takes time and having to schedule many calls between us, but they all have a single purpose: to give structure to the team and to the sircle itself. So we introduced the concept of "team manifesto", which initially led to some confusion, despite the clear meaning of the word itself ("manifesto": "Referring to a person, making know clearly in words, in writing or with certain behaviours, what one has in mind or soul").

Therefore, I was asked to suggest a liberating structure (a methodology that helps us define it), but before I could do that, I had to understand what this manifesto was all about. So I did a lot of research (it's my soft spot, but I'm a UX designer after all), spoke with people and looked for examples on how to shape it until I realised an (absolute) truth, namely that its nature is subjective!

Why is it subjective? A team manifesto is a “social contract” between your team members that encapsulates norms, values, behaviours, and how you hold each other accountable to be a united team. But at the same time, it also contains the team's goals: in short, it is nothing more than a document created by the team for the team.

It's also important to remember that it's a “living” document and what works for the team today, may not work for the team in a month or a year. So it's always good to update it, or at least, to keep track of it.

But what are the advantages?

  1. Team members become more aware of what it means to be a team, behave as one and encourage others to behave according to the agreements made
  2. It gives the team the basis to face difficulties and possible unexpected events
  3. It provides great inspiration for retrospective whenever you periodically evaluate the team manifesto
  4. It helps to recognise unwanted behaviours and how to avoid them

So, where do we start? This is where the so-called liberating structure comes into play, a methodology that helps us shape this manifesto. There are many ways and not every team may use the same one.

If you like the idea, here you will find a useful link on how to structure it.

There is no right or wrong way to shape a team manifesto, as long as it's meaningful to your team. It's okay to be playful and to include metaphors that only make sense to you. And remember: be simple and don't complicate your life. E.g. "We are human and we all deserve respect" is sometimes all that is needed.

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