Matt Takane

Co-Authors: Tim Beattie Ryan DeBeasi

Social Contract

foundation-culture-and-collaboration loop position

What is it?

The Social Contract is a simple, yet highly effective manner to enable team autonomy and self accountability for engagements. It looks to codify the behaviors and expectations of the team. It also provides a mechanism for the team to radiate and share its desired behaviours with management and other stakeholders.

To effectively use this practice you should look to create the following outcomes:

  • Public display of the social contract
  • Nobody is above the contract
  • The team agreed holds each other accountable to the contract. Having every team member physically sign the contract can provide a good starting point for this.
  • Revisit the social contract often and update it as necessary

Why use a Social Contract?

  • Quick means to clearly determine team dynamics and expectations
  • Promote autonomy and self governing of team behavior
  • The contract keeps the team consciously aware of how they work together
  • Collaborative Face Drawing1 is a great ice breaker or after lunch activity. Your Social Contract can be a nicely decorated with the faces of the team to show their commitment to the contract.
  • Working Agreements2 are a form of social contract often used to help establish behavioral standards between peers on a team. This is a great alternative if you do not have stakeholders or sponsors buying in to a Social Contract.
  • Use retrospectives as a tool to revisit and update Social Contract based on learnings of team members working with each other

Who do you need?

  • Facilitator
  • The Team
  • Stakeholders/Sponsors

Suggested Time

  • ~10 min


  • Facilitator: Easy
  • Participants: Easy

Facilitation Materials Needed

  • Wall space which will hold sticky notes.
  • Whiteboard markers
  • Stickies (preferably a wide variety)

How does it fit?

  • Typically done in the Culture and Collaboration area of the Foundation of the Open Practice Library

Visualisation of Work Visualisation of Work

External References

  1. Collaborative Face Drawing
  2. Working Agreements for a Scrum Team
  3. Social Contract
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