The Social Contract is a simple and effective way to enable team autonomy and self accountability for engagements. The Social Contract or Agreement is created by and for the team. 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
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
Establish empathy and context for future conversations between team members
Stick the large poster paper on the wall and label it "Social Contract."
Explain to the team that we're going to:
Ask open-ended questions about the team's desired way of working. If the team agrees to an answer, write the decision on a sticky note and put the note on the poster paper. If there's not consensus, throw the sticky note away or put it in the parking lot for later discussion.
At the end, ask the team to sign the contract, and keep it in a visible place. Note that this is a living document so the team can revisit it later, change it, and initial it to indicate that everyone has agreed to the change.
As the team moves forward, encourage them to refer back to the contract when there are disagreements.
Try to guide the team to a contract that encourages positivity, autonomy, and respect.
Avoid building a social contract that encourages antagonistic, command-and-control behavior. Here's an example of a really bad social contract:
- One conversation at a time
- Assume positive intent
- Do not delete or move others contribution
- Stay focused on our goal working iteratively
- Respect breaks
- Avoid other distractions like mail, and chat
- A contract can be updated based on needs...
- Agree on the above adding a sticky w/name & location
Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Social Contract practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.