Our refuge created based on our values, principles, and teams

Juan Cruz Alonso
5 min readSep 23, 2020

These days we talk a lot about principles and values, for example within the world of agility or in the company where we work when they tell us what values ​​they represent. These values ​​define each one of us and as a consequence, we all define the values ​​and principles that govern our work group. This debate has become quite open in recent times, assuming placing people with a lot of knowledge to command teams without having skills for them. Many times these people end up dismantling good teams since considering themselves to be very valuable, they are allowed to go above the values ​​and principles of the company, many times disrespecting their colleagues. I like the phrase I read from Howard Gardner: “A bad person never becomes a good professional.”

These bases or pillars allow us to be transparent with the rest of the team, to be free, and to be able to perform knowing that we are all on the same page of the book. I ask you. Do you feel identified at the end of the day by those values ​​and principles? Did you work with a leader of these opposite characteristics as mentioned previously?

In my case, I answer yes, I feel identified and I have had to work with “leaders” of that type and I have seen how the organization turned a deaf ear with leaders from other branches who reached such basic practices as taking benefits from their partners

That’s why when I have the opportunity to work with starting teams, I do two fundamental practices: Work Agreements and a Management 3.0 practice called Value Stories. For the latter, we use the format that the MN3.0 website allows you to download under the name Big Values ​​and which I share below.

It is important when carrying out this practice to bear in mind that there are two types of values ​​according to Management 3.0:

  • Core Values: The values ​​that you naturally have without which you would stop being yourself
  • Wish Values: Those that you aspire to have but are not natural to you. It can be done but it will take effort

The objective of this practice is to prevent future internal team problems due to not reaching a consensus as a team of our values ​​and of how we hope to carry out, let’s say it is a preventive dynamic. As a first step we put together our work agreement, it will guide us as a team throughout the sprints and is defined by everyone. I recommend addressing topics such as sprint duration, sprint closing celebration, ceremony schedules, use of the corporate tool, if you want to add some practice such as pair programming, formal communication channels, etc. We move forward debating these points or those that arise. On this occasion the team prepared the following Work Agreement:

Once this part of the dynamic is finished, we begin to work on what values ​​will represent our team. We can make visible the values ​​of the company to keep in mind. I invite each participant to take their Big Value List and select the five values ​​that most identify them (they can be core or wish). For ten minutes they make the selection and then each one tells us the conclusion they reached and I ask them to put it from first to last of greatest importance to least.

After discussing and reviewing each of the values ​​and listening to each of our colleagues, we continued to work on the team’s values. On this occasion, there are seven values ​​that we decided to place as group guides. Beyond observing a trend in the number of repetitions there are, I recommend debating whether they are the ones that represent everyone, very similar values ​​are often repeated.

The result is in sight, we were able to leave satisfied with our decisions on how to work. It was not imposed, it was agreed, so we must all honor that commitment. In my experience, a team that achieves this type of dynamic manages to generate better synergy than one in which each one decides how they are going to work on their own, as if it were an island. The potential of the teams is at work and the synergy they achieve between them, our duty is to accompany them by giving them tools to facilitate that path.

As a facilitator, I always learn from these activities since each team is a world, in this particular case, I learned a lot about the values ​​that each of the people had, but as an improvement for my next experiment, I plan to put together a better deliverable to unify both dynamics and make it look like the group’s full agreement.

I invite you to try this type of practice if you never did it. One recommendation is to propose them, not impose them, I have had cases of teams that did not seem important to carry them out and in the short term, the amount of disagreement convinced themselves that it was necessary to have an agreement. After making them visible, I have come to write it on our blackboard so that we do not forget it.

What do you think of the agreements and values ​​of the teams?