Norms of Conduct

… a new Scrum Team is formed as an Autonomous Team.

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A Scrum Team benefits from a common agreement among its members about what they aspire to become, how they will make decisions, how they will provide feedback to each other, and what they collectively value.

Every member of a Scrum Team comes in with as set of preconceived notions about how to behave, rooted in their previous and present culture. They are generally unspoken, either because people just assume that everyone else shares the same notions, or because they aren’t even aware that they have them. But different peoples’ norms of behavior can conflict, leading to misunderstandings and distrust.

People often feel uncomfortable being transparent and exposing vulnerability to others. The symptoms are multiple. In meetings only a few people are really involved. There are decisions everybody thought where made but are not followed up on. People are feeling insecure to hold each other accountable and really say what they are really thinking.

A Self-Organizing Team that is unable to get all issues out on the table runs the risk of things being left unsaid, questions remaining unanswered and possible solutions not being evaluated.


The Scrum Team agrees to norms of conduct to enable it to grow into high performance.


A team was composed of people from different hierarchical levels. There were for example Professors that were part of the team. Because of the hierarchical relationship nobody felt safe enough to challenge the Professors when promises where broken or discussions were held.

After a Norms of Conduct session safety was created and the team now knew how they could engage in productive conflict.

The team came up with the following norms of conduct:



We see it as professionalism to hold each other accountable when we do not follow up on our promises.

We believe that proactive informing the team of possible delays is our duty.



We see asking for help as a sign of strength and professional behavior.



We expect that every team member is accountable to all others.

We value and are thankful for remarks and criticism from all team members.


The ideal time to create a norms of conduct is during the forming phase, right after the Scrum Team is formed. The norms provide safety because people can refer to it in Sprint Retrospectives when tension rises in later phases of growth.

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With the safety to engage in productive conflict the Scrum Team is ready to grow into high performance. This will result in an increasing Happiness Metric. Taking ownership of the norms of local culture, and honoring them, is a fundamental source of Team Pride.

See Community of Trust.