Refining Norms for Your Scrum Team

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jul 10, 2023
Updated on
Jul 10, 2023
Table of Content


In the world of Agile and Scrum methodologies, Scrum teams are at the heart of successful software development projects. To ensure smooth collaboration and optimal productivity, it is essential for Scrum teams to establish and refine their norms. In this blog post, we will delve into the significance of scrum team norms, explore why they are important to set, and provide actionable tips on refining them to foster a high-performing team.

What Are Scrum Team Norms

Scrum team norms are a set of agreed-upon behaviors, values, and guidelines that define how the team interacts and works together. These norms act as a compass, guiding the team's actions, decision-making processes, and overall behavior. Norms can encompass a wide range of aspects, such as communication patterns, meeting etiquette, conflict resolution strategies, and individual responsibilities within the team.

Why Are Scrum Team Norms Important to Set?

Enhancing Collaboration: Scrum team norms establish a common understanding of how team members should work together. By clearly defining expectations, norms promote collaboration, cooperation, and a sense of unity within the team. They help team members align their efforts towards achieving shared goals, fostering a positive and productive team dynamic.

Improving Productivity: Norms can significantly impact the team's productivity. When norms are well-defined and consistently followed, they reduce ambiguity, minimize miscommunication, and streamline workflows. By establishing norms around meetings, for example, the team can ensure efficient and focused discussions, reducing time wastage and increasing overall productivity.

Building Trust and Psychological Safety: Norms play a vital role in creating an environment of trust and psychological safety within the Scrum team. When team members know what is expected of them and feel confident in expressing their ideas and concerns, they are more likely to take risks, collaborate openly, and learn from their mistakes. This, in turn, leads to innovation and continuous improvement.

How to Refine Norms for Your Scrum Team

Identify Current Norms

The first step in refining norms for your Scrum team is to understand the existing behaviors and patterns within the team. Observe how team members interact with one another during meetings, discussions, and daily work. Are there certain communication styles or decision-making approaches that prevail? Are there any positive norms that contribute to the team's success, or negative norms that hinder progress? By taking the time to identify these current norms, you can gain insights into what is working well and what needs improvement.

For example: you might notice that team members tend to interrupt each other during meetings, leading to miscommunication. This negative norm can be addressed by establishing a norm that encourages active listening and respectful communication.

Collaboratively Establish Norms

Refining norms should be a collaborative effort involving the entire Scrum team. Organize a dedicated session or workshop where team members can openly discuss and share their thoughts on the team's norms. Encourage everyone to contribute their ideas, concerns, and suggestions. This inclusive approach ensures that everyone has a voice and feels ownership over the established norms.

During these discussions, you can use techniques like brainstorming or dot voting to prioritize the most important norms to be established or refined. This allows the team to collectively decide which behaviors and guidelines are crucial for their success.

For example: the team might decide to establish a norm of giving constructive feedback during retrospectives to promote continuous improvement.

Document and Communicate

Once the team has agreed upon the refined norms, it's important to document them in a clear and accessible format. This could be a team charter, a set of guiding principles, or a shared document that can be easily referenced by all team members. The documentation should clearly outline each norm, its purpose, and the expected behavior associated with it.

Ensure that the document is easily accessible to everyone on the team, such as through a shared drive or project management tool. It's crucial that team members have a clear understanding of the established norms and know their responsibilities in adhering to them. This documentation also serves as a reference point for newcomers to the team, helping them integrate smoothly into the established norms.

Review and Adapt

Norms are not set in stone and should be subject to periodic review and adaptation. Schedule regular check-ins, such as during retrospectives or team meetings, to evaluate the effectiveness of the established norms. Encourage team members to provide feedback and share their observations on how well the norms are being followed and their impact on team dynamics.

These review sessions provide an opportunity to assess whether the norms are still relevant and effective or require adjustments. As the team matures and faces new challenges, it may be necessary to refine or introduce additional norms to address emerging needs. By remaining open to feedback and continuously adapting the norms, the team can ensure they stay aligned with their goals and evolving work environment.


In the world of Scrum, establishing and refining norms for your team is crucial for fostering collaboration, productivity, and a positive team environment. By defining clear expectations, norms enhance communication, build trust, and provide a framework for effective decision-making. Remember, refining norms is an ongoing process that requires open dialogue, adaptability, and a commitment to continuous improvement. So, gather your team, start the conversation, and watch as your Scrum team evolves into a cohesive and high-performing force. As Henry Ford once said:

"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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