Team Norms

Much of my focus during recent engagements has been on the effectiveness of different teams. I’ve therefore spent a lot of time working with these teams, both small and large [e.g. teams of teams], understanding their challenges and supporting them in plotting an improved route forward.

One approach has been to work with the team to define the principles, behaviours and norms that define how they work together to be more successful. Harvard Business Review defines these as:

“a set of agreements about how members will work with each other and how the group will work overall. These agreed-upon behaviors allow the team to increase its collective performance through healthy debate and clarity of purpose and roles.”

Over this time I have seen a number of these norms independently repeat team after team after team. As I’ve noticed the patterns, I began to collate the intersection and have refined them into a common, general list, that neatly fits in a single page. This is the list I have come up with. Is there anything missing? What would you add? What would you remove?

One Team

The prime directive is for us to ensure that the team is successfully achieving its goals and objectives. We are willing to work outside of our individual specialisms to do this. We measure ourselves as one team over a set of individual contributions.


We have the necessary capability, resources and tools to be successful. We are highly aligned with the wider mission, goals and principles of the wider organisation. We take appropriate decisions autonomously, without unnecessary approvals. We are fully accountable for our outcomes.


We deliver customer value outcomes. Outcomes happen when we finish work, not when we start. We radically focus on our current goal, serialising delivery to optimise finishing. Through serialisation we achieve small batches and facilitate learning fast.


We are radically open and transparent about everything we do. We actively overshare to provide context and manage expectations inside and outside of the team. We embrace honest and direct feedback.


Simplicity is the cornerstone of scalability. This is as true for our product, technical solutions, sales process, customer engagement etc. as for our methods of working and organising ourselves.

Continuous Improvement

We continuously look at ways we can improve as a team, as an individual and as a wider community. We take the best from others and synthesise it to suit our needs.


We are smart, rational and capable people; we trust our colleagues and teams to make informed decisions about the best way to move forward. We start from the position of everyone is trying to do the right thing, right.