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Social Contract

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What is it?

The Social Contract is a simple, yet highly effective manner to enable team autonomy and self accountability for engagements. 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

Why use a Social Contract?

  • 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
  • Collaborative Face Drawing1 is a great ice breaker or after lunch activity. Your Social Contract can be a nicely decorated with the faces of the team to show their commitment to the contract.
  • Working Agreements2 are a form of social contract often used to help establish behavioral standards between peers on a team. This is a great alternative if you do not have stakeholders or sponsors buying in to a Social Contract.
  • Use retrospectives as a tool to revisit and update Social Contract based on learnings of team members working with each other

Who do you need?

  • Facilitator
  • The Team
  • Stakeholders/Sponsors

Suggested Time

  • ~10 min


  • Facilitator: Easy
  • Participants: Easy

Facilitation Materials Needed

  • Wall space which will hold sticky notes.
  • Whiteboard markers
  • Stickies (preferably a wide variety)

Process Phase

Beginning of engagement and revisited at any time.

Visualisation of Work Visualisation of Work

External References

  1. Collaborative Face Drawing
  2. Working Agreements for a Scrum Team
  3. Social Contract