Ways of Working – System boundaries and interactions

21 Sep 2020 | Agile Culture, Mural, Remote

Please find below a sequence of activities to align about a team Ways of Working. These activities are based on Systems thinking and Scrum ceremonies.

1. Set the Context

Start by sharing the context for the workshop. For example: This is our ABC workshop. During these X hours, we want to know more about each other, we want to look at the way we work, and we want to ….

2. Prime directive

‘Cooperation is the act of working with others and acting together to accomplish a job. Team is a partnership of unique people who bring out the very best in each other, and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they are even better together. Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.’ ˜ – team building prime directive from FunRetrospectives.

3. Ice breaker

Make sure to select and run an ice break activity. More ideas here.

4. System goals and boundaries

4.1 Start by explaining the difference between Analytical thinking and System thinking.

Analytical thinking seeks to understand, organize and concatenate the actions of each part to achieve the final result. In systems thinking, the end result pursue does not come from focusing on the individual actions of its parts. Instead, the focus is on the way they interact to fulfil the purpose of the system.

You can summarise it as: parts and actions versus parts and interactions.

You can say something like: ‘In this activity we’ll exercise our System thinking.’

Share the following system definition:

A system is an arrangement of parts within the system’s boundaries which interact with each other, cooperating in a process to accomplish a goal.

4.2 Foster a conversation and take notes for each of the following questions:

  • What is the purpose / the goal of our system?
  • What are our system boundaries? Which parts are inside our system? Which are outside?
  • What are the interactions with other systems?

5. Ways of Working: Our interactions and ceremonies

5.1 Start a conversation about Scrum team interactions and ceremonies.

How do we interact with each other? Let’s use this common framework to align about the length and contact points for our Sprints (iterations). We’ll work on Sprints; one after another, continuously.

5.2 Decide the date and time for each of the suggested Scrum ceremonies.

5.3 Have a conversation about recommendations and constrains for each of the Scrum ceremonies.


Template for remote workshop

Pease find below these activities as a template in Mural.

WoW – Systems and Scrum ceremonies by MURAL






Open to create a mural from this template in your workspace. Powered by MURAL

I have used these activities on isolated workshops as well as part of an agile team inception. You find more inception activities here.


>> This content is part of a series on inception activities.

Paulo Caroli

Paulo Caroli is the author of the best-selling book “Lean Inception: How to Align People and Build the Right Product” (the first on a series of books about Lean Strategy and Delivery). He's also the creator of FunRetrospectives.com , a site and book about retrospectives, futurospectives and team building activities. Caroli writes on this blog frequently. Receive the next post in your email. Sign up here .
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