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MagicBell is a remote team spread out across six continents. Tools such as Zoom and Slack have made remote collaboration not just manageable but downright efficient. One challenge still present is the human element of working together. Is a teammate a morning or night person? Do they prefer Slacking asynchronously or Zooming face-to-face? Are there differences in personal values amongst the team?
Diversity should be the norm. But it can also lead to miscommunication, then frustration. Establishing empathy amongst the team is key. How? One way is a norming ceremony when kicking off a project. Our team normed yesterday. Not only was it enjoyable, but it will be very beneficial going forward with hard things on the horizon.
My norming process and format have progressed over the last six years, from being taught it at Cornell to now. Although much depends on the scenario, our team wanted to provide a generic walkthrough. We believe it could help your team, and would love to hear feedback on how it goes if you try it.
You can start with MagicBell’s Whimsical template. Add and/or remove questions relevant to your team.
An icebreaker is a question posed at the start of a meeting to learn more about teammates and help everyone relax. Examples are "What's your favorite dessert", "What emoji do you use most", and "What is your favorite work of fiction"? Typically meetings requiring substantial participation run much smoother after an icebreaker.
Guide the team through each question, discussing the tension differences could cause and potential solutions. Record possible future actions the team can take to work better.
All possible actions written down will not be good ideas. Hold a voting session where each team member gets 3-5 votes. Multiple votes for the same action item are allowed.
Work should not be assigned (this holds in planning, during sprints, and in this meeting). Team members should pull (i.e., assign themselves) action items they want to complete.
This meeting can run for a few hours. It requires teams to be vulnerable and often uncomfortable. Thank everyone for this. If there is a budget, buy everyone a coffee and croissant the following morning.