What makes you happy at work?

From time to time the Scrum Master (or Project Manager) might feel the need to bring the team together. Depending on the phase of the project different methods can be used.

Two of the methods always work: a workshop with everyone (playful mood) and going out to a beer :). The last one doesn’t require any special skills: I bet everyone knows how to master it :). Therefore, in this article I will focus on the first approach: conducting a workshop with the entire team.

This article provides an example of the workshop content and offers the “behind the scenes view” (describes the necessary steps in order to conduct it). Of course that this is only an example. Any SCRUM Master/ Project Manager should be focused on observing the gaps that needs attention to his/her team, and tackle them.


Click here to view the presentation>>

Audience: Project Managers, SCRUM Master | Estimated reading time: 5 mins

Step 1: Find common ground

Even from the start of the workshop remind everyone that they fight for the same values, goals: closing a successful project.

I tried to do that by asking a simple question: “What makes you happy at work?”


  • “Happy colleagues & good co-working atmosphere “
  • “Knowing the exact things i need to do “
  • “Clear tasks”
  • “Knowing what I need to do so that at the end of the day I know if I did my job”

Most of the answers were the same, almost common sense thing that you expect from any work place, if you think of it: everybody wanted clear tasks, tasks that were towards a common goal. Everybody is happy when they contribute to a bigger thing, and they know how to contribute.

At this point it is important to emphases two ideas:

  1. that everyone is well intended and willing to work on the common goal: the project
  2. the importance of clear tasks & Definition of Done

Step 2: Explore what “SUCCESS” and “FAILURE” means for the project team

In the presentation I’ve prepared couple of examples of what success and failure might mean. What I thought to be very important is for the team to understand that tasks not completely done at the end of the SPRINT are not necessarily failure. It is important to create an environment where mistakes are allowed: a safety net where mistakes and experiments are also important because you can learn from them.

Step 3: Remind the importance of clear and specific tasks

In order to achieve this, I propose an exercise for the team: estimate 3 tasks (3 User Stories). First two are formulated a little ambiguous, using vague words like “OK format” or “AND SO ON”. Normally, the team will estimate higher as they expect the specification that will come later will be more complex.

It is important that the Product Owner attends this exercise, as they will experience the difference between estimating a complete User Story (specific) and a vague one.

Step 4: Make the difference between BUGS, DEFECTS, CHANGES

At this point after going through the theory it will be nice to look in retrospective how many BUGS where true BUGS. A step forward would be to commit to “BUGS are FREE”, but this kind of bravery comes in time, with a team well formed.

Step 5: Team Collaboration

Final step:  remind everyone how the collaboration will take place. Establish things like: location online, monthly SCRUM reports, retrospectives outcome, quality reports.

Looking forward hearing from your experience: what type of exercises/methods have you tried and how did it work.

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