The team agreement "is a crucial document, because you will use it to periodically evaluate your work together throughout the course of the project."
Question Three: What are the key elements of our team operating agreement?
One of the most important tasks in these early meetings is to sign off on a
team agreement that clearly defines your expectations for each other, your operating
parameters, and the ways in which you will define success at the end of the
project. A sample of a team agreement is provided in Figure 8. This is a crucial
document, because you will use it to periodically evaluate your work together
throughout the course of the project. It requires considerable thought. You
are creating a truly meaningful agreement that will keep you on track as a group
and promote accountability in your performance with each other.
* Who's in charge? While all members of the team need to be strong advocates
for the project, a single individual should be designated as the team leader.
For community- initiated projects, this may be a consultant. It is that individual's
job to schedule meetings, keep the project on track, secure funding sources,
and shepherd the project through the WSDOT/FHWA review and approval process.
Make sure to clearly identify who has accountability for these tasks.
* What are your operating parameters? These are just a few examples of the parameters
you will want to establish at the outset.
How often will you meet, where, and when?
Will a project team member run the meetings or will you use a facilitator?
How will you make decisions together - through full consensus, modified consensus,
Which decisions will be based on team consensus versus others that will involve
collaborative problem-solving but will ultimately be the decision of a particular
If a project team member cannot attend a meeting, are substitutes allowed?
What options or resources are available to members with dissenting opinions?
* How will you hold yourselves accountable?
Team frustration often brews when members do not follow through on their commitments
to each other. The team member with authority to move the project through a
review process, for example, needs to clearly identify to the other members
which documents are required for review, what the expectations are for document
content and format, how long the review will take, and what it will include.
How will the local agency or consultant respond to the review?
Members who are reporting to local political bodies should make it clear when
and how approvals will occur. If the schedule is going to be delayed for some
reason, then that delay also needs to be clearly communicated to the team. These
are just a few examples of how you might hold yourselves accountable to the
full team. Take the time as a group to list all of the ways in which you want
each other to perform in terms of communication, scheduling, and project deliverables.
* How will you define project success? Two three, or ten years down the road
- what will a "successful" project look like? You can use your project
description to get a start on this, but make sure you expand, if necessary,
to include all of your ideas on how the project will ultimately function and
be successful - for FHWA, WSDOT, and the local community. This will be the yardstick
you will use later on to measure your work together.
* How will you define process success? Projects may ultimately be built but
leave behind a team that has not functioned well together, along with a trail
of frustration, bad feelings, and jurisdictional divides. Detail, as a team,
how you will measure the success of your teamwork at regular intervals throughout
the process. As you move through the project you will use this tool to periodically
evaluate how you are doing and adjust where necessary to improve your work together.