Conflict in 
Agile Teams 
Sydney Agile &Scrum User Group 
@JemBen 
& 
@FrankLetsBe
Community
Venue
Conferences
Encore ! 
Sydney 2 October 
http://www.agileencore.com/ 
http://www.scrum.com.au/2014/
Your Story: 
- Where were you when you RSVP? 
! 
- Who did you think about when you pressed 
“Yes”? 
! 
What brought you h...
“At the very least, can we just have minimal respect for everyone here?” 
“Well, what if not everybody on this team is wor...
“Conflict is 
inevitable !”
Acknowledging the Agile Context 
People interaction over process and tools 
Working software over comprehensive documentat...
Agile 2014 - InfoQ - Second Keynote - 
Best Job Ever 
http://www.infoq.com/news/2014/08/agile2014-keynote-best-job
Influential factors for 
interpersonal relationship and 
collaboration…
Common Causes of Team Conflict 
Competitive Goals 
Lack of Focus 
Misunderstanding of job / requirements 
Interdependence ...
Cost of Conflict ! 
What is the cost of delaying the conflict discussion?
Transforming conflict into 
constructive disagreement 
- Ignore 
- Win / Lose 
- Lose / Win 
- Lose / Lose 
- Win / Win
What is the problem ? 
Do we agree?
Do we have the same perspective? 
Do we agree?
Do we have the same understanding 
on how to solve it? 
Do we agree?
understand our perception of conflict 
consider a different perspective on conflict 
learn techniques to better handle con...
OBJECTIVES 
• To understand our perception of conflict 
• To consider a different perspective on conflict 
• To share &lea...
Exchange time
1. How do you define conflict? 
! 
! 
2. What is your typical response to conflict? 
! 
! 
3. What is your greatest streng...
4. If you could change one thing about the way you handle 
conflict, what would it be? Why? 
! 
! 
5. What is the most imp...
7. How can conflict be detrimental to a team? 
! 
! 
8. What do you do when someone avoids conflict with you? 
! 
! 
9. Wh...
Discussion time
Were your partner’s perspective different from 
yours? 
- Debriefing questions -
What were some things you learned by 
considering another’s perspective? 
- Debriefing questions -
Does discussing conflict like this make it “ less 
scary” ? 
- Debriefing questions -
Is conflict good or bad ? 
- Debriefing questions -
What are some ways in which conflict is 
detrimental to the team ? 
- Debriefing questions -
What are some ways in which conflict enriches 
the team? 
- Debriefing questions -
Which level of conflict are you facing ? 
http://mikecohnsignatureseries.com/books/coaching-agile-teams
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team 
- Patrick Lencioni 
http://www.tablegroup.com/books/dysfunctions
“Embrace the idea that conflict CAN be 
positive” 
The intension shapes the outcome
Working out the collaboration Muscle !
Conflict in Agile Teams - Sydney Agile & Scrum user group Meetup
Conflict in Agile Teams - Sydney Agile & Scrum user group Meetup
Conflict in Agile Teams - Sydney Agile & Scrum user group Meetup
Conflict in Agile Teams - Sydney Agile & Scrum user group Meetup
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Conflict in Agile Teams - Sydney Agile & Scrum user group Meetup

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Agile teams, as we all know, are based around communication and collaboration.
Obviously then, the self-organised team must be able to communicate effectively and professionally; but what about when it can’t, or won’t?
Strangely, these are in fact two different concepts, and both happen in the real world – most importantly, both lead to conflict that can destroy a team.

We all like to imagine the cross-functional team of specialised generalists with a focus on technical excellence, working pro-actively to solve issues and create the best product possible in the best working environment possible.

The reality, though, is that we don’t always pick our teams, and even when we do, we don’t always get along.

Consider the five dysfunctions of a team: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoiding accountability, and no attention to results. How many have you encountered? Probably, you have encountered more than one, at least at some point, and if so, you would have seen the results on productivity, quality, and turnover.

Join us around a "world cafe" session to share and explore your stories and experiences on how to sense, observe, learn and transform conflict to constructive disagreement.

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Conflict in Agile Teams - Sydney Agile & Scrum user group Meetup

  1. 1. Conflict in Agile Teams Sydney Agile &Scrum User Group @JemBen & @FrankLetsBe
  2. 2. Community
  3. 3. Venue
  4. 4. Conferences
  5. 5. Encore ! Sydney 2 October http://www.agileencore.com/ http://www.scrum.com.au/2014/
  6. 6. Your Story: - Where were you when you RSVP? ! - Who did you think about when you pressed “Yes”? ! What brought you here?
  7. 7. “At the very least, can we just have minimal respect for everyone here?” “Well, what if not everybody on this team is worthy of respect?” http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596518028.do
  8. 8. “Conflict is inevitable !”
  9. 9. Acknowledging the Agile Context People interaction over process and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Reacting to change over following a plan http://agilemanifesto.org/
  10. 10. Agile 2014 - InfoQ - Second Keynote - Best Job Ever http://www.infoq.com/news/2014/08/agile2014-keynote-best-job
  11. 11. Influential factors for interpersonal relationship and collaboration…
  12. 12. Common Causes of Team Conflict Competitive Goals Lack of Focus Misunderstanding of job / requirements Interdependence Feedback mechanism Conflict of interest Disagreement about execution Blame Culture Strategy Performance appraisal mechanism Fear of Failure Seeking recognition http://www.infoq.com/research/dealing-with-team-conflicts
  13. 13. Cost of Conflict ! What is the cost of delaying the conflict discussion?
  14. 14. Transforming conflict into constructive disagreement - Ignore - Win / Lose - Lose / Win - Lose / Lose - Win / Win
  15. 15. What is the problem ? Do we agree?
  16. 16. Do we have the same perspective? Do we agree?
  17. 17. Do we have the same understanding on how to solve it? Do we agree?
  18. 18. understand our perception of conflict consider a different perspective on conflict learn techniques to better handle conflict build trust How do you see it ? the Conflict—How Do You See It? provided) for each participant, pens minutes Procedure can provide the spark that leads to better solutions, creativ-ity, collaboration. This activity helps team members to: (1) become comfortable with conflict, (2) consider the positive aspects of con-flict, (3) understand the possible benefits to themselves and the team. participants pair up. Provide each person with a copy of the hand-out. Allow 10 to 15 minutes for partners to interview each other. Follow group discussion of the interviews and then go over the discussion questions. - Exercise as a Game - http://www.amazon.com/Book-Conflict-Resolution-Games-Communication/dp/0071742247
  19. 19. OBJECTIVES • To understand our perception of conflict • To consider a different perspective on conflict • To share &learn techniques to better handle conflict • To build trust
  20. 20. Exchange time
  21. 21. 1. How do you define conflict? ! ! 2. What is your typical response to conflict? ! ! 3. What is your greatest strength when dealing with conflict? 4.
  22. 22. 4. If you could change one thing about the way you handle conflict, what would it be? Why? ! ! 5. What is the most important outcome of conflict? ! ! 6. In what ways have you seen your team benefit from conflict?
  23. 23. 7. How can conflict be detrimental to a team? ! ! 8. What do you do when someone avoids conflict with you? ! ! 9. What are some reasons you choose to avoid conflict? ! ! 10. What can you do to promote a healthy attitude toward conflict within your team?
  24. 24. Discussion time
  25. 25. Were your partner’s perspective different from yours? - Debriefing questions -
  26. 26. What were some things you learned by considering another’s perspective? - Debriefing questions -
  27. 27. Does discussing conflict like this make it “ less scary” ? - Debriefing questions -
  28. 28. Is conflict good or bad ? - Debriefing questions -
  29. 29. What are some ways in which conflict is detrimental to the team ? - Debriefing questions -
  30. 30. What are some ways in which conflict enriches the team? - Debriefing questions -
  31. 31. Which level of conflict are you facing ? http://mikecohnsignatureseries.com/books/coaching-agile-teams
  32. 32. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni http://www.tablegroup.com/books/dysfunctions
  33. 33. “Embrace the idea that conflict CAN be positive” The intension shapes the outcome
  34. 34. Working out the collaboration Muscle !

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