Defining Agreements

S3 promotes a hypothesis-driven approach to decision making

Agreement Life-Cycle

Pattern 6.1: Agreement

An agreement is an agreed upon guideline, process or protocol designed to guide the flow of value.

  • agreements are created in response to drivers
  • agreements are the accountability of the people that make them
  • agreements are regularly reviewed

Template for Agreements

Pattern 6.2: Strategy

A strategy is a high level approach towards creating value within a domain.

  • an organization, circle or a person in a role can develop their own strategy
  • a strategy often includes a description of the intended outcome (a.k.a. “vision”)
  • for roles and circles it’s often helpful to invite peers, or a superset circle, to look over a strategy and offer any objections and improvement suggestions
  • strategy is regularly reviewed and updated as necessary (pivot or persevere)

Strategies are implemented and refined through experimentation and learning.

Pattern 6.3: Domain Description

A domain description is used as a circle, open location and role description too. It contains:

  • a description of the domain: primary driver and key subdrivers (key responsibilities)
  • details of any constraints in relation to people accounting for the domain:
    • preferred/required skills, qualities, experience
    • resources, budget, time, privileges
    • evaluation criteria and frequency
    • term (for a role)
  • (previous versions)

Pattern 6.4: Intended Outcome

  • a concise description of the expected result of an agreement, action, project or strategy
  • specific Evaluation Criteria and metrics can be helpful for reviewing the actual outcome

Pattern 6.5: Describing Deliverables

A deliverable is something which is provided as a result of an agreement in response to a driver. Deliverables include products, raw materials, services, experiences and transformation.

In the context of an agreement, clearly describing deliverables supports shared understanding:

  • include the necessary amount of detail
  • reference other documents when helpful or necessary

Explicitly defining deliverables can be useful for improving:

  • organizational strategy
  • circle strategy
  • development plans
  • domain descriptions
  • any other agreement (e.g. business goals, process policy, customer communication)

Pattern 6.6: Evaluation Criteria

Defining evaluation criteria can help to understand whether or not an agreement has the desired effect.

  • go for simple and unambiguous criteria and document them (to avoid discussion when reviewing your agreements)
  • define actionable metrics to continuously track effects and spot deviations from intended outcomes

Pattern 6.7: Logbook

A logbook is a (digital) system to store all information relevant for running an organization and its teams. The logbook is accessible to all members of an organization, and information is kept confidential only when there is good reason to do so.

Common platforms for logbooks are Wikis (e.g. Dokuwiki or MediaWiki), Content Management Systems (e.g. WordPress), Google Drive, Evernote or Trello etc.

Logbook Contents

  • Organization:
    • primary driver, strategy and organizational values
    • organizational structure (domains and connections)
    • agreements
  • Circle:
    • circle description and strategy
    • agreements (including subset circles’ descriptions and strategies, role descriptions, development plans)
    • backlogs and other information relating to a circle’s work and decision making
  • Personal logbooks
    • role descriptions, strategies and development plans
    • operational backlog

Pattern 6.8: Logbook Keeper (Role)

The logbook keeper is accountable for maintaining a circle’s logbook by:

  • recording details of agreements, role descriptions, selections, evaluation dates, minutes of meetings etc.
  • organizing relevant information and improving the system when valuable
  • keeping records up to date
  • ensuring accessibility to everyone in the circle (and in the wider organization as agreed)
    • attending to all technical aspects of logbook keeping

Read next: Focused Interactions (or back to Bringing in S3)


©2017 by Bernhard Bockelbrink and James Priest. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0