Luis Goncalves
Last updated on | Agile General Knowledge

A Great Technique to build agreement within your team

by Luís Gonçalves
build agreement


Hi guys, in this post I want to demonstrate how to build agreement within your team, a small exercise that I learned from the book “Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making” by Sam Kaner.

As an agile coach, I spend a lot of time introducing new ideas to teams, but a question is: ” How can I figure out if these ideas will have enough buy-in from teams to be implemented?” The exercise that I´m showing you today will solve this problem; the practice is called “Gradient of Agreement”.

The exercise is easy. Use a flip chart, draw different five levels of agreement: “Endorse”, “Agree with reservations”, “Mixed feelings”, “Disagree but go with the majority” and “Block”. Ask team members to put a check mark on the level they feel comfortable, as presented below in the example.

Gradients of Agreement

Using this kind of tool allows everyone to reveal its opinion and level of commitment to the proposed approach. Sometimes it is not possible to get buy-in from the team. Therefore I propose that you start with small steps, instead of having an ambitious final solution. Why not break the solution in small pieces, for example, instead of proposing to the team that automated tests should run after every check in, split this ambitious goal into smaller ones:

  • Automated tests should run automatically after every check-in
  • Automated tests should run manually after every check-in
  • Automated tests should run automatically every night
  • Automated tests should run manually every night

And use the same technique for each different goal. After that chose the one that has the right balance between ambition and agreement from the team.

This was the exercise that I wanted to bring up today. If you are looking for more ideas on how to build High Performing teams check the blogs below:

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Luís Gonçalves

About Luís Gonçalvesçalves1979

Luis is not simply a consultant, he helps people and businesses grow. He expects to deliver 10 times more value than what you’d actually pay for. As an Agile retrospective expert, customer happiness and client success are his biggest drivers!


Share your point of view

  1. “Sometimes it is not possible to get buy-in from the team”:
    When would you consider that a team bought in for an idea?
    If the votes are as mixed as in the picture above (let’s assume there is no blocker) would you say it is a buy-in?

  2. I prefer a quicker, simpler technique… the Fist of Five

    And I have a disagreement in a tool/technique that is designed to create consensus that has the perceived ability of ONE person to “BLOCK” or veto the groups consensus. This aspect breaks consensus. It doesn’t allow for the concept that humans need to express their disagreement with an idea/direction of action and be heard / understood, and many times this is enough to allow them to support the groups decision even when they disagree (and receive the “I told you so” card to play later).