AoAD2 Practice: Context

This is an excerpt from The Art of Agile Development, Second Edition. Visit the Second Edition home page for additional excerpts and more!

This excerpt is copyright 2007, 2021 by James Shore and Shane Warden. Although you are welcome to share this link, do not distribute or republish the content without James Shore’s express written permission.


Product Managers, Coaches

We know who and what we have to work with.

Which skills are available to your team? What resources do you have? Who are your stakeholders?

If you don’t understand your context, you risk being blindsided by people and expectations.

These are all part of your team’s context: the larger system they’re embedded within. Understanding your context is important for reducing risk. If you don’t understand your context, it’s easy to get blindsided by people or expectations you weren’t even aware existed.

Chartering Context


Your team’s chartering session, discussed in the “Planning Your Chartering Session” sidebar, is a good time to discuss your team’s context. You can also discuss context in a separate session, if that’s more convenient, but it’s best if you solidify your team’s purpose first. That will help everyone understand what your team is meant to do.

During the context discussion, you’ll work with key stakeholders to consider three aspects of your team’s context: the skills available to your team, the team’s boundaries and interactions, and the resources committed to your team. Afterward, you’ll review the results with your executive sponsor and get their commitment to supply anything that’s missing.1

1This agenda is based on [Larsen2016] (ch. 7), with some changes. I’ve added the skills inventory, inspired in part by their Core Team activity, and I’ve removed their Prospective Analysis activity because I’ve saved it for the “Visual Planning” practice instead. continue reading, buy the book!

In this Section

  1. Context
    1. Chartering Context
      1. Available skills
      2. Boundaries and interactions
      3. Committed resources
      4. Sponsor commitment
    2. Iterating Context
    3. Questions
    4. Prerequisites
    5. Indicators
    6. Alternatives and Experiments

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