Agile Peer Canvas for Leadership without Authority within Agile Teams

Agile Peer Canvas for Leadership without Authority within Agile Teams

Agile Peer Canvas for Lateral Leadership

Here's my Agile Peer Canvas for helping you succeed in your role as a lateral leader by building a holistic perspective of your team members.

Agile frameworks often times focus way too much on the process and role side of collaboration. But ultimately, your product won't only succeed because of following a given process, but when you can channel the motivations of your peers into meaningful work.

To support you on that quest, I created the Agile Peer Canvas. It combines the process and empathy component of agile collaboration for a holistic perspective of your peers. The canvas thereby supports you in building a team dynamic based on empathy and clarity.

And ultimately, it's also detached from ever changing environmental factors like Scrum, LeSS etc. to let you focus on the permanent factors of a successful team.

If you consider this canvas useful because of your current challenges in being a lateral leader, you should also take a look at my fourthcoming book on lateral leadership.

Areas of the Agile Peer Canvas

  • Mission: What’s the essence of this role captures in one sentence?
  • Do’s: Explicit tasks which are clearly assigned to and owned by this person.
  • Don’ts: List the most important tasks which this person should explicitly not tackle (counter-examples).
  • Hopes: What are the expectations of this person of what to get out her role?
  • Fears: What is holding the person back?
  • Drivers & Motivators: Which aspects of her work make her accel and push-through?
  • Informal Role: Which team-internal role could leverage the drivers of this person beyond her job description?

How to use the Agile Peer Canvas

Schedule a workshop with a set of peers who form a cross-functional team on a regular basis. Whether it’s a task force to tackle a new legal regulation or a ‘classic’ Scrum team.
Ask them to prepare at least 2-3 items per section of the Agile Peer Canvas.
To lead by example and lower the hurdles to get started, you can share your own Canvas in advance.

When you meet for the workshop, everyone shares their self-perceived Canvas first with the rest of the team (agree on making this a safe space beforehand). To create a more holistic perspective, the team members have the time to suggest additional attributes for the Canvas of the presenter and can share it with her. The reason you want to keep this a two-sided conversation is that it’s not only about sharing your own thoughts but also gathering feedback from your peers on how they perceive you.

  • Every team member presents their own canvas in this workshop
  • Peers have chance to give feedback for complementing inside-out perspective after each presentation. This step is the most important one in uncovering perspective gaps in terms of team roles.
  • Keep the results visible at least within the team
  • Repeat with new team members/entire teams every 6 months or so

A more strategic use of these Agile Peer Canvas insights follows the scheme of Stakeholder Mapping. Using a matrix-like framework, you can visualize team members (or peers, depending on the environment you’re looking at) using this background for their objectives. For example, who has a more impersonal relationship to their work environment and will therefore also intervene and discuss conflicts on a more objective level? This could be in contrast to team members who bring more emotional buy-in to the table and are more likely to start a heated discussion that is related to their personal objectives.

Peer Mapping Matrix Lateral Leadership v2

If you're looking for more practical guiding through leveraging the Agile Peer Canvas for your role as a lateral leader, take a look at my lateral leadership training offerings.