Simple Rules for Agile Chartering (with an added twist of neurodiversity)

Last week at XP2016 I attended Diana Larsen’s workshop on Simple Rules for Agile Chartering *. I walked away with a host of Simple Rules for neuro-inclusivity that the group created.


Diana explained that even Complex Adaptive Systems have simple rules that guide their behaviour – like when starlings do those incredible murmurations but follow three simple rules: Steer towards the average heading; Remain close to your neighbour (but not too close); Avoid collisions.

Diana shared some attributes of simple rules and had us work in groups to create some of our own. Having been at my talk the day before, Diana kindly weaved in neurodiversity. The group gifted me the outcomes. Here’s a slide of the exercise instructions without the neurodiversity angle:


I wanted to share the output from the groups because it’s so powerful. These are statements that people came up with as rules for how to work together as neurodiverse groups (3 or 4 rules per team):

  • Blend the best of the team’s abilities
  • Respect and seek to understand differences in thought patterns and behaviours
  • Encourage everyone’s expression and opinion
  • Put yourself in your team member’s shoes
  • Identify and seek to address discomfort within the team
  • Empathize before judging
  • See first to understand
  • Make sure we have realistic goals – even/especially for yourself
  • Nurture each other’s strengths
  • Celebrate and value our differences
  • Understand and use each other’s strengths
  • Keep learning
  • Provide varied spaces adapting to peoples’ needs
  • Assume positive intent
  • Give everyone the freedom to adapt to their needs
  • Utilise different ways of thinking
  • Leverage our differences


This is an exercise I will definitely do in the future to help teams think about inclusivity.


*see Diana’s wonderful and very practical book with Ainsley Nies – Liftoff. The second edition of which is out soon and can be read in beta already.



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