CCR Collaborative Community Rituals

We talk about CC Ritual but we have never defined it online.  Here is an extract from our book, The agile Manager (small a).

In order to create a culture of sharing and collaboration, we need to connect across the siloes, the tribes, of the organisation. There are at least three general mechanisms to do this: communities of practice and of interest (p254); social communities and events; and collaborative rituals, which are more structured ways for people to work together to a result. Many meetings and workshops are rituals: process meeting, post-incident reviews, project rituals, Scrum rituals… For example, a popular way to do Agile at scale is with “PIs”. The term Program[me] Increments, or PI, comes from the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe). It refers to a slower broader planning cadence wrapped around a number of sprints, usually six two-week sprints giving a 12-week, or quarterly cycle. Once every PI cycle, there is a large meeting of all the teams with dependencies on each other, for a day or two, to plan the next 12 weeks, and especially to understand what everybody needs from each other. Bottleneck teams are soon identified.

Business, product, and strategy people make presentations, and programme managers pitch their initiatives. Then teams get down to planning, and more importantly agreeing, work for five sprints. The sixth sprint is an innovation and improvement sprint.

We believe such large-scale planning meetings are effective in large organisations with high levels of interdependencies. Modern organisations are supposed to be structured as many small independent units (divisions, teams, services, system, technology), but most established organisations don’t have that luxury.

It is also an opportunity to have stakeholder groups “exhibit their wares”, making the work teams aware of services and tools available.

However, there are other ways of planning and resolving dependencies. PIs are liable to become cumbersome and bureaucratic, especially all the planning and preparation leading up to them. Agile coaches joke that the best thing about SAFe is the day you don’t need it any more.

The basic principle of bringing people together is a good one. Teal Unicorn have our own collective term for any such ritual: Community Collaboration (CC).

Our preferred ritual for large scale CC is OpenSpace Technology[1]. Don’t be misled by the word “technology”: this is about a self-organising CC, based on the observation that the break time is sometimes the most productive part of a workshop or conference. There are many variants collectively known as “unconferences”. PI is useful for an organisation still taking its first steps into collaborative planning, but we should quickly grow to (or go directly to) OpenSpace as a more fluid, free, authorised method.

There is no pre-planned agenda, although we do gather information in advance. Participants dynamically set the agenda. Then we iterate through several cycles in parallel streams, addressing all questions on the agenda. Finally, we come together to discuss and close, and the participants write the proceedings.

There are other good models that we also use for participatory rituals, such as:

  • Lean Coffee, a structured ritual to allow the participants to dynamically set the CC agenda.
  • World Café[2].
  • PechaKucha[3], Lightning Talks, or Ignite: each speaker gets a short time with self-advancing slides.
  • Kaizen(p271).
  • Thinking tools such as brainstorming[4], pre-mortems[5], and Six Thinking Hats[6].
  • Games and simulations (p199).
  • Hacks (p246).
  • Internal conferences (p252).

There is a J-curve (p190) with these rituals. Our rule of thumb is: all new activities take at least three iterations before they start to work well.





[1] Origin:




[4] Applied Imagination, A F Osborn

[5] “Pre-mortems” are a scenario planning tool: pretend it is a hypothetical post-mortem, and describe scenarios of how it failed.

[6] Six Thinking Hats, E. de Bono, (1985).