When Johanna visited Agile 2017, one of the largest Agile conferences that year, she was disappointed that the main advice people were giving on stage was: “don’t do distributed”. She then met Mark and started sharing her experience on how she had been able to make distributed agile work in her consulting work.
From that disappointment and both Johanna’s and Mark’s experience, a book was born: From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver.
When working with distributed teams, it is important to go back to principles, and explore how to apply those in the distributed teams. The practices that you know from co-located teams may not be adequate to distributed Agile teams.
Mark and Johanna shares some of the tips that they’ve seen work to help distributed agile teams. We talk about collaboration in a distributed environment, recruiting as a specific aspect that is different for distributed teams, and we talk about some of the metrics that may help you detect problems in a distributed team, even if you don’t “see” the whole team working like you do in a co-located team.
Being apart from each other, oddly, is not the big difference. The big difference we talk about is the “affiliation”, how we feel connected. The aspects that drive or improve the connection between team members are much more important in distributed teams because there’s no space for occasional corridor conversations.
Mark and Johanna share their tips on how to help team members connect with each other, even when they are physically separated.
Working remotely is also very different for team members individually. It is easier to spend more time on the laptop if you go from working on the screen, to having a meeting on the same screen! When you are in an office, you will get up and walk more often. We talk about scheduling some exercise in your day and other tips that make life better for the individuals in a distributed team.
As you would expect, the work of Scrum Masters also changes significantly for remote teams. We talk about the work agreements that are even more critical for distributed teams, as well as other practices and tools that distributed Scrum Masters must adopt when working with remote teams.
About Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby
Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” provides frank advice for your tough problems. She helps leaders and teams see problems and resolve risks and manage their product development. Johanna is the author of fourteen books and hundreds of articles. Find the Pragmatic Manager, a monthly email newsletter, and her blogs at jrothman.com and createadaptablelife.com
As an agile coach, Mark Kilby has cultivated more distributed and dispersed teams than collocated teams. He’s coached as a consultant, an internal coach, and as a facilitator of distributed professional communities. His easy-going style helps teams learn to collaborate and discover their path to success and sustainability.
See markkilby.com for his blog and articles.