Being Agile requires a change in focus on the skills that we value. While face-to-face contact is generally preferred, it is not always possible. This does not mean that being Agile is not possible, but it does require a different level of focus.
Because communication has a material nonverbal component to it, we lose a significant amount of message content if we cannot clearly view the other party we are attempting to communicate with. You can gain significant insights by paying attention to body language and facial expressions. Remote team members typically lack the face-to-face time that is so instrumental to building rapport, understanding individuality, and enhancing relationships.
The Scrum Guide says nothing about team colocation. It does indicate that “development teams are structured and empowered by the organization to organize and manage their own work.” In addition, one of the principles of the Agile Manifesto states that “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.” However, this does not mean that any other communication method is a non-starter.
In their book From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams, Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby describe what it takes to have successful Agile teams as follows:
At first glance, this seems to necessitate face-to-face contact in order to be successful.However, let’s look at the skills required before coming to that conclusion:
These skills should look familiar, as we've discussed them before when talking about how Agile Skills Don't Revolve Around Ceremonies and Procedures. Additionally, Atlassian talks about this when discussing the secret to remote teams and how they can be part of a thriving Agile culture.
Info-Tech sees these as valuable behaviors. However, our research shows that they are aspects of a broader quality: discipline.
The inconsistency of discipline across a team can be compensated for easily when the members are local. However, these variances in discipline become deal breakers for remote Agile teams.
We think about discipline as “the quality of being able to behave and work in a controlled way which involves obeying particular rules or standards.”
There are many different aspects of discipline that are important:
To learn more about the Agile skills and values that are truly important, please refer to our research:
Traditional accounting practices are tailor made for waterfall project management. Organizations that have transitioned to the use of standing product teams using Agile and DevOps need to transform their accounting practices as well or they will leave valuable capital expenditure dollars on the table.
IBM is changing the terms of its ubiquitous Passport Advantage agreement to remove entitled discounts on over 5,000 on-premises software products, resulting in an immediate price increase for IBM Software & Support (S&S) across its vast customer landscape.
So you’ve gone Agile. You do daily scrums, retrospectives, and all the “right” Agile ceremonies. But still your organization isn’t quite convinced. It is now critical to balance the drivers and goals of both Agile and traditional thinking in order to achieve organizational success.
Do you feel like your Agile teams are treading water – going through the motions but never going anywhere? It’s a risk, and practices such as daily standups, retrospectives, and demonstrations need to be used wisely or you risk losing discipline to meeting fatigue.
Stakeholders expect the speed and responsiveness of product delivery does not come at the expense of quality. QA tools offer retailers the ability to continuously ensure both business and technical quality standards are upheld, but these tools should not be viewed as a silver bullet.
When trying to implement Agile as a defined process, Scrum turned BAs or other roles into order takers with the title “product owner.” This undermines the entire value proposition of product management.
No matter how good your product roadmap and backlog are, they are only as good as your audience’s ability to understand your vision and priority.
The scrum master is like the conductor of an orchestra, ensuring that every piece fits together at the right time to create something greater than the sum of the parts. You don’t have to know how to play each instrument, but you do have to understand what each part contributes to the overall masterpiece.
Tools are important to product teams, but only when they support solid people and processes.