Distributed teams are a fact of the multinational organizations we work with. Hiding from it is not going to remove that. And crying “distributed agile = bad agile” is only going to alienate people who genuinely need to learn to cope with the fact that distributed teams are the new normal.
There are good and bad ways to adapt to the reality of distributed software, and copying the methods and practices from co-located teams into the digital world is not enough. Molood shares some of the common anti-patterns that arise when we plainly try to copy the co-located team methods into the new distributed reality.
One such example is the communication channels: trying to copy daily meetings from the co-located team into a digital world will eventually bump against the frustratingly low quality sound of some conference room setups. Molood suggests a different route and shows how a team she helped took full advantage of Slack (or any other asynchronous communication channel) to make their daily meetings for effective, and efficient for everyone involved.
Read on for the detailed show notes….
Start from basic practices: Work Agreements as the step 1 for distributed teams
“We just didn’t communicate enough!” is a common retrospective finding in distributed teams. But is that enough to understand what is going on?
Molood shares her experience with distributed teams and communication. More communication is not always the answer, and (as she suggests) we should focus on defining the working agreements for the team. So that we may reflect on what type of communication might be missing later when we bump against the inevitable blockers. Here, the role of the Scrum Master is critical. Starting by defining those work agreements can save the team a lot of time and help you pin-point the communication problems that are causing the blockers in the team.
Also for Scrum Masters working with distributed teams, it is critical to ensure that all team members have the opportunity to express their view and be heard. Molood shares a simple trick that can help Scrum Masters ensure that all team members are heard in distributed meetings.
Tools for distributed teams
Sooner or later this topic will show up in the team conversations. What tools should we use to enable our distributed team?
With Molood we explore some of the tools that she has successfully used in her work, as well as the reasons why some tools are better in certain contexts.
To help you choose the right tools we discuss the basics of Simplicity and Transparency. Simplicity is there to remind us that the tools are better when they are simpler to use, and people can easily have access to the information they need to complete their work (Transparency). Some of the tools we discuss include: Realtime Board, Google Docs, simple (and good quality – The Jabra 510 is my favourite) sound devices for conference calls, and the magic impact of using video instead of only voice in your calls.
About Molood Noori
Molood is often referred to as the queen of remote work in the agile community.
She is the founder of Remote Forever Summit, the first online summit about distributed agile that attracted 2000 people from around the world in 2017.
Molood helps managers, coaches and developers in distributed companies to transform to agile ways of working and similarly helps aspiring agile companies to work more effectively remotely.
She brings along a lot of techniques and experience working remote teams to help companies improve productivity and happiness at work. She is a co-owner of Management 3.0 and published author at places such as Scrum Alliance, Huffington Post, Inc.com and Agile Women magazine.