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Does the book help with Lean/Agile with an international/offshore dev team?

 
Greenhorn
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Hi Mary and Tom,

Does the new book describe techniques for implementing agile/lean methods in a team where some members are offshore?

We are currently spread USA/India/UK. Any given project usually involves developers from at least 2 of these locations - sometimes all 3.

Eg, is it really plausible to scrum effectively over conference phone? What other techniques could help us overcome this problem?

Thanks,
Katie
SCJP
 
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I can't comment on the book, and can't provide personal experience (lucky me! ), but you might find http://www.martinfowler.com/articles/agileOffshore.html of interest...
 
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Hello Katie,

The book has a brief section on distributed teams. To summarize, the basic issue is not communication - communication difficulties are a symptom of a bigger problem. We find that when a team is really a team - that is - members are mutually committed to achieving a common goal - then they will find ways to overcome communication issues. The phone is not the problem, the problem is that team members are not committed to each other to achieve the team goal.

We discuss several ways in which communication difficulties have been overcome by distributed teams, and some things to watch out for.

Mary Poppendieck
 
Ilja Preuss
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Originally posted by Mary Poppendieck:
We find that when a team is really a team - that is - members are mutually committed to achieving a common goal - then they will find ways to overcome communication issues. The phone is not the problem, the problem is that team members are not committed to each other to achieve the team goal.



Yes, but how to form a real team?

I'd expect one important part to be the forming of trustful relationsships. Isn't communication - chatting, making jokes together, being able to refer to common experiences - vital for team building?

Sounds kind of a chicken-and-egg problem to me - with a good team, communication will be much easier to get work, but without well working communication, it's much harder to get a functioning team.

I might well be missing something, though - my experience with distributed teams is quite limited...
 
Mary Poppendieck
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There are plenty of open source teams - real teams - that have never met. I admit that it is much easier to form a real, committed team if there is personal interaction - most especially in a work environment. On the other hand, personal interaction will not necessarily create a committed team.

One thing that has been found to create a common commitment among team members is a threat. Thus a serious competitive threat has been known to unite people that could not agree on actions in easier times. Another way to form a committed team is to have a great leader. In fact, it can be argued that most high-performing teams have good leaders.

The bottom line is that in teams, members must be committed to each other to achieve a common purpose - no matter where they are located. Given the commitment - which is admittedly difficult to establish - the team will find a way to communicate.

Mary Poppendieck
 
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