Welcome to the Virtual Agile coach!

First post – I want to review and recommend the excellent book: From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver by Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby. Coaches facing remote teams or team members are in luck. This book, published this Spring, collates a lot of the wisdom around the coaching community regarding remote teams.

The advice ranges from the somewhat obvious, such as having sufficient overlap hours, to the obscure, like tips are a bit more obscure, like meeting in person a minimum of a week per quarter for distributed teams. For teams that cannot collocate for at least a week, they suggest “visualizing the team’s value stream and measuring the team’s cost of delay.” Great advice!

Remote coaching is an exercise in trade-offs. You get the flexibility of a global workforce and an ostensibly happier group of people (commuting is energy sapping), traded for the benefits of in-person communication and the strong social ties that come from people working in the same space. Agility is no different. With the new tools and techniques, you can deliver much better than you could when the manifesto was created. That makes their book so much better. Think about this, the Agile Manifesto came out in 2001. This is what the cast of Harry Potter looked like in 2001:

2001 – Radcliffe was eleven. Watson was ten.

Since 2001 (when the Agile Manifesto was signed), our world’s operating system has been upgraded: Slack apps, global wireless broadband, handheld computers called “phones”, a bevy of agile tools, and social media networks. Generationally younger workers are going to be used to ignoring distance and will be confused when their employer insists on a 40-50 hour work week all in person, not including commute times.

Agility will change. In my next installment I’ll discuss how I leveraged the Agile Fluency Model to bring some of my own sanity back to a challenging remote engagement.

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