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Collocated vs Dispersed...which is better?

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  • Joseph Little
    Hi all, I am looking for evidence.... Here s my hypothesis, assumptions and basic arguments. What facts / experiences do you have to refute or confirm the
    Message 1 of 471 , Jul 30, 2008
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      Hi all,

      I am looking for evidence....

      Here's my hypothesis, assumptions and basic arguments. What facts /
      experiences do you have to refute or confirm the hypothesis?

      A team is about 2x more productive doing agile collocated than dispersed.

      Dispersed = no two people are in the same location. eg, each person
      is working at home.

      a. Disruption impediments are handled to the degree that disruption
      is equal in either case.
      b. There is no physical reason why the team cannot collocate (eg, no
      extreme commutes).
      c. There is no significant cost advantage to the firm in dispersion
      (or collocation) other than the productivity effect.
      d. A collocated team can get the advantages of a team room of a
      comfortable size, and also have space nearby for reasonable privacy.
      e. A dispersed team has "the best" dispersed support, except for high
      quality continuous video-conferencing. Video conferencing can be
      done on a shoe-string (web cams) and, on rare occasions, in an ok set-up.
      f. No other factor is different (I can't think of any other
      differences, but perhaps I am overlooking something...tell me if you
      think I am).
      g. The two teams are doing essentially the same form of Agile with
      the same "goodness".
      h. The two teams are relatively new to Agile and relatively new as teams.

      I have a client who believes they have facts that say a dispersed
      team (in this case, mostly working at home) is "better" than a
      collocated team. "Better" for them has a different meaning that productive.

      An argument is made that people in large offices get interrupted a
      lot; more than at home. I am assuming that, to the degree that that
      might be true, the SM and the Team reduce that impediment so that the
      disruption is equal. I further assume that the cost of dealing with
      that impediment is small.

      Let me add that...disruptions at home an infinitely less visible to
      the team and SM, so that they seldom are addressed ("unless the coder
      tells his wife to go to hell", as someone once put it).

      I have an additional hypothesis that collocation is also better in
      all respects (except in a few people's opinion), but let's do that one later.

      I do think that non-collocated teams can work, and sometimes be very
      productive. Jeff Sutherland has data to support that.

      I am just saying that no team should be allowed to give up on
      collocation "just because" (ie, without some powerful reasons), since
      they are cutting off half their productivity.

      My personal experiences are that collocation is so obviously better
      for new teams learning Agile, that no data is needed. But I also
      want to have data (if you all have some), to convince others.
      I personally find it extremely difficult to be effective as a coach
      if the team is not collocated.
      Collocation helps a new team do Forming, Storming, Norming (better, faster).
      My experience is that non-collocated "teams" never really form as a
      team. Or, if we call it a team, it has nothing like the same
      intensity and spirit.
      Xebia does high-quality high-productivity distributed (2 pod)
      development. BUT only after collocating each team for 10 weeks. I
      note that they do *not* do dispersed development (no two people in
      the same location). See Jeff Sutherland's paper on this.

      The following would be helpful.
      a. studies, papers on studies, books on studies, etc
      b. references to web sites
      c. your personal experiences
      d. references to experts
      e. references to previous threads here or in other lists
      f. other??


      Joseph Little
      Agile coach, MBA, CST
      Kitty Hawk Consulting, Inc.
      704-376-8881 (Charlotte)
      917-887-1669 (cell)
      Blog: "Agile & Business" (Google that)

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Keith Ray
      By the way, Classes and Objects referring to patterns of electrical charges in modern day CPU and Memory chips (or past and future equivalents) is a
      Message 471 of 471 , Sep 8 10:07 AM
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        By the way, "Classes" and "Objects" referring to patterns of
        electrical charges in modern day CPU and Memory chips (or past and
        future equivalents) is a metaphor too.

        C. Keith Ray, IXP Coach, Industrial Logic, Inc.
        http://industriallogic.com 866-540-8336 (toll free)
        Groove with our Agile Greatest Hits: http://www.industriallogic.com/elearning/
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