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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Scrum in non-co-located, non-overlapping teams? (was: Meeting minutes for stand up meetings

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  • George Dinwiddie
    Sean, ... If I were trying to produce software with people dispersed to a degree that they had no overlapping time, I don t think I would model the process on
    Message 1 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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      Sean,

      On 1/2/13 12:11 PM, Sean Corfield wrote:
      >
      >
      > On Sun, Dec 30, 2012 at 9:47 AM, Account <richardknaster@...
      > <mailto:richardknaster@...>> wrote:
      >
      > __
      >
      > Notes are very useful for distributed teams when there are no
      > over-lapping hours and when there are several team members whose
      > primary language is not the same as what is being used on the call.
      >
      >
      > Can such a team even do "Scrum"? (genuine question) They can't do daily
      > stand up meetings - since their time doesn't overlap. Presumably there
      > are other aspects of self-organization in Scrum which they can't
      > effectively do since they don't have overlapping time? How is that
      > supposed to work?

      If I were trying to produce software with people dispersed to a degree
      that they had no overlapping time, I don't think I would model the
      process on Scrum. I'd probably look at the open source model.

      >
      > (My reason for asking is my team are geographically dispersed although
      > they only cover three timezones so they do overlap in time - therefore
      > I'm interested to hear what impact on Scrum people think a lack of
      > co-location, a shift in timezones, and a language barrier all have)

      When you do have an overlap, you can do Scrum, though it will require a
      lot of effort from everyone.

      - George

      --
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
      Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
      Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    • Markus Gaertner
      Hi Sean, ... Not really. I was more referring to the pairing that happens, when I run into a problem with some particular code, and don t know how to fizz
      Message 2 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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        Hi Sean,

        On Wed, Jan 2, 2013 at 11:53 PM, Sean Corfield <seancorfield@...> wrote:
        Now you're conflating an XP practice (pairing) with Scrum which is getting off-topic, yes? ***

        Not really. I was more referring to the "pairing" that happens, when I run into a problem with some particular code, and don't know how to fizz the foobar with the buzz. Then I need to find someone else how can show me how to do that. Most of the time I saw this happening in a good way was when people stood up from their desk, moved to another ones desk, who showed this to them directly - or if the expert joined the novice on her own desk.

        You appear to compensate for that using a group chat. That's a good idea. However, you probably don't know how often people work themselves into the rathole before they ask on the group chat. That's what I would be bothered about. And that's what I refer to as opportunity costs in communication based upon communication distance (and I think I stole it from Alistair Cockburn).

        Best
        Markus

        --
        Dipl.-Inform. Markus Gärtner
        Author of ATDD by Example - A Practical Guide to Acceptance Test-Driven Development
        http://www.shino.de/blog
        http://www.mgaertne.de
        http://www.it-agile.de
        Twitter: @mgaertne
      • Sean Corfield
        ... Good to know, thanx. Sometimes the discussions in this group can give the impression that everyone can do Scrum if they just apply sufficient effort, so
        Message 3 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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          On Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 4:03 AM, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
          If I were trying to produce software with people dispersed to a degree
          that they had no overlapping time, I don't think I would model the
          process on Scrum. I'd probably look at the open source model.

          Good to know, thanx. Sometimes the discussions in this group can give the impression that "everyone" can do Scrum if they just apply sufficient effort, so it's good to see recognition of situations where it can't be applied - and that there are effective alternatives.

          When you do have an overlap, you can do Scrum, though it will require a 
          lot of effort from everyone.

          Yes, agreed on the effort added by geo-distribution. At one point I thought we might start to coalesce the team in the Bay Area but a key member had to move away for family reasons and we figured better to keep the team chemistry and work remotely than cut them and rebuild. It's worked well so far (given the usual caveats of remote working) but as we ramp up the team size this year, we'll face more challenges with remote working. If we ever do centralize our team, I'll want to try Scrum "properly".
          --
          Sean A Corfield -- (904) 302-SEAN
          An Architect's View -- http://corfield.org/
          World Singles, LLC. -- http://worldsingles.com/

          "Perfection is the enemy of the good."
          -- Gustave Flaubert, French realist novelist (1821-1880)
        • Sean Corfield
          ... Ah, fair enough. ... Yes, definitely something we have to deal with - it amazes me how much work it is to ensure people feel empowered to ask for help when
          Message 4 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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            On Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 7:23 AM, Markus Gaertner <mgaertne@...> wrote:
            Not really. I was more referring to the "pairing" that happens, when I run into a problem with some particular code, and don't know how to fizz the foobar with the buzz. Then I need to find someone else how can show me how to do that. Most of the time I saw this happening in a good way was when people stood up from their desk, moved to another ones desk, who showed this to them directly - or if the expert joined the novice on her own desk.

            Ah, fair enough.
             
            You appear to compensate for that using a group chat. That's a good idea. However, you probably don't know how often people work themselves into the rathole before they ask on the group chat. That's what I would be bothered about. And that's what I refer to as opportunity costs in communication based upon communication distance (and I think I stole it from Alistair Cockburn).

            Yes, definitely something we have to deal with - it amazes me how much work it is to ensure people feel empowered to ask for help when they need it (and to teach them to recognize when they need help!). As we grow our team, I expect to spend more of my time doing mentoring, which I hope will address this to some extent.
            --
            Sean A Corfield -- (904) 302-SEAN
            An Architect's View -- http://corfield.org/
            World Singles, LLC. -- http://worldsingles.com/

            "Perfection is the enemy of the good."
            -- Gustave Flaubert, French realist novelist (1821-1880)
          • Ron Jeffries
            Hi Sean, ... Well, one could argue (and this one would) that refusal to collocate the team constitutes insufficient effort. That said, there are many decent
            Message 5 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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              Hi Sean,

              On Jan 3, 2013, at 1:49 PM, Sean Corfield <seancorfield@...> wrote:

              Good to know, thanx. Sometimes the discussions in this group can give the impression that "everyone" can do Scrum if they just apply sufficient effort, so it's good to see recognition of situations where it can't be applied - and that there are effective alternatives.

              Well, one could argue (and this one would) that refusal to collocate the team constitutes insufficient effort. That said, there are many decent ways to build software and if a company chooses for some reason to use extremely distributed teams (despite the 4X or greater performance decline), then Scrum may not be a good choice for them. 
              Impossible is not a fact. It is an opinion.  -- Muhammad Ali


            • Sean Corfield
              ... That was almost spoonfed, just waiting for your response! :) -- Sean A Corfield -- (904) 302-SEAN An Architect s View -- http://corfield.org/ World
              Message 6 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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                On Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 11:01 AM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
                Well, one could argue (and this one would) that refusal to collocate the team constitutes insufficient effort.

                That was almost spoonfed, just waiting for your response! :)
                -- 
                Sean A Corfield -- (904) 302-SEAN
                An Architect's View -- http://corfield.org/
                World Singles, LLC. -- http://worldsingles.com/

                "Perfection is the enemy of the good."
                -- Gustave Flaubert, French realist novelist (1821-1880)
              • scott
                I completely agree that you take a hit by not all being in one place! My point about the standup meeting is that to me it s the least important of the Scrum
                Message 7 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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                  I completely agree that you take a hit by not all being in one place!

                  My point about the standup meeting is that to me it's the least important of the Scrum elements - it's specifically constrained in format to a level of sharing that doesn't really require synchronicity (though that's still the best way to go!). If everybody is sharing that information daily with the rest of the team you're still getting most of the benefit of the meeting.

                  I think the dispersed approach has other problems in information sharing that are MUCH more significant than whether or not you have a daily meeting - the lack of the continuous communication and contextual awareness among the team members is the big hit. I worked last year as a remote collaborator with an otherwise collocated team, relying on webcams and skype. It worked pretty well except when it didn't work at all, because nobody thought to call me for an impromptu discussion.

                  BUT, at the same time, that all-in-one-room model is not specifically a Scrum thing. I still think the absolutely critical thing for calling a process "Scrum" is the prioritization-selection-tracking-demo-retrospective cycle guided by a scrum master, rather than whether the "tracking" part is done in a real-time meeting or via regular-but-asynchronous sharing.

                  scott

                  --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Mark Levison wrote:
                  >
                  > Sean you're probably doing pretty well and the best you can given the
                  > circumstances.
                  >
                  > The point about not Scrum is that everything should have a label so we're
                  > clear about what is in bonds and what isn't.
                  >
                  > As to creating multiple teams I usually hear about mixed onshore offshore
                  > teams and I get asked how to coordinate 14-15 people in this context. My
                  > answer was about that sort of case.
                  >
                  > cheers
                  > Mark - mangled by a phone
                  > On Jan 2, 2013 5:53 PM, "Sean Corfield" wrote:
                  >
                  > > **
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > On Wed, Jan 2, 2013 at 1:44 PM, Markus Gaertner wrote:
                  > >
                  > >> **
                  > >>
                  > >> well, putting it to extremes, a Scrum team that works all over the
                  > >> globe would probably have to plan in time so that they could pair up
                  > >> with someone not in their timezone once they tackle a particular hard
                  > >> task at hand. Even pairing for 2 hours becomes a drag with it.
                  > >>
                  > >
                  > > Now you're conflating an XP practice (pairing) with Scrum which is getting
                  > > off-topic, yes? ***
                  > >
                  > > Others in this thread have touched on an interesting subtlety that I
                  > > hadn't considered: focusing on actual vocal sharing of information, rather
                  > > than (for example) a group chat room. Both allow for a virtual stand up
                  > > meeting for a distributed team in real time. Are there specific benefits to
                  > > a conference call as opposed to going round a chat room, having each person
                  > > summarize yesterday's achievements, today's planned work and any obstacles
                  > > in their path?
                  > >
                  > > I think there are definite benefits to a real time meeting - in contrast
                  > > to Scott's position that async communication could replace the stand up -
                  > > but I'm interested to hear thoughts on an audio meeting vs a group chat
                  > > meeting. FWIW, our whole team is in a group chat room (instant message) on
                  > > Skype all day long and we work primarily Pacific day time to ensure maximum
                  > > overlap. The group chat is where we all ask questions, share information
                  > > and coordinate anything that the team as a whole works on. We don't
                  > > (currently) have a daily stand up via the group chat but as we grow the
                  > > team I'll probably instigate that to ensure that at least once a day
                  > > everyone really does share progress and problems.
                  > >
                  > > I'm under no illusions about what we're doing not being Scrum - given our
                  > > likely physical setup for the foreseeable future I don't see Scrum as
                  > > achievable for us. We use Unfuddle as a wiki, ticketing system and git
                  > > repository so any work committed or any ticket updated by any team member
                  > > is communicated to all team members (and, at least so far, all team members
                  > > seem to take the time to read thru those emails and offer advice on each
                  > > other's tickets or ask questions about aspects of solutions).
                  > >
                  > > Mark suggested creating independent Scrum teams in each location but that
                  > > wouldn't apply in our situation - everyone works from home and no two team
                  > > members live close enough to meet up and work together physically.
                  > >
                  > > *** As for pairing, we use iChat for shared control of a single computer
                  > > with two-way audio and that works pretty well since the team all know each
                  > > other pretty well (but this is getting off into XP territory and isn't
                  > > really relevant to this thread).
                  > > --
                  > > Sean A Corfield -- (904) 302-SEAN
                  > > An Architect's View -- http://corfield.org/
                  > > World Singles, LLC. -- http://worldsingles.com/
                  > >
                  > > "Perfection is the enemy of the good."
                  > > -- Gustave Flaubert, French realist novelist (1821-1880)
                  > >
                  > >
                  >
                • Mark Levison
                  ... Conversely after the retrospective I would argue its the 2nd most important meeting in Scrum. Basically I tell teams if you can t talk daily then its not
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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                    On Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 3:46 PM, scott <sepreece@...> wrote:
                     

                    I completely agree that you take a hit by not all being in one place!

                    My point about the standup meeting is that to me it's the least important of the Scrum elements - it's specifically constrained in format to a level of sharing that doesn't really require synchronicity (though that's still the best way to go!). If everybody is sharing that information daily with the rest of the team you're still getting most of the benefit of the meeting.


                    Conversely after the retrospective I would argue its the 2nd most important meeting in Scrum.

                    Basically I tell teams if you can't talk daily then its not going to go well. Remember the purpose of the meeting is to coordinate and synchronize for the rest of the day. Sharing of information is how we do that.

                    Cheers
                    Mark Levison
                    Agile Pain Relief Consulting | Writing
                    Proud Sponsor of Agile Tour Gatineau Ottawa Nov 28, Toronto 26 and Montreal 24
                  • woynam
                    It must be the 5x cost savings. (Rolls eyes). Mark
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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                      <sarcasm>

                      It must be the 5x cost savings. (Rolls eyes).

                      </sarcasm>

                      Mark

                      --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Ron Jeffries wrote:
                      >
                      > Hi Sean,
                      >
                      > On Jan 3, 2013, at 1:49 PM, Sean Corfield wrote:
                      >
                      > > Good to know, thanx. Sometimes the discussions in this group can give the impression that "everyone" can do Scrum if they just apply sufficient effort, so it's good to see recognition of situations where it can't be applied - and that there are effective alternatives.
                      >
                      >
                      > Well, one could argue (and this one would) that refusal to collocate the team constitutes insufficient effort. That said, there are many decent ways to build software and if a company chooses for some reason to use extremely distributed teams (despite the 4X or greater performance decline), then Scrum may not be a good choice for them.
                      >
                      > Ron Jeffries
                      > www.XProgramming.com
                      > Impossible is not a fact. It is an opinion. -- Muhammad Ali
                      >
                    • Sean Corfield
                      ... Yes, having most of the team co-located and just one or two remote is almost the worst of both worlds. I saw that several times at Macromedia where one or
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jan 3, 2013
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                        On Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 12:46 PM, scott <sepreece@...> wrote:

                        I worked last year as a remote collaborator with an otherwise collocated team, relying on webcams and skype. It worked pretty well except when it didn't work at all, because nobody thought to call me for an impromptu discussion.


                        Yes, having most of the team co-located and just one or two remote is almost the worst of both worlds. I saw that several times at Macromedia where one or two team members had moved away for various reasons and the rest of the team mostly continued on without them :(

                        At least when everyone is remote, everyone is aware of communication needing to include "the team" rather than "an individual".
                        --
                        Sean A Corfield -- (904) 302-SEAN
                        An Architect's View -- http://corfield.org/
                        World Singles, LLC. -- http://worldsingles.com/

                        "Perfection is the enemy of the good."
                        -- Gustave Flaubert, French realist novelist (1821-1880)
                      • scott
                        Well, I didn t say you didn t need to be able to talk everyday - just that you may be able to get along without an all-together-at-the-same-time standup
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jan 4, 2013
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                          Well, I didn't say you didn't need to be able to talk everyday - just that you may be able to get along without an all-together-at-the-same-time standup meeting, if you've got good communications and a discipline of sharing.

                          But this is largely hypothetical, in any case - I'm not recommending it! Sometimes, though, the people you need to do what you want to do aren't in the same place and aren't fungible.

                          scott

                          --- In scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com, Mark Levison wrote:
                          >
                          > On Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 3:46 PM, scott wrote:
                          >
                          > > **
                          > >
                          > >
                          > > I completely agree that you take a hit by not all being in one place!
                          > >
                          > > My point about the standup meeting is that to me it's the least important
                          > > of the Scrum elements - it's specifically constrained in format to a level
                          > > of sharing that doesn't really require synchronicity (though that's still
                          > > the best way to go!). If everybody is sharing that information daily with
                          > > the rest of the team you're still getting most of the benefit of the
                          > > meeting.
                          > >
                          >
                          > Conversely after the retrospective I would argue its the 2nd most important
                          > meeting in Scrum.
                          >
                          > Basically I tell teams if you can't talk daily then its not going to go
                          > well. Remember the purpose of the meeting is to coordinate and synchronize
                          > for the rest of the day. Sharing of information is how we do that.
                          >
                          > Cheers
                          > Mark Levison
                          > Agile Pain Relief Consulting
                          > | Writing
                          > Proud Sponsor of Agile Tour Gatineau Ottawa Nov
                          > 28, Toronto
                          > 26 and Montreal 24
                          >
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