Monday, February 16, 2009

On of the primary challenges we have with our distributed organization is creating that interpersonal interaction that comes so easily when the team is located in one place. There is nothing like being there and this is probably the central constraining factor inhibiting our Agile adoption. None the less I'm happy to be working with a team that wants to push the envelope. With out the Internet we wouldn't even be trying to build a product on 3 continents spread across 10.5 time zones.

We've tried a few way's to make up for the daily scrum. Communication is really our big challenge. One of our first attempts was to hold a virtual daily scrum via a customized share point message board and a recurring Outlook appt. This worked well enough that we got good participation and people were itchy to improve it. The idea was that every day as close as possible to 8am Eastern time every one was to post a message to this share point discussion board under the root item of the current day such as 14 Jan. I figured that the folks in India would participate at the end of their work day and the folks in US would participate at the start of their work day, the folks in Europe well they could pick a time in the middle of the day. Well I was really rather ego centric. I didn't realize how self centered I was being based in the US Eastern time zone. This model of communication we really best for the US participants. It didn't make sense to be almost at the same time.

A thought I had for a while was what about all this social networking stuff. Can't I apply some of that technology to make my distributed agile team more social? One of my first thoughts was to use Twitter to host our virtual daily scrum. One our managers, rightfully so raised security concerns with twitter messages disclosing sensitive "intellectual property". So when we discovered Yammer it was something to get excited about. is like a Twitter for people at work. We've been using Yammer now for about a month. I've seen some discusions and disagreemetns arise from Yammer posts so I believe it is working. Very nice tool and thanks to the folks behind