Sunday, April 23, 2017

Agile Team Performance

Basic Information about AGILE  Team Performance

Agile Team Space
Collocated Teams
Collocated vs Distributed teams
Osmotic communication

Team Space

Teams are important in Agile and therefore, the space where they work is important too. Team Space, also known as ‘War Room’, refers to the environment in which the team performs their everyday work. Team space also has other names such as ‘team room’, ‘project room’, or ‘delivery room’.
Establishing a team space involves gathering an entire team in one room. Agile emphasizes a number of important factors to improve the effectiveness of team space that foster communication and motivation, leading to higher productivity.

Signs of Bad Team Space

Bad team spaces can lead to chaotic and unproductive team output. Often, lack of communication is cited as the single biggest cause of project failure.

As depicted on the image, some signs of bad team space are:

Minimal or poor interaction among the team members
Seating arrangement by job description
Stale artifacts on the walls
Team members wearing headphones
More focus on the furniture layout than on creating team space
Lack of information radiators in the workspace
Unattractive spaces

The focus should be on reducing distractions to avoid communication gaps, thereby consistently delivering the predicted outcome and value.

Co-Located Teams

Co-located teams work together in the same physical location. Each team will have all the skills required. Collaboration and coordination is easier in the co-located teams. However, usually, co-located team would be independent and be able to work on its own.
The image depicts a co-located team in Location A.

Distributed Teams

In Distributed teams, the team members work in geographically dispersed locations. Some of the characteristics of these teams are:
Individuals in different cities work together as one team.
Each location has people with different skills. This reduces the need to collaborate across geographies or time zones.
In case the co-located team does not have all the required skills needed for a project, distributed teams can be used to fill such gaps.
It is cost-effective to leverage distributed teams.

Co-Located vs. Distributed Teams

One of the myths around Agile is that it only works on co-located teams. Agile can work on both distributed and co-located teams. A co-located team is an advantage regardless of the methodology, because it makes coordination and collaboration easier. An Agile team, like any other team, can work around these difficulties and make the methodology work even on a distributed team.
The differences between the co-located teams and distributed teams are listed here.

In co-located teams:

The team members are seated together in a room, creating a “war room”
Issues are resolved informally in a timely manner
Incidental interaction leads to productivity
Team decides the roles to adopt based on sprint goals
They follow ‘Caves and Commons’ pattern:
Caves—For phone calls, short meetings, or for team members to concentrate
Commons—Open, shared workspaces for the team where osmotic communication occurs

In distributed teams:

Teams are distributed geographically
Formal logging of knowledge occurs
Structured use of processes is ensured
Explicit role definition is done via tasks
Exploit technology for collaboration
Use live video conferencing
Use group chat Instant Messaging
When sending mail, choose the recipient, and CC the rest of the team
Have forums or corporate information hubs

Osmotic Communication

Osmotic Communication refers to the information that is overheard in the background of the team room and some of it is absorbed. It is one of the benefits of having co-located team.
As depicted in the image, there are no impediments that impact the flow of information across the work area. Therefore, in such environment, osmotic communication happens naturally.

Collaboration and Coordination

Collaboration and coordination are required for a project.
Collaboration is the process of bringing together the knowledge, experience, and skills of multiple team members to contribute to the development of a new product. It requires some level of coordination between the team. The act of collaboration enables the team to achieve potentially a lot more than the “sum of the parts”. Coordination is the act of sharing information among the team members. Collaboration and coordination requires some level of interaction.
A few guidelines for using the interaction modes to foster greater collaboration and coordination are as follows:

Understand and make use of the various interaction modes that are available. For example, e-mail, instant messaging, video conferencing, and in-person meeting.
Match the interaction mode with collaboration practices. For example, brainstorming may require an in-person meeting, whereas a status update can be done by e-mail or conference call.
Use lower-cost interaction methods as much as possible.
Highly effective methods must be used for critical, higher-risk activities.

Source: Contribution from RAVEENDRAN RANGANAYAGALU

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