Published on July 22, 2014
The Leading Mobile User Acquisition Network Cero a Cien Building successful distributed agile teams Matt Phillips (https://www.linkedin.com/in/MatthewPhillipsCSM) José Naranjo (https://www.linkedin.com/in/JoseNaranjo/en)
Ignorance is bliss
Start with vision of success… Mindset: Use agile principles and values as building blocks …then build a roadmap
Agile principles and values as pillars Values Respect Commitment Trust Visibility / Openness Courage Principles Prioritization Accountability Inspect and adapt Rhythm Feedback Collaboration Self-organization Focus
“Let it grow” or “let it go” Because you know what success looks like Don’t slowly water a dying plant
Step 1: Before embarking Pre-flight checklist: – Why? – What is success? – How do we get there?
Why are we doing this? Understand the “why” for setting up a distributed team Possible reasons: – Need new talent pool to support rapid growth – Need to quickly spin up team with low HR overhead – Gain proximity to customer – Scale with mergers/ acquisitions/ expansion – Source skillsets and knowledge bases Beware of generic arguments Focus Courage Self-organization
What will success look like? These factors exist for the Team: – They will be considered exactly like any local team • “ just sit in a different place” – They will be independent O&Os • As opposed to augmenting existing teams – They will work on roadmap features • Not legacy or bug support – They will tell us when we’re wrong – We’ll frequently collaborate in person • Continual travel is part of the budget and plan Create a timeline view of success (Experiment Template) – Indications of Success – Amplification strategy – Indications of Failure – Recovery Strategy Respect Self-organization Commitment Openness Collaboration Rhythm Inspect and adapt Accountability Feedback
How do we get there? Partner selection funnel – Score card, research, video interviews, site visits, meet the people – Initial list: Ukraine, Costa Rica, South America – Our itinerary: Peru, Colombia, Uruguay Pre-empt concerns – Open communication and collaboration – Company alignment – Communication, infrastructure, legal Understand “irrefutable” cultural norms – “Ahora” vs. “Ya” – Jugaad Commitment Focus Visibility Feedback Collaboration Courage Respect
Step 2: Gaining momentum Hire and build: – People – Places – Things
People Hire as you would locally – Tech test, interviews, etc. – Cohesion and respect across teams Get to know styles, personalities, methods – Meet In person ASAP. – Who is grumpy, helpful, Informal, formal, busy? Establish roles and Points of Contact – Use 1 “go-to” at first, then “reroute the water” – Roles: • Scrum Master • Product Owner • Tech Liaison • Module Owners • Advocate per locale Respect Collaboration Commitment Inspect and adapt Feedback Focus Rhythm Feedback
Places Get out of the building – Interact person-to-person – Gain corporate and cultural insights – “Phone home” Understand how we do it “(t)here” – Process and corporate style for both sites – Understand cultural norms and differences Mindset: Inclusion and communication – “We” not “They” – Avoid 3rd person references Accountability Collaboration Visibility Inspect and adapt Visibility Collaboration Respect Respect Commitment Collaboration
Things Goal: A team is a team and we want every team to succeed. – Solve for feedback loops and real-time communication Definition of Done – OK to care about quality and continuous improvement, instead of just a deadline? Tools (real time and offline methods) – Onboarding guide* – Corporate Email and group distributions – Wiki, Google docs, Reviewboard – IM (Hipchat) – Include in regular meetings Video and high-quality audio is a must – Hangouts: Quick. Easy. Free. – GoToMeeting for larger, more formal situations – Invest in cameras, microphones, and speakers • (The nearshore offices have them, why don’t we?) Accountability Collaboration Self-organization Feedback Visibility Respect Commitment Collaboration Feedback Visibility
You can’t lead from the 2nd chair The level of engagement for the remote team can only be as good as “home office” level of engagement (no more)
Step 3: Maintain and build “When you stop growing you start dying.” – William S. Burroughs
Create a shared vision and “why” Everyone knows the big picture – Team members do new-hire training (Appia 101) – Team joins all-hands meetings, participates in engineering team meetings. (avoids isolation) Lean story writing – Clearly explain a problem, team is in charge of solving it Module owners and tech liaisons – Collaboration of software principles – Consistency in development = less friction and waste Key learning: Avoid drinking from the fire hose – TMI at the onset; pacing and context is key – Incrementally build overall system knowledge Commitment Trust Openness Self-organization Feedback Rhythm Collaboration Focus Inspect and adapt
Trust, trust, trust (but verify)DO! • Inclusion • Take early risks • Act successful • Advocate • Equality of process DONOT! • Spoon-feed • Dodge crucial conversations • Create work- arounds • Engage in 1- way dialogue Trust Commitment Courage Inspect and adapt Openness Accountability Respect Feedback Collaboration
Relentless feedback loops Daily Applications: – Delivery Team Meetings – Roles: Module Owners, Tech Liaison, Agile Coach – X-team code reviews – Mantras: Hipchat for questions, Hangouts for decisions, emails for summaries – “Enjambre” and living daily burndowns Scrum ceremonies as touch points – Weekly ‘story planning’ with PO – Bi-weekly sprint planning and “Puño de cinco” – Demo to the stakeholders – Retrospectives – the Team controls their own success Key learning: – Lacked product overviews as demos while onboarding – Didn’t front-load face-to-face experiences – Too much info at onboarding time Feedback Inspect and adapt Rhythm Visibility Collaboration Self-organization Commitment Accountability Focus
Reduction formula Create a vision, make a plan Use agile concepts to reduce energy loss Have the courage to “let it go”
Take the first step If you are working with a distributed team: – What does a successful partnership look like? How can you leverage Agile to improve it? If you are not yet working with a distributed team: – Are there 3 reasons why an additional team could be beneficial to your business? How can you create opportunity?
New tool in the toolbox Find additional talent pools Offload HR staffing, sourcing, hiring Gain proximity, time zone alignment with customer Scale with mergers, acquisitions, expansion Source skillsets and knowledge bases Create cost savings*
Set the path, follow it together
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