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Distributed Teams Can be Effective...Enough

Scrum, like other Agile approaches, emphasises team co-location. So, shouldn't  Esther Derby, ScrumMaster, know better than to write about distributed teams? By way of answer: Scrum creator Ken Schwaber is also famous for saying "It depends".

One source frequently cited on the subject of "high bandwidth" interpersonal communication is Cockburn's communication effectiveness graph, which ranks "in person", "by phone" and email as providing ever decreasing effectiveness. This chart, contained in his seminal book Agile Software Development, may also be seen online in his article Characterizing People as Non-Linear, First-Order Components in Software Development

Even when they are aware of Cockburn's good advice, teams new to Agile often need to prove themselves before they can hope to challenge existing practices. Distributed teams are a reality in many organizations, and Agile teams, while acknowledging losses in effectiveness, are making them work. And, depending on the level of effectiveness sought, this may yield an acceptable level of improvement over previous processes.

Given these realities, and the challenges they pose, Esther notes "you can't just hope that communication will work." In this StickyMinds article, she offers Five Tactics to Compensate for Distance on Distributed Teams  .

Esther Derby is a recognized international trainer in retrospective facilitation, and is well known for helping teams grow to new levels of productivity, using tools that include project retrospectives and project assessments.

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