Project Management

Tips for Maintaining Sustainable Pace on a Distributed Team

Mark Kilby is an agile coach who, for over two decades, has cultivated more distributed, dispersed and virtual teams than co-located teams. Currently, Mark serves as an agile coach with Sonatype, a distributed agile software development company focusing on automation of software supply chains. Previously, Mark led Agile transformations, from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Mark's book, From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams, is co-authored with Johanna Rothman and will be published in August 2018. A sample of the book is available now via and

When you started the new year, did your teams come back ready and refreshed, or were they worn down from working long hours? What about the project managers, ScrumMasters or coaches? Did you come back exhausted or refreshed?

One of my first jobs out of college was at a small engineering firm that set ambitious goals that made 60 to 80-hour weeks a common practice for team members. Unfortunately, illness and high turnover also became common as people became tired of running to exhaustion, and the quality of the work suffered greatly.

Sustainable Pace: A Challenge for Both Teams and Leaders
Distributed teams need to keep an eye on sustainable pace even more so than other teams. That’s because the time zone differences can put some team members at risk of working long hours just to stay synchronized with their fellow team members. The same is true for team leaders: They may feel even more compelled to keep track of everyone on a distributed agile team and spend additional time trying to shepherd their results.

The concept of maintaining a sustainable pace can help you and your teams deliver more predictably and be ready to push hard in those rare times an opportunity comes to the organization that needs rapid results (no more than two to three times a year). This is very similar to sports. If you play any type of sport, you quickly learn that you cannot run at 100%…

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