Agile in a Distributed World

Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can't imagine a better job to have. He is interested in all things agile, or anything new to learn.

Agile was originally meant for teams that were collocated, where team members could see each other every day, and ceremonies like “daily stand up” were taken literally. In the 17 years that have passed since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the modern business environment has made this difficult, and sometimes even impossible. Team members can be dispersed all over the globe, in a building across the street, or even merely sitting on different sides of the same floor. Weather conditions can make coming into the office difficult, and recruiting talent all to the same location isn’t generally feasible at scale. It’s not a surprise that several large companies are building new headquarters in new areas, as a way to attract more employees and grow their workforce.

This new reality doesn’t mean that Agile can’t work unless everyone sits within eyesight of each other, quite the contrary. The principles as originally put forth by the manifesto still hold, and in fact, have been enduring words of wisdom, even as the world changes. There are challenges, of course, though there are ways to mitigate some of the risk, and even make being distributed as effective as the original founders intended for teams that were in the same place.

One of the challenges is around the logistics of when and how communication happens. If everyone is in the same city, or the same time zone, at …

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"It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head."

- Sally Kempton