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It's a term coined by Alistair Cockburn, one of the originators of Agile, the definition of which is:
"Osmotic communication means that information flows into the background hearing of members of the team, so that they pick up relevant information as though by osmosis. This is normally accomplished by seating them in the same room. Then, when one person asks a question, others in the room can either tune in or tune out, contributing to the discussion or continuing with their work"
You can get a full synopsis at his site.
I'd say its importance lies with Agile's notion of having co-located teams. In other words, it's the implied benefit of having teams closely located and working together.
It's also important if your taking the PMI-ACP as it's one of the topics covered by it.
Don, I've heard people asking if osmotic communication can work with virtual team. If it can, what are the key factors to look out for?
I think at core, osmotic comm cannot really work in a virtual environment and is why Agile is typically criticized for not scaling very well or working across distributed teams.
OTH, if the teams you are working with are well known to each other and have at least met face-to-face a few times and "gel" well with each other, then this kind of osmotic absorption of information could work. But I think this will require a PM with really good facilitation skills at making virtual communications run smooth and effectively.
Thanks for the details. I guess it boils down to individual PM and the maturity of the team for osmotic communication to work well. Being in a virtual environment, like you said, would be a challenge to get people focused.
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