VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF SCIENTIST FOR DISCIPLINED AGILE, PMI
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a “black swan event” that has forced most organizations to scramble to figure out how to do their work remotely. Many agile teams are struggling to work remotely, this being particularly tough for some agilists who had mistakenly convinced themselves that they needed to be co-located to be agile. By the time you read this article, you have likely addressed many of the challenges you face when working remotely and are well on the way to adopting common solutions to this challenge.
So, let me show you how you can organize your work smoothly and what you can do the next time you need to identify a new way of working (WoW).
1. Remote agile isn’t new. Agile teams have been dealing with geographic distribution for a long time. For years I have led research efforts to discover what was actually happening within the agile community. We have explored agility at scale – particularly during 2009, 2012, 2014, and 2016 – including how geographically distributed agile teams are in practice. The research tells us how others have dealt with, and overcome, the challenges presented by remote agile. We can learn from them and adapt our WoW quickly to address the current context.
2. Geographic distribution is only one of several scaling factors. Although we are now all focused on learning remote ways of working, the fact is that geographic distribution is only one of several potential complexities that our team may have to overcome. Figure 1 depicts the six scaling factors, sometimes called complexity factors, commonly faced by agile teams. This is important because the mantra of “agile teams should be small, co-located, and taking on a straightforward problem” rarely seems to hold true in practice. We must tailor our WoW to address the situation that we face – just as we are seeing many teams tailor their WoW to work remotely, they must also tailor their WoW to address these other scaling factors.