Understanding Distance for a Geographically Distributed Team

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Understanding Distance for a Geographically Distributed Team

When your team is located across large distances, how are you supposed to handle collaboration and working together? Read on for some insight.

· Agile Zone ·
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As Mark Kilby and I work through the images and text for the geographically distributed teams book we are writing, I wanted to clarify what collocated and distributed mean.

Collocated teams sit near each other in space. However, not everyone agrees on what is “near.”

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In Developing Products in Half the Time, Smith and Reinertsen use the Allen Curve to discuss the distance at which you can consider a team to be distributed as opposed to collocated.

Notice that there’s only a 30% chance of communication when people are 8 meters apart. It takes about 10 steps to walk 8 meters. Yes, 10 steps. It takes about 40 steps to walk 30 meters. That’s all. We’re not talking a lot of time and distance here.

Notice that by the time you get to 24 meters (30-31 steps), you have less than a 5% chance of communication. This is not just to ask a question, but any communication.

The Allen Curve explains why team rooms work so well for Agile teams.

If your team is not all on the same floor, in a close cluster of offices/cubes, you have some sort of a geographically distributed team. Yes, even if you are all on the same campus. If you are in one building or on one campus, you have what I’ve been calling a geo-fence around the team. Your managers might not realize you have a distributed team, but you do.

What do geographically distributed teams do? They create a virtual team room. They use that space.

The first step is to realize you have a distributed team. The next is to realize you need a team space so you can all collaborate.

agile, agile teams, collaboration, geographically distributed teams, remote teams

Published at DZone with permission of Johanna Rothman , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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