Where do I start with this team. Maybe right there. This is a Team. The journey this team has gone through, and is continuing to go through so far is awesome!
I am not going to make this post about all of the technical ways this team improved the way they work or how they work together. I may mention some things they do or tools they use, but this post is just simply going to be about the most important part of the team, the people.
This is a large group of people spread across multiple time-zones from California to India. The amount of sacrifice, time and dedication this team has shown has been one of the best experiences working with teams. And this all in the wake of COVID and working remotely.
Let me be clear about the sacrifice, time and dedication. They do not work 80 hour weeks. There are times when the team will decide to hang around together on a call late because they feel they are close to finishing something, but that is not necessary, it is a choice they make. Their sacrifice is one of sacrificing the way they have always worked before, to take a chance on learning a new way of working. Their time is that of taking the time to ask questions and experiment. Their dedication is to sticking with this type of working model even through the tough spots but believing it is better and will continue to get better.
Anyone with real agile experience with great teams know that the best teams are co-located. Especially agile teams. Co-located agile teams set up spaces where the team sits and works together. Our walls are covered with Proto-Personas, Story Maps, 2×2’s, Opportunity Canvas’, Story mockups and notes, Definition of Done, Workflow Board, Release Strategy Grid, and really anything else we find to be helpful. Agile teams that start co-located and go remote can utilize tools like Mural and Miro to replicate this. And as you might imagine, those teams make that transition to remote with relative ease.
This Team started their agile journey fully remote. Working with a guy they never met trying to convince them about things like agile values and principles, Extreme Programming practices and culture, Product Thinking, Agile frameworks like XP, Scrum, Kanban and DevOps practices. This team had to figure it out the hard way. And they are doing it by removing their bias towards how to approach work and working together. They use tools like Miro, Confluence, and Jira to remotely collaborate on discovery and delivery.
Personally, I would just as soon be rid of Jira and just use Miro.
This team has worked through and continues to work through breaking down silos between the standard roles of Business Analysts, Developers, and QA Specialists to form a solid team of equals working towards a strategic objective that supports the product vision.
They meet every iteration to find ways to improve how they work together with one simple rule to that meeting, Vegas Baby. What happens in the retrospective, stays in the retrospective. It is one of the practices that supports an honest, trusting, and safe culture where everyone is valued.
I am updating this at the moment since the team is maturing, the retrospective now occurs in a really ad-hoc kind of way. The team identifies something that is causing them pain in their process, they meet to discuss it, make corrections, and move on. Those corrections may not be perfect solutions every time, but they learn from it and make adjustments.
This is not a long post by design. I just wanted to share that this team is doing something that most would say is impossible to do. They are becoming a fully remote agile team, spanning multiple difficult time-zones, personalities, backgrounds, product approach, bias, and organizational constraints to build software solutions that people like, use, and keep using.