Mike Cohn takes note of the limitations of the one small colocated team theory of doing software projects, the theoretical underpinning of agile, and the advance of agile methods into the space of larger projects and projects with practical resource limitations:
The early agile literature was adamant about two things: stick with small teams and put everyone in one room.
However, in the years since the Agile Manifesto, the increasing popularity of agile and the dramatic improvements it brings has pushed it onto larger and larger projects.
Additionally, having an entire team--especially on a large project--in one room, or even one building is a luxury no longer enjoyed by many projects.
I for one am glad to see the mainstream agile community get to this place. After all, the community has 15 years of experience behind it:
- Mid-90's early SCUM and XP projects led by a small cadre of thought leaders
- 2001 at Snowbird, UT: Agile--the name--and subsequently the agile manifesto
- 2003-2005: a spate of books by the Snowbird 17 explaining it all
- 2010: my book: "Project Management the Agile way; making it work in the enterprise"
- 2011: here we are!
His scaling advice more or less comes down to the SCRUM of SCRUMS approach (Mike is mostly a SCRUM advocate/expert),
He has several ideas on distributed teams:
He has a nice pro-con comparison on things like (for the non-colocated team) 'the long telephone call', and offers advice like: make it two calls, the first to set the agenda for the second and set up expectations. That's probably good advice.
And, like Alistair Cockburn, he says: add documentation back to compensate for the osmosis of communication in small colocated team rooms.
Also, very telling, about distributed teams: beware that discipline and culture do not port well over time zones (zones are more important than distance: after all, Miami and Montreal are in the same time zone), and across national cultures (where yes may mean no, etc)
So, a lot of advice tid-bits in the presentation; worth a read
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