While Tony (our artist) and I realize the next few weeks may be “downtime” for a lot of teams — including Scrum Teams — we have decided to keep publishing a new weekly comic strip (for those of you reading this in January after your “break” — welcome back!).
This new comic strip addresses a common theme I hear about both Scrum and other Agile processes (shall I say finally XP or Agile Modeling, possible agile engineering practices) — Collocation.
Collocation is spelled with two “l”‘s.� At least my spell checker says so LOL (laughing out loud).
I work with many “offshore” agile teams (is this an agile misnomer?).
One of the comments I have started hearing over the years of working with international teams is the term “Agile” being pronounced “A Jail” instead of “Agile.”
This pronunciation is being used on purpose by some members of Scrum Teams. Wow. Shock and amazement hit me.
I asked one of my teams why this is the perception….
They stated that “agile” — or Scrum — requires people to be collocated as a team.� Working together. Sometimes it seems like “A Jail”.
Ummm… my response is, “Yes.� It does require collocation. If it feels like a jail, something else is wrong.”
Scrum requires collocation.� All for one and one for all.
If you are taking a waiver from that stance, you are making an exception to Scrum and Agile in general.
Is this OK?� Well, there is not a Scrum Police Agency that will come out of the clouds and strike you with a bolt of lightening.� That is the good news.
For the bad news.
If you are doing off-shore work, you are making an exception using time-zones as an excuse.
Hmmm… Can a 10.5 – 11 hour time difference make a huge difference in the overall output of a team?� Of course it can.� And it does.� There. I said it. Again, realize the obvious!
Off-shoring (or Outsourcing) is not the end-all-be-all-answer to cutting costs (hmm… neither is Scrum — see the article about “Scrum is NOT a Silver Bullet“).� Large enterprises will realize this one day. And I will cover this more in the future. They can be on opposite ends of the spectrum for goals and objectives within a company. This can confuse teams. And does.
This is reality today in a large number of organizations (if this is not happening in your organization, consider yourself one of the few and proud!).
Until they figure out which way they want to go (off-shore or agile), the off-shore (or, shall I say “OutSourced”) teams will need to figure out how to work with teams in an agile environment.
Is this hard.� Or tough?
Not. I work with agile teams who utilize off-shore components with a lot of success (again, I also see teams royally screw up on this component of Scrum).
Do not use the time difference (even if you are in the same time zone) as an excuse for not collocating.
Sure, it takes work.
Just like working with any team members on a Scrum team.� Be wary and understanding of their personal situations.� If someone needs to leave at 4:00 to pick up their kid at day care, work with it.� If that means someone “offshore” needing to “leave” at midnight their time — be understanding of that. Don’t make your priorities the same for someone else — they are all personal decisions.
The world does not revolve around your time zone. Or you. You are not two years old anymore and it is time to learn that is reality.
Welcome to 2006… almost 2007.
The other totally wimpy excuses I hear about collocation — outside of off-shoring — include:
” Well Mike. Really. Collocation is REALLY not needed in Scrum. That is optional.”
OK… so do not do Scrum. You need to collocate. Really. Ug…. just recently I heard one guy tell me I talked about too many reasons NOT to do Scrum… sounds like a good conference topic for me in the future!
“Well Mike. Really. We have two teams spread across multiple buildings (sometimes on the same darn campus). We could not possibly work in one room together.”
OK… so do not do Scrum. You need to collocate. Really.
There are a myriad of excuses for people to NOT collocate as a team and work together. From time-zone differences (which we can do nothing about) to what I would consider corporate laziness at the other spectrum. If I could control time, trust me, I would not be doing this Scrum stuff for a living (smile). And I know I cannot change corporate cultures… only keep pointing out to them the inefficiencies they are hitting by being — and staying — lazy. Laziness is a poor excuse. Easy. But poor.
So, is “Agile” or “Scrum” really “A Jail.”
Only if you let it be.
Really.� Think about it.
And then do something about it.
December 18, 2006