MARK KILBY and JOHANNA ROTHMAN have written a book called “From Chaos To Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate To Deliver“. In this interview we dive into why they wrote this book and how distributed teams can be agile and successful.

(https://www.jrothman.com/about/)

(https://www.linkedin.com/in/mkilby/)

 

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Original transcript

Lisette:  Great. So welcome everybody to this remote interview. My name is Lisette, and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. And I am super excited today I have two of the remote greats on the line. I’ve got Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby, both of whom I’ve interviewed before Mark, I interviewed you. November of 2014. Man ages ago, episode number nine, and Johanna, your episode 87. Way back also April of 2016. So it’s been a while. And we’ve all written books since then. But you guys have just come out with from chaos to successful distributed agile teams, your latest book, and so I want to I wanted to interview you about this book. I think it’s really important. The agile community has needed a book like this for a long time. And I’ve read it and it’s excellent. So I’m already all recommended already, and we’ll recommend it a few times. But let’s start with the first question which is not about your virtual office this time. It’s about Why did you write the book? Oh, and I should say I’m going to be just asking questions into the group. I don’t know who to direct them to. So I will leave it up to, to you guys to jump on which one.

Mark Kilby:  We collaborate, yeah, yeah.

Lisette:  I figured we can handle that. Alright, so the first question is, why did you write this book?

Johanna Rothman:  So, can I start? Okay, so on agile 2017. And I was meandering to the last session on Friday morning. Mark was meandering. So we work together and I said, Mark, did you see anything interesting or new or valuable about distributed agile teams? He said, mm not really and I said, would you like to write a book with me? Okay, now you take it.

Mark Kilby:  So Johanna thinks I, and the long pause. I remember it took about half a millisecond pause to say yes let’s write the book right now because this community needs it. So that’s, that’s how we got started and Lisette you might remember that the year before at the Agile 2016 conference, we had that experimental session around distributed teams and you connected in and till our and some others from our virtual team talk community. It was messy. It was fun for some, maybe not for all but it showed many some of the challenges, but also some of the possibilities. And with all of that experience that we had, we felt it was time to write this book.

Lisette:  So the book is called from chaos to successful distributed agile teams. And you’ve made a very conscious choice to use the word distributed over remote or virtual. And I want to ask about why did you decide to decide on this particular vocabulary?

Johanna Rothman:  So it turns out that a lot of people don’t realize that they are part of a distributed team. They think that they are co-located and if you look at the Alan curve, it’s only three meters, right distance between people. So if we had said remote, they might think, oh, somebody is in, their home office versus other people in the, in the regular office. If we had said virtual, that means people might work from anywhere, but distributed. Well, we are we’re hoping that people start to realize almost every single team I need is a distributed team. They are more than thirty meters apart, at least somebody is more than thirty meters apart.

Mark Kilby:  So how likely is it if you’re on one floor of a building in your some of your colleagues are on the next floor? Are you really going to go up those stairs sometimes to collaborate, sometimes not? It’s human nature. So that’s where that Allen curve is important. If you get past that thirty meters, people tend to look for other ways to reach out, if at all, sometimes if it’s out of sight out of mind is you know, they will build saying and it’s easy to be out of mind when you can’t see each other.

Lisette:  That’s true. It’s like I’m thinking back to the days when I worked in a big office where we had different floors and at the time, so this is twenty-five years ago, I’m getting older to like be able to think about like I was like twenty-five years ago, so twenty-five years ago, you know, it’s we didn’t have all the same like you don’t instant message somebody at that point, you would actually just go to their floor call their telephone, but usually just go to their floor. But given the technology now, I would totally not do that. I would of course instant message because I’ve got work to do. And instant messaging is way faster. So the technology really plays a component, I think in the ability of clearly for the ability for people to do that. So the big question then is, can distributed teams be agile?

Johanna Rothman:  And the answer is it depends.

Mark Kilby:  Depends, yeah the classic consultants.

Lisette:  I was going to say you guys have you got this down? Okay.

Mark Kilby:   Yeah so as we as we talked about earlier in the book, we talked about the hours of overlap. And when you have individuals on the team that can achieve those hours of overlap and we find four is usually a minimum.

Johanna Rothman:  For an agile team.

Mark Kilby:  For an agile team yeah. So you can collaborate using agile practices with that overlap. You start getting beyond that, you might have to do something else. And that’s why we tackle that early on in the book what that something else might be, I’ll let Johanna talk to that.

Johanna Rothman:  So yeah, so the, what you didn’t say Lisette is the subtitle, which is collaborate to deliver, and we felt very, very strongly right. So Mark and I wrote this, this book as a distributed agile team. And we actually lived all of these principles in the book. So the first thing is the hours of overlap. If you don’t have enough of them, you cannot be really effective agile team, you might be able to do something else. And then there are seven other principles which, to be honest, apply to any agile team.

Lisette:  What is it about the four hours of overlap that is so important for agile teams in particular?

Mark Kilby:  Go ahead…

Johanna Rothman:  Go ahead.

Mark Kilby:  And then you can see where we’re both ready jumped in on that one. So the interesting thing about agile and in some of your listeners may not be familiar with this. I know you have some that are but those that aren’t, is it really emphasizes communication and collaboration. So just like we’re on audio and video with, if we can see each other’s reactions to what we’re saying we can coordinate who’s talking? We can talk about different ideas and cue those up and say, no, let’s put those off to the side. So doing all that very efficiently in a very natural way is what agile emphasizes. So having these four hours for a team to sync up each day on, where are they with the work and with the commitments they’ve made around the work, and what do they need to do about it? In some cases, it might mean, individual work, they might decide, okay, we don’t need to collaborate right now. Or we want the option to collaborate. Maybe somebody is wrestling with a problem and two people need to get together to collaborate. Or maybe somebody has a whole new approach to reach a goal. And we need to get the entire team to discuss this and say, right, do we see any problems with this approach? Or should we look at other options, so having that option of half of your workday to collaborate is, is what we find is key for agile teams.

Johanna Rothman:  And I think, in my experience, a big part of a successful agile team is that we’ll collaboration on the work now, not just on, on the features of the stories, but also on the process. So, Mark, and I certainly did some things separately, images, for example, right, we, we did not actually work on those together, we would talk about what they needed to be. And then each of us did our own thing and then brought it to the other two so that the other could see. And I learned a lot about images, layers and stuff. But in a…in an agile team, it’s almost more important for the entire team to understand what everybody else understands. So if you have experts on an agile team, you often discover that the team goes much, much more slowly than then they think that they should write that should thing. They often discover that somebody wants to go on vacation, and they can eat, they cannot even do anything over in that section of the code. And that really challenges the whole notion of how do we have throughput, a reasonable stream of throughput through this team, because we don’t want anybody to kill themselves for the sake of a team. That’s or the sake of the product. That’s not the point. We want a sustainable pace. We want everyone within some boundaries, probably to understand how everything works. But it’s really, it’s really important for the entire team to be able to work together. Enough of the day.

Lisette:  To actually collaborate together and to have that time where, if you have question yeah, to get together and just really hash something out, and yeah, I can totally see that. So what happens if you’re if you don’t have that? I mean, there’s lots of people, you know, we work in Australia and China and, you know so there’s…

Mark Kilby:  US and elsewhere.

Lisette:  Yeah.

Johanna Rothman:  Yeah. So there, there are several alternatives. One is to literally hand off the work. So in my, in my previous session with you Lisette I actually said, start the work from the east. And I remember you saying, oh, that’s an interesting thing. But if you start the work from the east, and have the work, move in handoffs that might work very well. If you are not able to start the work in the East for some reason, what would it take for you to do that? And then have handoffs. And what if you only have, what if some people can work together for these two or three hours, and some people for these two or three hours, some people for those two or three hours, well, then you might have the work move from east to west, in clusters, and then also works. And then I mean, if you if you have no hours of overlap, we actually say, don’t use an agile approach. Use everything you know, that works in an agile approach. But don’t try and force-fit a change of culture, a change of approach onto a system that does not allow it to flourish. So…

Mark Kilby:  Those crazy situations where somebody in a room in another location will be up at 3 am for the stand-up meeting, why that doesn’t make any sense.

Lisette:  Yeah, my husband would divorce me if I started doing that.

Johanna Rothman:  Yeah, exactly, and exactly. So we do talk about co-pilots and time-shifting and time swimming. I mean, there’s, there’s lots of ways to do what you can. But maybe an agile approach is not right for your team.

Lisette:  It sounds like you can take it, pick and choose from the approaches that work for your team. Just don’t call it agile. So you can still have your retrospectives, you can still have your tasks lists and your can band boards or whatever, you know, whatever approach you’re using whatever thing Yeah, just don’t call it agile, but it’s still it doesn’t prevent you from being agile. Right?

Johanna Rothman:  So in the sense of being able to respond to change, to having a more resilient and adaptive team, I think you can certainly do that. Mark has been talking about and writing a bunch of facilitation techniques and notes and this is me nudging him for the next book, yeah, yeah, I know Jim in public. He’s, he’s in a divorce this work-life he is going to do it in a regular way.

Mark Kilby:  So subtle.

Johanna Rothman:  Yeah it is settled not me at all. Not me. But it’s possible to do it in the book we actually talked about how much of the retrospective do you need to be synchronous? How much could you do in preparation as an asynchronous approach? And how much might you have to do afterward, after the synchronous part, and an asynchronous approach again, so for teams with no overlap, if you have me, one of the teams I coached a while ago, had a guy in China and a guy in Vietnam and all of these guys are generic by the way, some of them were women, a guy in France and a guy in England and the guy on the east coast of the US and the guy on the west coast. They had no, I mean, it was they could not collaborate. So that’s what and I didn’t know enough about what Mark was doing back then. But I knew enough to say, how much of the retro can you do in an asynchronous way? And how often can you meet as a team to sync up as a team? Maybe once a quarter? Right? How will the company spend the money so that you can actually succeed over a longer period of time?

Lisette:  Who was this book written for? In particular, what was your target audience with this?

Mark Kilby:  So there were a few different audiences. So certainly for the teams and those who lead those types of distributed teams, but it could be a distributed team that might have been struggling and looking at agile as a way to improve how they work together. Or it could be a brand new team where the team members had done as before. But now they’re just now they’re coming together as a distributed team. And they’re trying to see how can we, how can we take the Agile approaches we were successful with as a co-located team. And now that we’re distributed, how do we make that work? So we definitely had those two audiences in mind. And then a third is equally important. What about the executives and senior leaders who helped support all of this? What do they need to put in place? So that’s where that last chapter comes in.

Lisette:  Okay, so I definitely want to talk to that. But on my notes, one of the things that I’ve written down is I wanted to talk about working agreements. So what I’d like you to state what you have in the book, but then also I understand that writing the book together, you also set up your own set of working agreements, which makes sense right? Because you need to have a level of understanding. So let’s dive into and I think that they’re, as you know, I think they’re extremely important. I think it’s a must-have for any distributed team I think it’s a must-have for any team but especially a distributed team.

Mark Kilby:   Absolutely.

Lisette:  So what do you just tell our audience a little bit about what you discuss a bit in the book about working agreements for distributed agile teams and I’d love to hear about what you guys had in place for yourselves.

Mark Kilby:  So as you said, for any team, you need to explore not only skills but work preferences and I think you even cover some of this in in your classes and what you cover Lisette.

Lisette:  Yeah, for sure.

Mark Kilby:  And so we there’s many different approaches to this in the book we give one example called the compass exercise. And the idea is, you pick a compass direction for where you tend to operate most of the time individually, so if you’re in the north, do you tend to jump action. If you’re in the south, do you tend to get everybody’s input before you want the group to move on? If you’re in the East, you like to know what the big picture is. What’s the why, where, you know, why is this team together? Why are they doing this? Or if you’re in the West, you need all the details, you want to make sure you cover all the details and what are those? And so if you know which of those personalities you have, and it’s a very simple tool, it’s not anything like Myers Briggs, but if you run a team through this discovery exercise, they can very quickly realize what they do, how they work well, and maybe not so well with these other types that they might encounter on the team and then have a conversation about Okay, what do we need is working agreements. So if I’m somebody who wants to jump into action, and everybody else is holding me back, what do we want to do about the situations when am I allowed as, as a team member to jump forward on something and when do I need to think about holding back? So what’s critical in our work? What’s, what’s critical to whoever the stakeholders are around that. So more practically, when Johanna and I got together, we already knew something about each other. So as you can tell, Johanna is very reserved, a lot.

Lisette:  Like I really have to coax it out of her.

Mark Kilby:  I know, I know.

Johanna Rothman:  Yeah you never know what I mean, never, never [Crosstalk].

Mark Kilby:  We didn’t actually do the compass exercise, but we’re pretty sure Johanna is in the north. So she likes to know, I know. She’ll be the first one on the keyboard. And I’m the one that will tend to kind of hang back in, look at okay for the, for the audiences were writing to, maybe we should unpack what you just wrote. And so we would start developing little signals on I think we need to unpack that particular thing. So you saw you not everyone has the video. So putting my fingers to my chin, she quickly realized that visual signal of oh, he’s thinking about something, I should stop and find out what’s going on. And so even though I’m, I tend to be more introverted, and hold back and wait and kind of process the information, there will be times where she would really she would pick up on that. And we would go back and say, Okay, here, let’s go through that. So we learned to kind of go back and forth in our writing. So every line in the book while we did images separately, every word in the book was written together.

Lisette:  Wow.

Mark Kilby:  In time. Yeah. So we did not write separate sections. We wrote every line together. Sometimes it was Johanna jumping in first, I would say many times it was but there were other times where I would jump in and say hey, I’ve got an idea here. So you could probably gather from the working agreements section that’s probably some areas where I jumped in first. But we would one of us would drive the so we one of us would type the words the other word kind of come back behind and sweep up in a way. So correcting minor spelling errors, things like that, but also kind of making notes of, we might need to come back and unpack this or this. This one seems like this sentence seems like it might be a paragraph, maybe two, let’s maybe come back in. And so we would, we would often go yeah, so although towards the end, she was unpacking more of my sentences.

Johanna Rothman:  Yeah. Yeah.

Lisette:  Yes, I did some role switching in the middle there.

Mark Kilby:  We did, we did. So but we, we also had other working agreements where, at the beginning of each session, it would sometimes it’d be thirty minutes, sometimes it’d be sixty minutes during a weekday, that and that’s all we would spend each day for writing, but it’s very beginning we check-in how’s your day? What, you know what’s, you know, how, what do you feel like working on because sometimes, if we were struggling with one piece of the book was that, you know, let’s move over here and come back to this when we’ve got a fresh start, Johanna, I don’t know what you might want to add to all of that.

Johanna Rothman:  So I think that the interesting thing about our sustainable pace is that we also recognized when we were fresher, and when we were not so fresh. So there, there were times when we could only meet in the afternoon, and I would start to yawn. And Mark would say, maybe you needed a nap because it was often the days that I had physical therapy or I worked out really hard at the gym more often Tuesdays. So if we only got together on at 3 o’clock on Wednesdays, he could see that I had worked out really hard and we also had a couple of working agreements about how to treat family members. So I have a sailor’s mouth. I learned how to swear when I learned how to sail. And I am. I continue to practice it. Marks wife does not always like that. So I tried to reserve my swearing for Friday afternoon. And I don’t always succeed. I we before we got on and restarted to record, I actually said a bad word.

Lisette:  You’re welcome to do it on the podcast. By the way, it’s a…

Johanna Rothman:   It’s not. I, I actually have rules about what I would want when I wear a microphone. So I my rule for wearing a microphone is do not swear in front of an audience. Mark is a colleague and a friend, not an audience. So but that was that was the way we managed some of our interpersonal skills.

Lisette:  That is really important. I think people don’t think about that often when you’re working remotely. You have, of course, your family that’s coming in or people interrupting; the cat walks across the keyboard; like these random things happen. And then, indeed, some people are very sensitive to language. Some people are yeah, so and then you want to be respectful of everybody’s needs, and then what they need. So yeah, it’s good to just work that out. Did you are working agreements, did you actually sit down in the beginning or I’m assuming they evolved over time?

Mark Kilby:  They mostly evolved over there was a few weeks we came up with early on, but they mostly evolved in time. Yeah.

Lisette:  And did you record them anywhere?

Mark Kilby:  No, not until we wrote about it. Almost a year after we started so we had to. So we submitted a paper to last year’s agile conference. And we say, okay, when did we come up with this? And so we actually had to go back and think about when we came up with one, one of the ones that we came up early on, and it wasn’t really a discussion, it was sort of an evolution was keeping it fun. So it would not be unusual for one of us to make a snarky remark while writing something, or the other one was writing. Just to see if we could get the other one to crack up. So just by keeping it fun, I think we really enjoyed coming together for each writing session because of that.

Johanna Rothman:  Well, and I think that the only other real agreement we had at the beginning was that we would try and write every day. Yeah, not for more than thirty or sixty minutes. But to keep the momentum up. When you’ve written a book. You know what this is like that if you if you don’t continue to write on a regular basis. The book just kind of sits there and nothing happens. And I, you know, life is short. I have too many other books in the queue. Get this one done. Go on to the next book. I know Mark is laughing.

Mark Kilby:  Which is what I was hearing for the last two months. It’s like I’ve got two books. I got to finish this one.

Johanna Rothman:  Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Lisette:  I’m laughing because I finished the book and I thought never again, hashtag ever again. You’re like, let’s do the next one and I was like oh my God no.

Johanna Rothman:  Every, everyone is different. And you might, it might totally not. You might not need another book for your career. But I have so much to say.

Lisette:  Yeah, and you have a lot of experiencing with a lot of experience in consulting and managing different agile teams. So yeah, I don’t mean and you’re a natural writer. So it only makes sense. I mean, I discovered I’m not a natural writer doesn’t get me and I can write things but you know, some people really enjoy it. I had this romantic vision of cappuccinos and for us log cabin. And it was not, it was not like that.

Johanna Rothman:  So my first couple of books were not, I am not a natural writer, I am a natural talker. I have learned how to write.

Johanna Rothman:  So we’re getting to the end of the time. We’re already at the end of the time, really, but I saw some questions. So I want to ask about the title in particular. So from chaos to successful distributed agile teams, why from chaos?

Mark Kilby:  Because everyone is familiar with the chaos part. So we wanted to recognize many people struggle in these distributed remote environments. And we want to show that there is a way to step from that to a collaborative and even fun team environment that was what we wanted to really achieve in the book.

Lisette:  Okay, then in the Agile community mean there is really a big discussion still, still I don’t know if it will ever end of whether teams can be distributed, as well as being agile. And we discussed this, of course in the very beginning, which is, it depends. It depends on the team. But let me just actually Ill reframe it is this if you were to give advice for people who are just starting out, what would you, what would you give them? And maybe I’ll ask this way, this time, I’ll direct it. I’ll direct it to Johanna first.

Johanna Rothman:  So there’s a couple of things if you can, I would love it if people got together for two weeks, one week to understand how to work together as a team. So they would swarm they would mob, they would, they would collaborate in some kind of a way, at minimum caring, but they would actually work together for an entire week, and then do a little retrospective and say how can we apply what we learned to work in the same place, but with our distributed technology for the second week, and then you could do an experiment every single day, do a little retro. Maybe at noontime, maybe at the end of the day, right a couple of times a day and say, what do we need to do? If we are, if we are no longer with each other? How does our work need to change? Way too many managers think that that’s a very expensive time, it costs a lot of money to put people up for two weeks. There’s airfare, and that’s true. And if you can reduce your cycle time, from two weeks per story to a day per story, you will gain back that time within the first month of your team working right so that you no longer have these long projects that take forever that nobody can stand anymore. And then at the end of it, somebody takes the ball and says, I’m just doing this because I can’t stand it and then nobody else knows what’s going on. That’s a disaster. So get people together for a minimum of a week, probably two is better. And then when they go back to their, to their home offices, wherever that is, as long as they have acceptable hours of overlap, they can succeed. They have the tools necessary to know how to work with each other. They understand how to reflect on how to improve, they understand what to ask from their managers, they understand their tools. It’s a very small time and money investment, for the benefit that you get at the end of it.

Lisette:  Love it.

Mark Kilby:  So and another important element is it needs to be a choice. So anybody who is in a distributed work environment, hopefully, they’re there by choice. But certainly, we’ve encountered people who’ve been told you need to work this way you need to work with these people thirteen time zones away. When I interview developers, managers, it’s all about you, you’re coming on board in this environment, it’s your choice. And I think so this is where I’m going to plug your book was that because I think you do a wonderful job of having the individual contributor and the manager think about what is that choice for me what is how is that going to change things for me and that’s, that’s what I really like about your book is you get people thinking about those possibilities and where they might struggle and where they might actually find some new ways to succeed and actually enjoy working remote.

Johanna Rothman:  What has been, I don’t know, have you heard from any naysayers in the agile community? Some people that are totally anti distributed teams at all? Have you heard from any of those folks since your book was published?

Johanna Rothman:  I’ve gotten a few comments. And I’ve said, have you actually read the book? And they said, no, but it can’t work. So you know me right. Dear listeners, yeah, I’m, I’m not very good at filtering words in my brain from coming out of my mouth. So I said, you know, people used to say that about agile too couldn’t work. So you might want to read the book.

Lisette:  Well, my question back to people like that is well, what if I have to like, Okay, if I didn’t, like right, I didn’t have the choice. Yeah, maybe I’d like to be in the same room with my team for a while but okay, I can’t. I got a teammate in China. So now what do I do, I probably have gotten a whole bunch of people going, thank you so much. Thank you so much for writing this book. We really needed this advice.

Mark Kilby:  We’ve gotten more of those responses to the negative.

Lisette:  Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think people are realizing the reality of today. And that is we are a global society today. And that the, you know, maybe it’s not efficient or productive at all times to be working globally, but we do and we do sort of need to accept and, and plan for that, I would think,

Mark Kilby:  And figure out how to make it better.

Johanna Rothman:  Yeah, it creates a much more resilient workforce, and work. So Mark, and I tell the stories in the book about how we work through hurricanes in Florida, and my travel to Europe and the West Coast and, and all and we continue to make progress on the book. Right? That’s what people don’t understand. That we, if we, if I had to go to Florida to work with Mark because he actually has kids at home, I only have a husband. So if I had had to go to Florida, we would have worked for a week or two at a time. Well, we actually benefited from having small chunks of time that we work together every day. And then having thinking time when we were not working, and it worked out better. And the fact that I don’t have to commute anywhere in Boston traffic, this is an excellent thing. And you don’t have to commute Mark in Orlando traffic, which I think might be just as bad.

Mark Kilby:  Yeah.

Johanna Rothman:  Yeah. So I think that distributed, distributed teams offer more options to the general workforce than we normally think. And only if we do them, right. You have everyone has to have access to All the tools and technology, everyone has to be an equal partner on the team. I mean, we talk about all that. But it’s really important to say, this is a reality. How can we make it work better?

Lisette:  Right, given all the choices that we have these days, too, because again, technology is no longer in the way it’s usually bandwidth. You know, it’s an internet connection somewhere. But the tools certainly exist to make it fairly seamless. And they get better every day. It is very exciting. Yeah, Mark, you and I were laughing before we started, because the interview that we did back in 2014, the quality is so much worse. We’re using Google Hangouts. And yeah, it said feels like forever ago, and it’s only five years ago, you know, and the technology was pretty good five years ago. So yeah, it’s excellent. Now, things are definitely improving.

Mark Kilby:  Yeah, definitely.

Lisette:  Okay. We’re reaching the top of the hour. Is there anything that you would like to put forward from the book that I didn’t cover? I mean, one of the world and so I’ll put that out there to think about for a second like any topic that we should talk, but one of the quotes that I really liked. And it’s a very basic one and sort of the gist of the book, but what I really liked was he said, agile approaches can help distributed team members respond to change. And I think, for any company out there, that is the name of the game, its innovation, its change. It’s a vocal world, and then how do our teams respond to that? And I mean, I’m working with companies right now we’re just setting up a training can take six months to set up a training and I just keep thinking, my God, what kind of work are you guys producing over there that to schedule a training cost six months’ worth of time? So yeah, things you know, that seems like a little bit ridiculous. So I really liked that agile approaches can help distributed team members respond to change. And I think that’s really, at the crux of things, is using these approaches in order to respond to change. That’s what companies need to do. So with that, though, is there any chapter in the book or any section out of every chapter that looks like there’s a little seven chapters in the book and some appendixes with toolsets and your compass activities, really, it’s really a rich book in terms of content information, but anything you’d like to highlight before we sign off, Mark.

Mark Kilby:  So I think what I would, I would highlight is, is really, in the introduction. So we talked about the mind shifts that people need to make, just like when people went from traditional software approaches to agile, we had to start thinking in different ways. It’s the same thing when you’re shifting from an office to an online setting or a distributed setting. So you have to think about how do I stay in communication with my distributed team? How do I connect with them? How do I set up a way to experiment with my environment because as you said, change is constant, including the tools we use to connect because we’re using different tools almost every year in this space? So how can we set up an environment where the team and the whole organization is ready to experiment with that? So just going, being prepared with those different mindsets as we go forward. And also to focus more on principles and practices, that’s where people get tangled up, is they try to take practices that work well in the office and try to do them exactly online. And that’s when you get people being up at 3 am and their local time doing stand-ups and crazy things like that. You have to rethink what was the purpose of that practice. What was it we were trying to achieve? So that those are the key things we have to go back and rethink. We can still meet those principles, but we need some different practices to do it. And that’s hopefully what the book achieves with everyone is getting to think about how do we adapt what we already know.

Lisette:  I think that is awesome, advice principles over practices. Yeah. So what taking a step back, if I’m understanding correctly, taking a step back and asking, why are we doing this? What is the purpose of this? Like, does this person need to really wake up at three in the morning for a stand-up? Could we be exchanging information in a different way? Or, they could actually get a full night rest,

Mark Kilby:  Right and be fresh for their knowledge work.

Lisette:  Right? Right. Brain capacity is super important. Johanna highlights for you from the book.

Johanna Rothman:  So one of the things I mean, aside from the emphasis on flow efficiency, all through the book, but especially in the leadership chapter, the idea of constantly seeing yourself in these traps. We have traps in almost every chapter and that’s because people find themselves in this situation. And if you see yourself in these traps, we have options for you to consider so you can work yourself out of the traps.

Lisette:  Wow. So if you haven’t bought the book already everybody so I should ask where can people find the book?

Johanna Rothman:  Everywhere fine books are sold.

Lisette:  Awesome.

Johanna Rothman:  Yes if you and if you want to get it from your library it should be available for your library in both e-book and print. It is literally everywhere.

Lisette:  Wow impressive when I have to ask you guys how you did that so okay, so if unless you’re living under a rock somewhere in a cave, you should be able to easily Google and find this book anywhere there is an internet connection or your library and probably bookstores to depending on where you are. Alright. So see, I usually the last question I usually ask is advice for people who are just starting out. So instead of just advice for people, I’d like to really focus this your book is very focused on leadership and leading distributed agile teams. So advice for leaders who are out there, and then we’ll, I promise we will end. I just it’s like, it’s hard to get two masters on the line and want to end the conversation. Right. So.

Mark Kilby:  So, So I’ll start. So I think the most important message to the leaders is, be prepared to experiment yourself. So don’t try to take your same leadership approaches into the distributed world. Instead, be ready to try some new ways of leading.

Johanna Rothman:  And for me, it’s really how you do model the eight principles that we have in this book? And, and that notice, I mean, I’ve been focusing on collaboration, but default a collaborative work. How do you as a leader, help the team or the organization create a collaborative work environment. That’s if you can do that you are well on your way.

Lisette:  That is easy to say yeah, easy to say and very difficult to do. And when you guys are talking about this, one of the advice that I give that to seems to fit into what you guys are saying, as I always tell people, get in the mud with your team, experience, what they’re going through, sit in on the online meetings, and then take those impediments out of the way, like, feel the pain with the team, get up at 3am yourself and see what you’re like in the stands that way.

Johanna Rothman:  Yeah, exactly.

Lisette:  Yeah. So thank you both so much today for taking the time to talk about this. For those who are listening. The book is called from chaos to successful distributed agile teams. I’ve got Mark Kilby and Johanna Rothman here on the line. Thank you both for sharing your knowledge. I hope your book is a huge success.

Mark Kilby:  Thanks for having us.

Johanna Rothman:  Thank you.

Lisette:  All right, everybody. Until next time, be powerful

 

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