We're all tied together by things we do. Projects we work on, conferences we go to as a whole team, even bugs we fix together, problems we solve together. Insights we share together.
Some people call it team spirit. Some people call it good collaboration. In any case, this is the light of live communication and talk between people. My deepest belief after all is that no matter how sophisticated telecom stuff gets our days, there's nothing more valuable - and ROI-generating as well - as the real talk.
I was perplexed the other day as I saw the phrase - "we're trying to maximize our face time with them" - this was said about some guys from an off-site location visiting the main office. My first thought was - so the rest of the time they work is their a** time? As obviously software guys spend most of their time sitting on their derrier?? Though of course it's worth a praise that after all they're still trying to maximize the face time..
As hype is the statement that with globalization you could get the best software developers out of anywhere in the world, as eternal is the truth that to produce people need to REALLY collaborate. This goes for software, for any production. So it's not about picking up people as vegetables on the market - even if it's a huge market. People are more than vegetables. They need live communication to feel alive, to collaborate and to be productive (for those who want to count figures, you can sit down now and compare the monetary value of pure programming skills - with no communication skills at all).
I'm not saying that we should all go local in our quest for best products and profits. But what I really see is that people are squeezing their way to follow some of agile communication practices using telecom. As a proof, look at hot discussions at LinkedIn agile groups, and Jean Tabaka's observations on the reasons of agile adoption failure.
Blasphemy to the religion of remote/distributed teams - but the picture is slowly starting to get clear for me: it really takes good skills to balance the equilibrium of infrastructure and management to activate collaborative agile work in remote teams. Meaning 5 here, 7 there, 6 elsewhere - as one team.
Is it possible to trust without seeing each other? I doubt there're teams who are absolutely OK with remote customers/product owners etc. I even suspect that waterfall can be the best solution for remote teams-customers that haven't developed enough trust to each other. If anyone has real-life stories to prove that I'm wrong, speak up.