Achieving Success with Distributed Teams

On February 28, Josh Woodcock gave a presentation on his experience working with a fully distributed team and shared ideas on how agile can be successful in such situations. Even though Josh’s team is spread across the US, they have been able to create a virtual team room and share information by using video and online tools. Team members use webcams throughout the day, making them feel more connected to one another and promoting the type of osmotic communications found in physical team rooms. Team members also pair program by sharing screens.  By asking the question, “how would you handle X if the team was co-located?” Josh’s team has been able to find and use online tools to replicate as much of the co-located team experience as possible.  For many distributed teams that are struggling, using tools to ends up feeling like this:

That’s not how we’d want co-located teams to be, so why settle for that experience when we’re distributed?  Consider how something would work well for a co-located team and find the tools that work to support your team’s communication throughout the work day (suggestion: use video as much as possible and limit emails—rely on richer, synchronous communication when you can).

In Josh’s experience, finding the right tools to support his team has resulted in high-quality and frequent delivery of working software that delights their customers. For more information about the presentation, including a list of recommended tools, view Josh’s slides at

Since this topic had such a high interest from our members, we continued our discussion in March with an open space format.  We started off by sharing ideas and questions that we had and then formed smaller groups based on the following subtopics:

  •       How to effectively run the scrum ceremonies and communicate between ceremonies
  •       How to divide work
  •       How to handle cultural differences with the team
  •       How can the team support the Scrum Master and Product Owner

The discussions were lively, and each group reported out its findings.


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