Wide Links #10: Left coast edition

Wide Links #10: Left coast edition

Oct 8, 10 • In Links

I’m in LA this week, meeting up with one of my dispersed software teams in person for the first time. As a result I don’t have a lot of time to write, but here’s a fresh hot selection of links from the world of distributed teams. Enjoy!

  • A wonderfully detailed set of notes on one possible remote pair-programming solution.

    tags: wideteams development vim tmux

            1. Collaborative Editing: the fundament of pairing, both people need to be able to type into the same editor.
            2. Access to the Local Server: it’s pretty hard to develop an app you can’t see.
            3. Ease of Communication: we need to be able to hear each other, preferably seeing each other as well (there’s a lot of nonverbal communication when pairing).
            4. Light Weight: the internet connections would be of variable quality, so we required something that wouldn’t tax small pipes.

        Our requirements were:


      • As a side-note, we did use Skype to video chat as our primary means of communication. Jim claims that the best part of it was that I Skyped from my machine (a 13” MBP, with my iPhone headset) and hosted the tmux session on the iMac right beside it. This had the unintended side effect of me not “staring at him” all day long while I coded. It’s the little things that make all the difference 🙂


  • The Virtual Team Player discusses some of the tools she used to collaborate with a 200 member dispersed team.

    tags: wideteams

      • Networking is extremely important when working in a distributed team.


  • Some notes and advice from one developer’s experiences.

    tags: wideteams

      • It can also be difficult when there are technical discussions going on in the meeting where people are chipping in as they feel fit, the team on the other end of the phone can sometimes be forgotten and they will sit there waiting for a chance to speak. Issues of talking too far from the microphone can cause for discussions to be repeated for the sake of the remote team.


  • Some tips from an internationally dispersed team.

    tags: wideteams

      • But while having your staff working from any location is all well and good, how can you make sure that everyone not only remains productive, but feels like part of one organization and one team?


  • Cross-cultural collaboration introduces new challenges, but also new strengths into a dispersed team.

    tags: wideteams

      • At the beginning ofthe meeting, summarize what are the countries, languages and time zones are represented. Ask people to clear their desktop any further work during the call to allow the full and active participation by all. Remind people to speak clearly and avoid interruptions. If you use a web tool to meet, review the functions that will be used as a show of hands or sharing your desktop. Make sure everyone knows how to mute the phone, and remind everyone to say the names before speaking.


      • Involve all participants in the same way. Many people can communicate more easily with others to speak and write. Whenever possible, participants have the opportunity to communicate in ways that feel more comfortable and skilled. Over the phone, make use of web meeting technology that allows people to post questions or provide answers in writing. People in some cultures may be reluctant to discuss sensitiveor controversial issues out loud, especially when the hierarchy is important. In this case, you should use a web tool that allows the meeting of anonymity. Some, if because of culture and personality, may be reticent to speak. Make sure you go around the virtual table and encourage the contribution of each team member. Be thoughtful about how best to ask a question that makes it safe for everyone to respond. Examples: What do you see as the biggest advantage / disadvantage of this solution? If you could changeone thing about our proposal, what would it be?


      • If you have trouble following accent of someone, let them know you are having difficulty hearing him (rather than complaining that you can not understand his accent), and ask him if he can repeat his point a bit ‘more slowly. If you still can not understand the point ofis trying to do, you might try to follow up with him in private offline.


      • Use analogies to the shared understanding. If you suspect that the information you want to convey can be too complex, you should use an analogy that everyone can understand regardless of culture or language. For example, when describing the actions to be completed before the termination of a project is particularly complex, rich used the analogy of a port for cargo ships to leave, with all the many tasks that must beorchestrated in a certain sequence before the ship can push. People were able to immediately connect with this shared image, making it easier for them to agree on the activities, milestones and dependencies.


  • Millions of workers are commuting to jobs they could just as well do at home.

    tags: wideteams

      • Not only do home workers reduce the need for expensive premises, they are often vastly more productive. Some American studies have shown a 30- to 40-per-cent increase in productivity when people work from home.


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