AoAD2 Practice: Team Room

This is an excerpt from The Art of Agile Development, Second Edition. Visit the Second Edition home page for additional excerpts and more!

This excerpt is copyright 2007, 2021 by James Shore and Shane Warden. Although you are welcome to share this link, do not distribute or republish the content without James Shore’s express written permission.

Team Room

Whole Team, Coaches

We collaborate rapidly and effectively.

When people can’t communicate directly, the effectiveness of their communication decreases, as the “Key Idea: Face-to-Face Conversation” sidebar discusses. Misunderstandings occur and delays creep in. People start guessing to avoid the hassle of waiting for answers. Mistakes appear. Us-versus-them attitudes start to form.

To combat this problem, many teams attempt to reduce the need for direct communication. It’s a sensible response. If questions lead to delays and errors, reduce the need to ask questions! They spend more time up front to figure out requirements and document every need. Later, the theory goes, programmers won’t need to talk to an expert; they can just look up all the answers in the document.

It’s too easy for writing to be misunderstood.

It sounds reasonable, but it doesn’t work well in practice. It’s too hard to anticipate every question in advance, and too easy for writing to be misunderstood. It also stretches out the development process: before work can begin, people need to spend time writing, handing off, and reading documents.

Whole Team

So instead, Agile teams use a team room to communicate directly. It’s a place, either physical or virtual, where the team works and collaborates together. Rather than having someone talk to domain experts and write a document for programmers to read later, Agile teams include domain experts and other on-site customers on the team. When programmers need to understand what to do, they talk to the on-site customers directly.

Incremental Requirements

Working together in a team room has enormous benefits. In a field study of six colocated teams, [Teasley2002] found that sitting together doubled productivity and cut time to market to almost one-third of the company baseline.

Those results are worth repeating: the teams delivered software in one-third their normal time. After the pilot study, 11 more teams achieved the same result. continue reading, buy the book!

In this Section

  1. Team Room
    1. Cargo Cult: The Rest of the Story
    2. Key Idea: Face-to-Face Conversation
    3. Secrets of Collaboration
      1. Always ask, always help
      2. Drop in and drop out
      3. Create visualizations
      4. Work simultaneously
      5. Seek consent
      6. Agree to experiment
    4. Physical Team Rooms
      1. The cocktail party effect
      2. Designing your team room
      3. Multiple teams
      4. In-person equipment and supplies
      5. Sample team rooms
      6. Adopting a physical team room
    5. Virtual Team Rooms
      1. Remote equipment and tools
      2. Designing remote collaboration
      3. Junior team members
    6. Questions
    7. Prerequisites
    8. Indicators
    9. Alternatives and Experiments
    10. Further Reading

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For more excerpts from the book, see the Second Edition home page.

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