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Scrum for Distributed Teams

Ben Thoma Atlassian Team Sep 17, 2020

On September 17, 2020 Atlassian University hosted a webinar to dispel the myth that Scrum and Agile only works for colocated teams. Please use this discussion as a chance to ask more questions and continue this discussion.


Mark Cruth Atlassian Team Sep 17, 2020

Would love to help answer your questions!!!

Like Rajesh Viswanathan likes this

Thank you everyone for a great discussion. I wish we had the time to get to more of your questions and hope to answer them here.

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Ben Thoma Atlassian Team Sep 18, 2020

Thanks @Mark Cruth & @Eric Naiburg for jumping in to answer some questions. I'm going to post some questions that we saw in the Q&A but didn't get to because of time. I'll put the questions in quotes, as they are not my own, but I hope I represent them accurately.

Here's the first one:

"Do you have any advice on a new team member joining now? They are a new virtual hire so there's no work history with this person—any tips for onboarding?"

Like Rajesh Viswanathan likes this

Thanks Ben, great question. I suggest first getting started on the personal side (build a relationship).  Schedule short 1 on 1 sessions with each of the Scrum Team members to get to just talk, learn about each other and do what you would likely do if all in the same office.

In the office when someone new starts, we welcome them, maybe go to lunch as a team or coffee... No reason we cannot do the same type of things virtually.  

As a Scrum Master, maybe help facilitate a getting to know you session. There are some great examples on that you can use.

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Ben Thoma Atlassian Team Sep 18, 2020

"Can you recommend further literature about Scrum in distributed teams?"

Like Rajesh Viswanathan likes this

There are several resources available here with tips and tricks, ways to work and others. You can further refine your search as well.

Like Ben Thoma likes this
Ben Thoma Atlassian Team Sep 18, 2020

"What suggestions do you have for teams in zones where the work culture is more micromanagement, and when we introduce to agile they have a very hard time to adapt to it, and not being in the same time zone make it more difficult?"

Thanks for the sharing the links 

Ben Thoma Atlassian Team Sep 18, 2020

"How do we access the Atlassian Team Playbook?"

Kat Marketplace Partner Sep 21, 2020

It has been a couple days since this question was posted so I figured I'll add my 2 cents.


The Atlassian Team Playbook resources are available here with the 8 plays for embracing remote teamwork available here.

Like Ben Thoma likes this
Ben Thoma Atlassian Team Sep 22, 2020

Thanks for jumping in @Kat. I always appreciate your contributions!

Ben Thoma Atlassian Team Sep 18, 2020

"Does Atlassian happen to have a good tool for Retrospective Sessions? :) Or any tips for doing that remotely?"

Kat Marketplace Partner Sep 21, 2020

Check out this Trello template for sprint retrospectives created by the Trello Engineering team.

Like Ben Thoma likes this
Ben Thoma Atlassian Team Sep 18, 2020

"Just out of curiosity, how does Scrum work for start-up firms?"

Scrum is no different in start-ups than any other type of organization other than often it is easier in a start-up because you don't have to change years of culture.  Scrum is all about how people and teams work together to solve complex problems, improving communication, planning and execution.  

I have worked with several start-ups using Scrum quite successfully and by having it start early in the culture makes it much easier.

Like Rajesh Viswanathan likes this
Ben Thoma Atlassian Team Sep 18, 2020

"We were already using Scrum but were co-located and now we are 100% distributed. On concern going forward is in 12 month we could be 50 / 50 or 70 / 30. Have you ever worked in such a team? I assume the colocated part of the team needs to ensure they continue working with zoom\teams meetings, all employees need webcams and head sets… any wisdom around this?"

Yes, I have pretty much always been remote while some team members were in person.  In one case, we created a shared space area where the team could come together and be on a single TV/Camera in the office while those of us remote were all there too. It creates a nice atmosphere of being together.  

One thing to always be conscious of is treating all equally.  Not having little side chats during meetings that the rest cannot hear or the people in "the room" speaking over those in person.  

Create a team working agreement and refine it often to help get agreement from the team on how they will work together.

Schedule "get together" sessions to keep the water cooler type talk happening. Make it fun and open.  We know that those things are happening in the office, so try and facilitate them happening with everyone.

Be sure that everyone has cameras not just the remote folks for conversations and meetings.

Talk over type when needed or possible.  Often miscommunication happens when people are assuming things or misreading things and it can become a 1 way conversation when typing.  Emphasize talk over type when any question of intent comes up.

Like Rajesh Viswanathan likes this


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