As much as all Agilists want fully co-located teams, achieving co-location is a challenge for large organizations. especially for organizations that are undergoing transformation. Transformation is typically a 12-18 month journey. During this time, how would the teams deal with distributed teams?
Here’s a game that I came up with, so that teams get a feel of how it feels to work in a distributed environment, what are the challenges that the teams typically face and how can the teams overcome them.
The most common scenario in the context of the IT industry in India is that the Development team is located in India, as offshore development center, and most often, Product Management, and specifically the Product owner works out of an office outside India, and, closer to the client.
Here is the how the game is designed.
The team that is playing this game identifies a temporary product owner(for the game, only) PO is shown a random picture. PO then needs to describe the picture to the team, and the team will have to sketch the picture. In the entire process, the team and the PO stand with their backs to each other.
In another case, I tried this game with “Knotting a Tie” as well. The PO was shown a particular way of knotting a tie and asked to explain to the team, with his back to the team. The team will have to understand the knot and produce as many knotted ties as possible, knotted exactly the way it was explained/shown to the PO.
At one point, the situation becomes very tense and un-restful, especially, when the teams and the PO don’t talk the same language. It is then, that teams learn. Teams learn how to behave, how to talk(from each other’s perspective), how to manage work within the boundaries of restrictions, and learn to innovate.
I hope you are able to try this out in your teams and derive some value out of this
Feel free to share your thoughts