From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams
From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams
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From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams

This book is 95% complete

Last updated on 2018-10-17

About the Book

Many people don’t believe that virtual teams, with distributed and dispersed members, can use agile approaches. However, most teams, even agile teams, have at least one remote team members.  Are we ready to say, “You can’t use agile approaches?” No.

As employees and consultants, we have a combined history of 55 years working with virtual teams. These teams use agile and lean principles and modify the practices to create success across distance and time zones.

About the Authors

Johanna Rothman
Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” provides frank advice for your tough problems. She helps leaders and teams see problems and resolve risks and manage their product development.

Johanna has been managing projects and programs since the Neanderthal era. She is the current technical editor. She is the author of these books:

In addition, she is a contributor to:

Johanna writes the Pragmatic Manager, a monthly email newsletter. She writes two blogs on her site,, as well as a blog on She is a columnist about management for and is a columnist about agile project management for

Mark Kilby
Mark Kilby

Mark Kilby is an Agile coach who, for over two decades, has cultivated more distributed, dispersed, and virtual teams than colocated teams. Currently, Mark serves as an Agile coach with Sonatype, a distributed Agile software development company focusing on automation of software supply chains. Previously, Mark led Agile transformations, from startups to Fortune 500 companies. In his spare time, Mark also cultivates communities, such as Agile Orlando, Agile Florida,, and the Agile Alliance Community Group Support initiative. You can find out more, read my blog, or sign up for my newsletter at


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  • English

  • PDF

  • EPUB

  • MOBI

  • APP

Minimum price
Suggested price

Table of Contents

  • About this Beta Version
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. See the Future of Distributed Agile Teams
    • 1.1 Drowning in the Wave of the Future
    • 1.2 Define Your Why for a Distributed Approach
    • 1.3 Agile Approaches Focus Distributed Teams
    • 1.4 Create a Culture of Experimentation
    • 1.5 Shift to a Mindset of Collaboration
    • 1.6 Consider Principles over Practices
    • 1.7 Establish Acceptable Hours of Overlap
    • 1.8 Create Transparency at All Levels
    • 1.9 Cultivate Continuous Improvement With Experiments
    • 1.10 Practice Pervasive Communication at All Levels
    • 1.11 Organizational Traps of Distributed Agile Teams
    • 1.12 Now Try This
  • 2. Focus on Principles For Your Distributed Agile Teams
    • 2.1 Learn These Principles
    • 2.2 Assume Good Intention
    • 2.3 Create a Project Rhythm
    • 2.4 Create Resilience with a Holistic Culture
    • 2.5 Default to Collaborative Work, Not Solo Work
    • 2.6 Is a Distributed Agile Approach Right for You?
    • 2.7 Review the Agile and Lean Principles
    • 2.8 Traps that Challenge Support for Distributed Agile Teams
    • 2.9 Now Try This
  • 3. Avoid Chaos with Insufficient Hours of Overlap
    • 3.1 Defining Working Across the Globe
    • 3.2 Think in Flow Efficiency
    • 3.3 Map the Value Stream to Visualize Cycle Time
    • 3.4 See the Effects of Hours of Overlap on Cycle Time
    • 3.5 Manage and Survive Your Team’s Time Offsets
    • 3.6 Learn How to Work Together in One Location
    • 3.7 Time Shifts Can Help With No Hours of Overlap
    • 3.8 Consider Handoffs
    • 3.9 Insufficient Hours of Overlap Traps
    • 3.10 Now Try This
  • 4. Identify Your Distributed Agile Team Type
    • 4.1 Understand Agile Teams
    • 4.2 Consider Your Team Size
    • 4.3 Define Your Team Type
    • 4.4 Understand Boundaries of Collocation
    • 4.5 Observe Affiliation Patterns of Distributed Agile Teams
    • 4.6 Visualize Your Distributed or Dispersed Team
    • 4.7 Programs Might Use Several Team Types
    • 4.8 Use an Ambassador
    • 4.9 Identify Your Team’s Focus
    • 4.10 Non-Collocated Teams Deserve Face-to-Face Time
    • 4.11 Make the Case for Distributed and Dispersed Teams
    • 4.12 Now Try This
  • 5. Communicate to Collaborate
    • 5.1 Use the Appropriate Communication Channels
    • 5.2 See Your Team’s Communication Options
    • 5.3 Enhance Discussions with Public Backchannels
    • 5.4 Language Matters
    • 5.5 See Your Team’s Communication Traps
    • 5.6 Now Try This
  • 6. Create Your Collaborative Team Workspace
    • 6.1 Select Iterations or Flow
    • 6.2 Help Your Team Visualize Their Work with a Board
    • 6.3 Help Your Team Create a Board That Fits Their Needs
    • 6.4 Distributed Teams Create Their Own Context
    • 6.5 Consider Your Team’s Tools Needs
    • 6.6 Create Psychological Safety in Your Team
    • 6.7 People Require Safety to Collaborate
    • 6.8 Now Try This
  • 7. Cultivate Your Distributed Team’s Agile Culture
    • 7.1 Understand Organizational Culture
    • 7.2 How Agile Approaches Change a Team’s Culture
    • 7.3 Survive a Top-Down Mandate to a Specific Agile Approach
    • 7.4 Choosing an Agile Culture With Your Existing Team
    • 7.5 Build and Maintain a Distributed Agile Culture
    • 7.6 Understand Your Team’s Decision Boundaries
    • 7.7 Help Your Agile Team Discover What Makes It Successful
    • 7.8 Consider a Copilot or Proxy Facilitator
    • 7.9 See Your Team’s Agile Culture Traps
    • 7.10 Now Try This
  • 8. Build Respect With Working Agreements
    • 8.1 Lack of Empathy Can Prevent a Team from Norming
    • 8.2 Distributed Team Members Require Empathy
    • 8.3 Asking for Help Can Build Respect
    • 8.4 Facilitate Decisions About Respectful Teamwork
    • 8.5 Identify the Team’s Values
    • 8.6 Create Working Agreements
    • 8.7 Blend Personal and Team Working Agreements
    • 8.8 Define the Project Charter
    • 8.9 Consider These Tactics to Build Teamwork
    • 8.10 Build Respect Across the Organization
    • 8.11 We Work With Humans
    • 8.12 Encourage Team Affiliation
    • 8.13 Build Respect Traps
    • 8.14 Now Try This
  • 9. Adapt Practices for Distributed Agile Teams
    • 9.1 Identify the Principles Behind Your Potential Agile Practices
    • 9.2 Reflect Often as a Team
    • 9.3 Create the Team’s Rhythm
    • 9.4 Consider Which Meetings You Need and When
    • 9.5 Plan as a Team
    • 9.6 Review the Work Progress
    • 9.7 Collaborate on the Work to Move it to Done
    • 9.8 Decide When to Check In with the Rest of the Team
    • 9.9 Workshop Stories as a Team
    • 9.10 Review the Work Completed
    • 9.11 Inform People Outside the Team About the Work Progress
    • 9.12 Product Planning Might Change Depending on Your Distribution
    • 9.13 See Your Agile Practice Traps
    • 9.14 Now Try This
  • 10. Integrate New People Into Your Distributed Agile Team
    • 10.1 Disrupt or Reinforce Your Team’s Agile Culture With New Hires
    • 10.2 Interpersonal Skills Matter on Distributed Agile Teams
    • 10.3 Consider the Half-Life of Skill Sets
    • 10.4 Recruiting People For Your Distributed Agile Team
    • 10.5 Beware of Isolated-by-Design People and Organizations
    • 10.6 Define Your Interview Steps
    • 10.7 Use a Buddy System to Integrate New People
    • 10.8 Changing People on Your Distributed Agile Team
    • 10.9 Split to “Scale” Your Teams
    • 10.10 Integrating People Traps
    • 10.11 Now Try This
  • 11. Lead Distributed Agile Teams to Success
    • 11.1 Cultivate Affinity Between People and Teams
    • 11.2 When Distributed Agile Is Not Right For You
    • 11.3 How Leaders Can Show Their Agile Mindset
    • 11.4 Build Your Distributed Agile Management Skills
    • 11.5 Set a New Direction
    • 11.6 Focus on “Better” When Scaling Distributed Agile Teams
    • 11.7 Start With a Distributed Agile Management Culture
    • 11.8 Set the Path for Your Distributed Agile Journey
  • Appendix A: Our Toolset
    • Communication Tools
    • Book Generation Tools
    • Integrating Reviewer Feedback
    • Tools We Didn’t Use
    • How We Lived the Mindset
  • Appendix B: Compass Activity for Distributed Teams
    • Preparation
    • The Basic Activity
    • Facilitation Tips
    • References
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Glossary
  • More from Johanna
  • More from Mark
  • Notes

About the Publisher

This book is published on Leanpub by Practical Ink

Johanna Rothman's books on leanpub. Practical, frank, and often humorous tips you can put to work right now.

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