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Putting People First - Building and Sustaining Awesome Distributed Teams at Scale

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Building and sustaining happy, productive, successful distributed teams is hard.

Using a mix of theory and interesting at-the-coalface stories, Mike Breeze from REA and Qiang Ma from ThoughtWorks discuss how the two organisations have partnered to achieve this at scale over the last four years, with many teams happily Delivering, Innovating and Thinking for them - simply by putting people first.

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Putting People First - Building and Sustaining Awesome Distributed Teams at Scale

  1. 1. PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST Building and sustaining awesome distributed teams at scale
  2. 2. BASIC PRACTICES - TECHNOLOGY Capability Tracking CI and CD
  3. 3. TRAVEL & CULTURE
  4. 4. THEN WHAT ELSE ? How do we grow and improve on this, at scale
  5. 5. AVOID THE DARK SIDE OF AGILE !  rituals without value !  technical excellence without business focus !  isolated teams without ecosystem
  6. 6. RITUALS WITHOUT VALUE On the Dark Side
  7. 7. STANDUP Energise Improve Focus Team Status
  8. 8. STANDUP Co-located “What value did I bring?” “What help do I need?” “What’s blocking me?”
  9. 9. Energise Improve Focus Team Status
  10. 10. STANDUP Co-located “What value did I bring?” “What help do I need?” “What’s blocking me?” Distributed Break the ice Build trust
  11. 11. Self actualisation Esteem Love/belonging Safety Physiological Motivation Empowerment Engagement Happiness☺︎ “There’s fast Internet here!” “I work for a great company.” “I like my remote team. We have fun! We trust each other.” Share language Share Food HAPPY, MOTIVATED PEOPLE & TEAMS Travel with Maslow’s Hierarchy of (Distributed Team) needs…
  12. 12. SHARE FOOD !  Eat together !  Celebrate together !  Grow relationships
  13. 13. Distributed Bake-Less Snacks Ingredients !  1 packet Arnotts “Marie” biscuits !  2-3 tablespoons cocoa !  2 cups desiccated coconut !  1 tin condensed milk !  hundreds and thousands !  2 bowls, 1 spoon !  distributed team Method !  crush biscuits into small pieces in bowl !  mix in cocoa and coconut !  stir in the condensed milk to create a thick mixture !  using hands, roll into small balls and dip into hundreds and thousands !  refrigerate for 15 minutes !  share and eat together!
  14. 14. SHARE LANGUAGE !  Team building opportunity !  Ice breaker
  15. 15. SHARE LANGUAGE !  Team building opportunity !  Ice breaker !  Share both ways!
  16. 16. Highly connected team (“We!”) Poorly connected team (“Us” vs “Them”) Communication and shared context starts to fall away Comms “bottomed out” - time to travel! TRAVEL IS CRITICAL !  Kick off projects !  Grow relationships !  Drive productivity
  17. 17. TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE WITHOUT BUSINESS FOCUS On the Dark Side
  18. 18. <geek>technique</geek>
  19. 19. <business> <geek>technique</geek> </business>
  20. 20. BUSINESS FOCUS
  21. 21. BUSINESS FOCUS Financial Year Business Analysis and Plan from technical team.
  22. 22. ISOLATED TEAMS WITHOUT ECOSYSTEM On the Dark Side
  23. 23. FEATURE TEAMS - THE DARK SIDE
  24. 24. FEATURE TEAMS - THE OTHER SIDE
  25. 25. ECOSYSTEM: TEAM LEVEL !  Stretch leaders !  Share practices !  Drive peer pressure
  26. 26. FIXING YOUR DARK SIDE !  rituals with values !  technical excellence with business focus !  ecosystem of teams
  27. 27. PULL BASED LEARNING
  28. 28. Push Make all we can just in case Pull Make what we need when we need it Parts Parts Parts Parts Parts Parts Parts Parts Parts Parts Parts Parts Parts
  29. 29. ANTI PATTERN “Scale the Training” or, De-scale the organization!
  30. 30. No delivery team was inflicted with boredom in the making of this picture. Humane Delivery Team Association We care for your devs
  31. 31. PULL BASED LEARNING – DE-SCALE
  32. 32. Self actualisation Esteem Love/belonging Safety Physiological Motivation Empowerment Engagement Happiness☺︎ “There’s fast Internet here!” “I work for a great company.” “I like my remote team. We have fun! We trust each other.” Share language Share Food “We build great stuff together, and we own it. We always try to grow as a team.” Pull based learning HAPPY, MOTIVATED PEOPLE & TEAMS Travel with Maslow’s Hierarchy of (Distributed Team) needs…
  33. 33. SOLVING THE GURU PROBLEM
  34. 34. SOLVING THE GURU PROBLEM
  35. 35. SOLVING THE GURU PROBLEM
  36. 36. !  Share responsibility early !  Share leadership early !  Fail and learn early
  37. 37. !  Share ownership !  Better software !  Drive innovation
  38. 38. Self actualisation Esteem Love/belonging Safety Physiological Motivation Empowerment Engagement Happiness☺︎ “There’s fast Internet here!” “I work for a great company.” “I like my remote team. We have fun! We trust each other.” Share language Share Food Pull based learning DevOps & Ops Leadership HAPPY, MOTIVATED PEOPLE & TEAMS Travel with Maslow’s Hierarchy of (Distributed Team) needs… “We build great stuff together, and we own it. We always try to grow as a team.”
  39. 39. HACKDAYS !  Build culture of innovation !  Open new relationships !  Have fun together"
  40. 40. INNOVATION BEYOND HACKDAY !  Drive inceptions !  Product hacks !  Drive ownership
  41. 41. INNOVATE SHIP IT! !  Teams love to ship !  Let them!
  42. 42. INNOVATION -> HAPPINESS:) Give your team the freedom to innovate for you. They will love you for it.
  43. 43. Self actualisation Esteem Love/belonging Safety Physiological Motivation Empowerment Engagement Happiness☺︎ “There’s fast Internet here!” “I work for a great company.” “I like my remote team. We have fun! We trust each other.” Share language Share Food HackDays! Pull based learning DevOps & Ops Leadership Ship it! HAPPY, MOTIVATED PEOPLE & TEAMS Travel with Maslow’s Hierarchy of (Distributed Team) needs… “We build great stuff together, and we own it. We always try to grow as a team.” “If we have a great idea, we are free to build it and test it in market. We are autonomous. We can be the best team ever!”
  44. 44. MANAGE COMPLEX (WITH SIMPLE PRACTICES) Business Context Productivity Technical Excellence Personal Success need for achievement need for affiliation need for power Trust Business Success Global Optimization Architect/tech Forum FridayDrink Showoff biz dashboard distributed cakes eco-system continuous deliveryalways-on video tech radar pitch delivery centre tours security guideline staffing baseline biz model canvas workshop culture book 2nd tier leadership speeches and articles daily code diff 90-day plan showcase pull based learning lean measurement
  45. 45. MANAGE COMPLEX (WITH SIMPLE PRACTICES) Business Context Productivity Technical Excellence Personal Success need for achievement need for affiliation need for power Trust Business Success Global Optimization Architect/tech Forum FridayDrink Showoff biz dashboard distributed cakes eco-system continuous deliveryalways-on video tech radar pitch delivery centre tours security guideline staffing baseline biz model canvas workshop culture book 2nd tier leadership speeches and articles daily code diff 90-day plan showcase pull based learning lean measurement Productivity Technical Excellence Personal Success Business Success
  46. 46. GREAT PEOPLE – AWESOME TEAMS
  47. 47. Q & A Mike Breeze mike.breeze@rea-group.com Qiang Ma qma@thoughtworks.com

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