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Agile Practices 101

The Remote Collaboration Chasm

Retrium Team


There are no retrospective best practices 😱 


Wait? What! 


We were rather shocked when we heard this from Kirsten Clacey and Jay-Allen Morris in their November 18th webinar, The Collaboration Chasm.


But it turns out they had a great reason for this potentially controversial opinion.  


Agile coaches and co-authors of the Remote Facilitators Pocket Guide, Kirsten Clacey and Jay-Allen Morris specialize in enabling distributed teams to reach high levels of performance by using a combination of adapted facilitation techniques, team coaching methods, and agile frameworks. For this webinar, they wanted to create a little perspective amidst this manic year and to carve out a reflection space for us all to see our context in a new way and choose how to move forward as our best selves and teams.


So why are there no best practices? 


Clacey and Allen, remind us to think about context: one team’s remote experience is not the same as another team’s remote experience. This is the chasm: the space between all the exciting new ideas we’re discovering and the realities of working remotely that many of us are still struggling with. 

  • Is this a permanent move? 
  • Is emotional and physical health being accounted for?
  • Is your team continuing to invest in your relationships or did team-building exercises stop when you went remote? 


Of course, these answers will change from team to team. So when reading others’ best practices, it is important to remember that what works for them may not be the best practice for you and your team. 


As Jay-Allen and Kirsten explain, even teams that have been remote for decades have still never been remote in the middle of a pandemic, which can provide unique challenges for all of us. 


A Practical Example 


Kirsten and Jay-Allen start off with an example. 



In March, the CTO of a company in the transportation sector had to transition to working remotely overnight and with the sector heavily impacted by the lack of transportation needs during the pandemic, they were unsure of the future. Many members of the team were concerned about their security. And, while they placed a high value on human connection before going remote, they were struggling to maintain these relationships without a physical office to facilitate those connections. 


The CTO was drowning in advice and kept hearing that it is important for remote teams to be as asynchronous as possible. So the company decided to go 100% asynchronous overnight.  


“Herein lies the chasm. He started chasing these ideas or solutions rather than looking at his specific needs [...] We cannot cargo cult cultures of other remote organizations because if we do it’s way too easy to lose our unique identities. This company valued closeness, they were small enough to know everyone’s names and family’s names. That was in their DNA - and by going heavily async he had accidentally stripped that away” 



So how can we choose what is best practice for us? 


To help the CTO-- and teams across the world -- Kirsten and Jay-Allen recommend using the Spine Model to examine the company’s specific needs and goals and to maintain a shared perception of the way things currently are for the team.



With this model, teams can examine their needs, values, principles, practices, and tools to ensure alignment on decisions moving forward. 

Conclusion


You have to examine what is right for your team. Through open conversations and inclusive decision making, you can create your own best practice. 


If you would like to learn more, view the full webinar above or checkout Kirsten and Jay-Allen’s new book, The Remote Facilitators Pocket Guide! Available now. 

 

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Bio 


Kirsten Clacey and Jay-Allen Morris are the co-authors of The Remote Facilitator’s Pocket Guide. They have specialized in enabling distributed teams to reach high performance, using a combination of adapted facilitation techniques, team coaching methods, and Agile frameworks. Kirsten and Jay offer training, working with companies and have spoken and continue to speak at conferences on the topic of remote facilitation and creating effective distributed spaces. They have also created an online video course on remote facilitation.


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