One of these days I was thinking how narcissistic of me it should be that the moments when I'm most present in a remote meeting is when I'm doing the talking. And then I started thinking about the word present. Being present means being really there in mind, not necessarily in body. And doesn't mean camera open while read Twitter and run some tests in the Terminal. It means understanding, writing questions, asking those questions and getting completely engaged.
And being present is hard. Sometimes I'm not with the mind for engaging in a subject at 10am during the meeting, but at 2pm I got some really good insights about it but the time box is now closed. I lost my opportunity to help (or not) with my comment. And let's be honest, in remote work it's hard enough even to get a response for "can you hear me ok?", we can't just miss opportunities of contribution.
The adaptation of Agile that we did as soon as the pandemics started is not enough anymore. We can't continue having meetings for every subject in fixed hours while our team works in many different time zones. Remote and Hybrid work are now the future of work in Technology and Agile urgently needs to embrace an async format to get in sync with our true needs.
Embrace async work is not going to be easy. We will change habits, and if it's hard to change a simple habit like drinking more water during the day, it will be harder to change the habit of having the answer to our questions right away. To accomplish this changes we will need to use a different format of conversation: TEXT.
And using text as our main format of communication guarantees two things that having remote meetings for everything don't give us: first thing is that more people can give their input, making decision making more inclusive and the second thing is letting our decision process documented to those who couldn't participate still get the context from the main source.
NOOOOOOO! Slack (and Gchat) is a business conversation app, things disappear there too easily, as soon as a new thread starts, the others immediately starts to get old. Slack is for punctual things like three people solving some confusion from a story in a thread and then finito. I could revisit it after if I wanted to, but I would need to search for it because new conversations already took place and the thread is already up up there.
Gladly we do have some nice tools nowadays that could really help having some rituals async, like Miro and Jamboard.
Thinking about Standups (dailies) for example, a nice Jamboard can be an awesome way to pass context between stories to all team, still with the same idea of letting people know if you need help or if you are nailing it and when you'll send that to code review. Of course we can timebox it like "everyone send updates till noon", but for example me, a person who got inspired at 3am and started working still can have my update in the board when the others are up and I got back to sleep.
And what about async Grooming sessions? Still with a Jamboard, we can have a board full of cards asking and answering questions, and they will all be there for whomever needs clarification of the story, time independent.
That's only the beginning of a conversation that I believe we need to have! Is your team already embracing async agile? I would love to know some cases here in the comments!
I still believe we need to be Agile, but this slowness in debating and updating our methodology isn't very Agile of us.