This is a transcript. For the full video, see The human side of agile software development: Managing diverse remote teams: Pts. 3 & 4 - Tag1 TeamTalk #025-26.
Preston So: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome back to our mini series with our special guest Janie Ledet. We're talking about managing diverse remote teams. My name is Preston So. I'm the editor in chief at Tag1 and the host of today's episode of Tag1 TeamTalks. And I'm joined today by two dear colleagues of mine, Janie Ledet, based in Fort Collins, Colorado. She's project manager and scrum lead at Tag1, volunteers for nonprofits that help girls learn how to code, and also has a large amount of expertise working not only as a software developer, but also as project and program manager at Hewlett Packard for over a decade, working on customized Linux distributions and also 3-D graphics cards as well.
Today, we'll be talking also with Michael Meyers, managing director at Tag1 in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. And let's go ahead and kick things right off. One of the things that I think we really wanted to focus on in today's installment of this mini series was, exactly how Is it to manage high functioning, remote teams and, and what are some of the, the tips and tricks and the tools of the trade and best practices, that, that you've been able to learn about and acquire over the course of, of your decades, of expertise, Janie and, and, and what are some examples of, of great tools or, or, or great stories or anecdotes that you have from, from your experience managing these, these remote teams?
Janie Ledet: [00:01:18] Yeah, happy to share Preston. Over the years, I've put together something called the CARE philosophy, and I'm going to share kind of each of these four things that I think are key themes, or how to, manage teams and particularly, for distributed teams. So here at Tag1, we have folks that we work with all over the globe.
And so it's been really important to find ways to really connect the teams and find tools and processes that make that possible. So the C in CARE is for collaborate. So that means leveraging open source communities, especially Drupal.org. So we find, we search out there for what's already been developed, reuse, and then we collaborate with the entire community, to contribute back, when we implement something new.
The other thing, the other area that we can draw from is clubs. So finding people both in business and in personal life, people who support you and those that you can support. And then another, concept around this, around collaboration is just always having complete transparency and building trust with the team.
And the way we do this and practical examples of how we make this kind of collaboration happen is to have quick frequent, candid connections with each other. So ask directly for what we need, use Slack or Google drive or Kanban boards, to have quick discussions, quick exchanges, frequently throughout the day.
Once a week, I meet with all of my team members to have a quick, just check in touch base. How are things going? What can I do to support you? Another thing around collaboration is making Tag1 is a world class company. So we're able to attract top talent. So we always have on tap people who have just, who are just amazing at their jobs and a pleasure to work with.
And that makes us attractive to customers because they know that we can bring in that level of folks to work with. The other thing is that connections on Zoom can only go so far. Face-to-face is best. So once in a while, we always try to either at DrupalCon meet up with each other, or retreats, or maybe having a virtual coffee together, try to connect that way.
Sometimes it's not possible to do face to face. So we also have informal discussions on Slack, or at the beginning of meetings where we just have some water cooler conversation and make sure that we connect with each other. Okay. So Care, back to the CARE Philosophy, A stands for Agile. So this is just around having a growth mindset and I'll go a little bit more into agile processes, in the next segment.
But the key things to think about here are having a growth mindset. I'm trying to make sure that we are always getting feedback to rapid prototyping, implement something. and then immediately provide value. So for instance, there's a tree swing, agile picture that shows, okay, maybe if a client, if a customer wanted a tree swing, you might first start by just hanging rope in the tree.
Next might be. Okay, hang a tire on the tree. Next might be, let's customize the seat a little bit, make it more comfortable. And so we do that on the websites by, instead of waiting to launch the website at the end of the product, we launch little pieces and get immediate feedback from end users on Okay. Here's what we think you wanted us to implement, try it out and tell us if we should change something or, or make it a little bit better. In, in specific ways. Another thing that's really important about being agile is that we can analyze data, very objectively. So we start thinking about, who's going to use this, how are they going to use it?
And, and then taking that information and coming up with categories of users and, helping, that helps to define the problem that we're really solving and getting to the root of what we're trying to, the problem that we're trying to solve and who we're solving it for. And then adapting. If we find out new information, then we change, we're willing to throw out something that we've developed and think, Oh, there's a business need that this client has, that really makes us want to change it.
So that for instance, their website is more sustainable and maintainable for them to use. Agility also applies to our personal lives. So, if we, for instance, if I'm feeling really stressed out and thinking I'm not taking enough time right now to allow enjoyment in my life, instead of having a harsh judgment about that.
I try to just let it go and think about what is it that I want to manifest instead and say that in present tense, something like I'm relaxing. I can, I can imagine myself relaxing and reading my book in the hammock. And so I can apply agility to my personal life as well. The R in CARE is for Rotate.
So, traditionally I worked in a cubicle farm nine to five hours, and I, my life was very separate from my work. That's not the case anymore. I time box. So throughout the day I break my life into chunks, and I'm really flexible about how that needs to move and change. But, this way of working, I've observed in my coworkers, means that they're so much happier.
We have meaningful work. We have autonomy to do it when we want to, we have control over the environment where we work. And on that idea of environment, I would encourage people who are just starting to work from home, invest in your home office equipment, take time to really get your ergonomics right.
Spend money on a nice gaming headset that's comfortable. Think about music that you could have in the background. Just set the tone for your work. maybe have a white noise maker, to drown out background noise. Another idea is to have some structure, so it doesn't have to be, you know, nine to five, but separate your work life from your home life by, maybe a change in your apparel. So I have my friend Elisia likes to wear her set of pearls when she is working that way, her husband and her children know Mommy is working right now. So she needs to focus. And then when she takes that off, even though she's sitting on the same couch in the same place, now she's ready to more engage in her home life.
I have a hair tie that I put on the knob of my home office so that my children know that they shouldn't come running in, in their pajamas when I'm on a teleconference call, maybe having a. A pair of shoes that you wear when you're at the office or slippers that you wear when you're, you know, when you go off to start a load of laundry, just so that there's some, some separation.
I think it's important to, to, schedule, to keep a calendar of my work life and my home life. That's separate, but combined so that I can really, prioritize what I'm working on every day. So I have a Trello board where I have, tasks for my work and my family and my personal goals. At the beginning of each day, something that I do is I set three critical tasks that I want to accomplish that day work-wise and then also three people that I need to connect with and I prioritize my day based on importance, urgency, and the impact that each thing has. And that's how I make my decisions about what to work on first.
The last section of the CARE philosophy is around E for Experiences. So this is all about thinking about how other people perceive the world. We all see the world through a unique lens. So instead of expecting everybody to. Fit the mold of being an ideal software engineer. I try to create complimentary groups of people. so, diversity to me is about representation at every level, especially decision makers.
And when we have diverse teams, it really, really helps with innovation and getting a well rounded design. so. We know the typical areas where we can have diversity, like gender and race. But there's also things like age. Sometimes having a college student, a new college student, come in and help gives us a different perspective.
That's really helpful, different personality types or ways of thinking and learning that people have can really help influence designs. and then also being cognizant of, physical people's different physical abilities, geographical locations, being inclusive of LGBTQ folks and, people's different communication preferences.
People's mental health needs, which is especially. important in these unprecedented times of COVID and other social justice issues that we're seeing, making sure to, take that into consideration. Some practical ways of, considering different experiences and diversity.
What does that look like? So using inclusive language, making sure that, there's a safe space for people to share their stories and, curb intolerances right away, if they happen, if someone makes an inappropriate joke, and just make sure that everybody knows that, I take a sincere interest in them and encourage them to bring their full selves without fear of being excluded or judging harshly for being their full selves.
So another practical way to apply this is by recognizing strengths and, and balancing roles and responsibilities to address each person's needs and preferences. So I might have someone who's really shy and not comfortable, so I will have someone else, share what that sub-team, accomplished, during a development cycle, instead of asking that really shy person to be super nervous and maybe uncomfortable. Instead, use some, another member of the team who's a little more charismatic and comfortable in that presenter mode, have them do the presentation. so, and we all have our strengths and talents and, it's important to make sure that we consider complementary pairings of people.
Another way that we can practice this is by holding two perspectives at once. So sometimes we, okay. Look at solving a problem as if we were the end user and we are not our users. It's important to stop and think about somebody else's perspective. This has really, really been apparent to me, when I became a parent, watching my children experience things for the first time, and thinking, Oh, I, you know, I maybe don't appreciate that.
Or haven't really thought about that in the same way. But watching my kids experience and discover something new, really challenges me sometimes, to rethink, beliefs or convictions that I may have had, and maybe shift a little bit.
Preston So: [00:15:45] Well, I think that, you know, that might be one of the most important, or, or at least the most challenging, project management responsibilities is, being a parent. Certainly. well, you know, I think that this, this is an amazing summary and, and a really great, I think concise answers, succinct illustration of the CARE philosophy or, or the care kind of ideas that really straddle that all of the different areas of software development that we have to think about around collaboration around agile, around a work life balance rotation, as well as lived experiences, which I love, you know, as being that, that in a way that's silent E at the end of care, so, wonderful, thanks so much Janie.
And unfortunately that is all the time we have for this third episode of this exciting mini series with Janie Ledet, all the resources that we mentioned today, we might have some resources available about the CARE philosophy. They're going to be posted online with this talk. And please remember to upvote, subscribe, and share.
Check out our past history of episodes at tag1.com/tagteamtalks. And as always, if you have any ideas about what we can talk about or what you'd like to hear about on our, on our show, please write to us at [00:17:00] email@example.com . And I want to thank my dear colleagues, Michael and Janie, for being here today and see you next time.