Effective Agile Blog

Do you know your team's "room tone"?

Jul 06 2009

 I recently sat in on my friend David Bernstein's new patterns course. David and his wife Staci are also filmmakers and Staci was there to record both days and to create a self-paced version of the course. At the beginning of the second day David told us that we needed to sit quietly for 30 seconds or so while Staci captured the "room tone". They explained that when during the editing process, when they cut to David's reactions to questions or to students reactions to David, they would need add in the ambient room noise or "room tone" to make it sound more natural. Not being that level of filmmaker, it made sense to me, but I had never heard of the term before.

However, I do know the concept. I worked in retail for many years and I would develop a sixth sense about if things were ok on the selling floor in the store. Too quiet or noise out of place meant that I should investigate to make sure that everything was all right.
As a ScrumMaster and Agile Coach, I develop the same feeling about the team's work environment. Depending on the team the "room tone" will be different and in iterative development the tone will be different depending on the stage of the iteration the team is in.
If a team is mid-sprint and working normally, I would expect to hear a low drone of people collaborating. If I hear silence or shouting, I need to see what is wrong. The level will change from team to team but there should be some conversation almost all of the time.
Late in the sprint things tend to quiet down a bit. Concentration on finishing the last stories is high and most of the decisions have been made. An up-tick in the noise late in a sprint can mean that there is a problem.
Early in the day, I tend to notice more noise as people settle in for the day and get going. While it may be normal for a team, a very quiet early day might mean an underlying issue.
Obviously the greatest case for collocation of your team is collaboration and cooperation, but it can also help you keep tabs on the health of the team. When you have people working in private offices or different locations, it is much harder to hear the "room tone". You can hear it, but it will be with careful observation of email and other electronic communication.

HDX 6000

We can't always move people. It just does not make sense in a lot of cases. However I think that we are on the verge of a revolution in telecommunications for remote workers. Doug Shimp and I have been working with Polycom this year and have been beta testing a new personal high definition video conferencing system. This system allows us to work together as if we were setting next to each other in the same office, although we are over 1500 miles apart. 
When combined with a multi-point system in the team room, you can create a virtual team that can really work together and you will be able to hear the "team tone".   I'm not in the business of selling teleconferencing equipment, rather I'm in the business of improving software development team productivity. If you have a distributed team, you should ask yourself how you can mitigate the impediment of a non-collocated team. I'm thinking that the ROI on a system that would put all your people into the same room, virtually, would be very high.
I'll also be watching for the new offering from David Bernstein of Techniques of Design!


 Effective Agile Development LLC

DUNS - 831517730

Tag Cloud
Post History
Blog Archive
2015 Dec  97  1
2015 May  12  1
2013 May  142  1
2011 May  5  1
2009 Dec  11  2
2009 Nov  0  1
2009 Jul  12  2
2009 Jun  16  1
2009 May  2  1
2009 Apr  1  2
Rod's Articles on ezineaticles.com

Get Aggregated RSS

The Role of the Product Owner in Scrum

Friday, June 19, 2009

The goal of the Product Owner must be to deliver the right business value. To do this, they engage the team(s) to create solutions that deliver the business value. The Product Owner is listening to and evaluating the needs of the stakeholder community. They must have a great business sense and understand their market and customers. They must understand what is technically possible. From all this input they deliver a stream of input to the team about what the priorities are. They are constantly updating this information and evaluating the output of the team to check it for completeness and correctness.

Scrum is a Flexible Process!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Most organizations reacquire a tool to help manage complex distributed team projects. To be Agile the tool must be flexible.

From rod-claar.net
Scrum Alliance REP


Scrum Alliance

Contact Us
Effective Agile Development LLC
4676 Commercial St. SE #193
Salem, Oregon 97302
Toll Free - (888) 294-1865
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • rod-claar.net