Maximise then Optimise Face-to-Face Communication

The Short and Sweet:

  • Communication is mutual understanding.
  • Maximise the availability of the Business Representative for face-to-face communication to maximise creativity and productivity.
  • Face-to-face communication is the most direct method of communication but often an accompanying visual narrative will enhance its effectiveness.
  • Having everyone in the same room maximises the opportunity for face-to-face communication and indirect communication but some individuals need silence, music or isolation to maximise their creativity and productivity.
  • Project Managers should create an environment that maximises face-to-face communication then optimise this by allowing for auditory or physical isolation on a case-by-case basis.

Relevant Agile Manifesto Principles

Agile Manifesto Principle #4: ‘Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.’

Agile Manifesto Principle #6: ‘The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.’

AgileSweet Economics and Practices

Communication is mutual understanding.

Value maximisation through design and quality assurance optimisation occurs when communication is optimised because communication is the most important factor for maximising creativity and productivity.

Embedded Business Representatives

Maximise the availability of the Business Representative for face-to-face communication to maximise creativity and productivity.

Face-to-Face Communication

The ecology (the people, place and processes) of the development environment should maximise face-to-face communication.

Face-to-face communication in the team room setting naturally maximises comprehension and allows for other team members to overhear, absorb and contribute to the discussion.

Face-to-face communication is efficient because it is direct and it allows for the rapid evaluation of whether mutual understanding has been achieved. This efficiency drives productivity and stimulates creativity.

Face-to-face communication efficiency is often enhanced by simultaneously drawing concepts on a page or white-board.

Team Work Place

The ecology of the work environment, the places where the work is done, should be arranged so that everyone is exposed to all the discussions and questions raised.

Diffusion of information is all important for driving creativity and productivity.

The manager/software producer should always be mindful of optimising the trade off between total exposure to all team communications and quite time needed to maximise productivity. The Project Manager must know their personal work characteristics and preferences of each staff member in order to do this.

See Ecology/Place.

Concentration Rooms and Head Phones

Preferably everyone should be available to everyone else at all times however, software development is complex and creativity and innovation are often best done in isolated or silent environments.

If possible the development team should have a concentration room available that seats two or three where total silence is expected.

This obviously goes against the premise of maximising the speed of diffusion of information so it should not be over used by key team members.

If a concentration room is not available then head phones can do the job.

The goal is to avoid the situation where some staff members come in early or work late just to get some quite time as this is often done at the expense of their home life and will lead to productivity and creativity issues.