Creating a great work environment for agile teams

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Chatz

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Jul 2, 2010, 6:10:10 AM7/2/10
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We have a rare opportunity at Aconex in the coming months to create a
work environment to support our Scrum and Kanban teams by fitting out
a warehouse floor in an old building in Melbourne. Suprisingly, there
is not a lot of information out there on layouts that best suit agile
teams and there seems to be conflicting advice around balancing
communication and allowing programmers to focus without distractions.

So far I'm thinking tables on casters to allow teams to arrange as
they see fit, power and network cables coming down from ceiling trays
so that desk locations are not restricted, moveable partitions with
mounted white boards and pin boards. No walls, there is heaps of room
for the 70 staff. I'm not sure about lighting, the idea of desk lamps
for everyone (there is not a huge amount of natural light) rather that
flouro's.

ie Ideally it will still have an "industrial" feel, even retro look,
but be very practical and flexible.

Does anyone have some examples (photos please!) they would like to
share on environments that have worked well (and what to avoid)?

Thanks,

David Chatterton
CTO & Certified Scrum Master
Aconex

Gerry Kirk

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Jul 2, 2010, 8:10:56 AM7/2/10
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I think Mike Cohn has a bunch on his Mountaingoat blog

Gerry Kirk
Agile change agent
gerrykirk.net

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Mark Levison

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Jul 2, 2010, 9:29:07 AM7/2/10
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Wow. Congrats first up.

On Fri, Jul 2, 2010 at 6:10 AM, Chatz <david.ch...@gmail.com> wrote:
We have a rare opportunity at Aconex in the coming months to create a
work environment to support our Scrum and Kanban teams by fitting out
a warehouse floor in an old building in Melbourne. Suprisingly, there
is not a lot of information out there on layouts that best suit agile
teams and there seems to be conflicting advice around balancing
communication and allowing programmers to focus without distractions.

So when you're done you will document what you learn for the rest of us.

So far I'm thinking tables on casters to allow teams to arrange as
they see fit, power and network cables coming down from ceiling trays
so that desk locations are not restricted, moveable partitions with
mounted white boards and pin boards. No walls, there is heaps of room
for the 70 staff. I'm not sure about lighting, the idea of desk lamps
for everyone (there is not a huge amount of natural light) rather that
flouro's.

Sounds like you're thinking in the right direction, with 70 people partitions will be a must for minimizing noise. I would add to that - involve the team members. Bring them to the furniture show room. Their collective knowledge will be informative.

Cheers
Mark Levison


Christopher Linde

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Jul 2, 2010, 12:17:40 PM7/2/10
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Very big. How many concurrent projects?

Sent from my iPhone

Andy Brandt

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Jul 2, 2010, 3:35:14 PM7/2/10
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Wow Chatz!

Great opportunity, indeed - many here will envy you. Be sure share
what you will learn with the world later on - you are bound to have
lots of interesting insights based on how teams will work in this
environment.

You're mostly on the right track, but consider a couple of points:
- as Mark pointed out some partitions are a must with 70 people,
- also that teams work together doesn't mean they have to spend whole
time together. When I have a hard problem to solve I prefer a quiet,
private spot and others and their normal daily activity annoys me. I
know I'm not unique which is why I'm always suggesting a "quiet room"
or a couple for those that sometimes prefer a bit of quiet.
- finally, you have 70 people who will be spending lots of their
waking hours there - why not get them involved in arranging this
space?

All the luck - and please, post back some pics and how this story went
on.

--
Best regards,
Andy Brandt

http://www.bananascrum.com/ - my Scrum tool
http://www.andybrandt.net/ - my blog

scott.duncan

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Jul 2, 2010, 3:51:47 PM7/2/10
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For everyone's interest, check out Menlo Innivation's website. They
are in Ann Arbor, MI and welcome visitors to tour their "factory".
They practice XP, have a "warehouse" environment, and
sound like they have set up much as David is suggesting he might.
They have some phoitos on their site so you can see what their setup
looks like as well a a number of free downloads describing how they
work. They spoke at the recent Agile Roots conference with their CEO,
coach, and two developers conducting sessions.

Carlo Kruger

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Jul 3, 2010, 4:24:11 AM7/3/10
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Another point to consider (which I think appears in Alistair
Cockburn's "Agile software Development: The cooperative game") is the
positioning of less formal areas like kitchens or lounge areas.

These function as an opportunity for people to circulate information
"naturally" between teams and should be positioned in such a way that
all employees are equally likely to use them. So avoid having multiple
places which are frequented preferentially by some people.

Martin Fowler has a recent article on his view at:
http://martinfowler.com/bliki/TeamRoom.html

What struck me was his discussion about central layout vs. Upod
http://martinfowler.com/bliki/UPod.html

A fellow coach was unconvinced that the Upod was a good layout for
collaboration, but I think it may be a good one especially in your
case.

Good luck and have fun with it.

Carlo

m: +27 83 292 6632
t: twitter.com/ironicbuddha
w: http://carlokruger.com

Chatz

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Jul 3, 2010, 7:13:20 PM7/3/10
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Mark,

>
> So when you're done you will document what you learn for the rest of us.
>

Definately.

>
>
> > So far I'm thinking tables on casters to allow teams to arrange as
> > they see fit, power and network cables coming down from ceiling trays
> > so that desk locations are not restricted, moveable partitions with
> > mounted white boards and pin boards. No walls, there is heaps of room
> > for the 70 staff. I'm not sure about lighting, the idea of desk lamps
> > for everyone (there is not a huge amount of natural light) rather that
> > flouro's.
>
> Sounds like you're thinking in the right direction, with 70 people
> partitions will be a must for minimizing noise. I would add to that -
> involve the team members. Bring them to the furniture show room. Their
> collective knowledge will be informative.
>

We have the floor above today and its has been fitted out in a very
open plan. Because the space is so open the acoustics are very
strange. You tend not to be able to hear someone clearly who is no
more than 3 metres away, the sound doesn't reflect off anything. But
there is this continuous background noise.

So partitions will definately be needed in team areas to assist with
communication and to block out noise from outside the team area.
However the ceiling is 6 metres high, so portable partitions will
never get close. Installing a false ceiling is not a great option, not
only due to cost but also losing the industrial look.

I will try to get some pictures when I'm back in the office in a
week's time.

David

Chatz

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Jul 3, 2010, 7:19:03 PM7/3/10
to Scrum Alliance - transforming the world of work.
5 sprint teams, 2 operations teams (1 kanban), 1 support team plus
others.
Most teams are working on the one large product, so scrum of scrum and
other cross sprint activities are important.

David

Chatz

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Jul 3, 2010, 7:59:09 PM7/3/10
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Carlo,

Thanks, there are some great links there.

One of my teams has already created their own u-pod with a table in
the middle, its working well for them as they don't have to leave
their area for any of their meetings.

Thanks,

David


On Jul 3, 6:24 pm, Carlo Kruger <ironicbud...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Another point to consider (which I think appears in Alistair
> Cockburn's "Agile software Development: The cooperative game") is the
> positioning of less formal areas like kitchens or lounge areas.
>
> These function as an opportunity for people to circulate information
> "naturally" between teams and should be positioned in such a way that
> all employees are equally likely to use them. So avoid having multiple
> places which are frequented preferentially by some people.
>
> Martin Fowler has a recent article on his view at:http://martinfowler.com/bliki/TeamRoom.html
>
> What struck me was his discussion about central layout vs. Upodhttp://martinfowler.com/bliki/UPod.html

Mark Levison

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Jul 9, 2010, 5:21:04 PM7/9/10
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David - I found the question so interesting I've commissioned an article for InfoQ from the people at Menlo Innovations - sadly it won'y publish until later in the fall.

Best of luck.
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