Today I tweeted "Most Distributed Agile efforts make a travesty of original Agile values & render many agile practices pointless." This may sound like a case of sour grapes but I don't mean to sound like a cynical commentator talking from the sidelines. I'm pretty sad about this situation and wish it wasn't so. However, I think more people need to speak out about the problems with trying to apply Agile in a distributed setting so organisations go into this with their eyes open.

My main motivation in coaching agile teams is to help them apply agile principles and practices effectively. I hate to see people's time wasted in pointless activities, that includes me, as well as the teams I coach. More often nowadays I find myself working with people who want to use an Agile approach in the context of a large organisation, where people working on a project are spread over multiple locations. Time again I find myself questioning whether it is possible to get the benefits offered by an Agile approach in this situation.

At the heart of Agile software development are some basic ideas.

* better alignment with business priorities by working directly with business throughout the project to create a value stream rather than one big delivery at the end
* improved accountability through transparent progress against visible plans
* building software that is fit for purpose by proactively seeking user feedback
* improved understanding through conversation rather than reliance on documentation
* reduced management overhead as self-organising team determines daily work

Advantages of a collocated team:
* can easily have conversations where everyone is included, decisions can be made quickly.
* can use low-tech tools to supplement conversations, such as whiteboards, sticky notes, index cards.
* can see who's in the office and whether they're busy.
* can socialise to build better relationships improving collaboration within and outside team.

Contrast this with a distributed group:
* more formality required for meetings, narrow windows when everyone is available and heavy reliance on teleconferences without visualisations

* Working as a team enables individuals to self-organise around the work
* Reducing the barriers between team members allows them to communicate more quickly.
* Decisions can be made more quickly when teams are together
* Transparency to business is better