Hybrid Agility Challenges Part 1: It’s harder to redirect virtually.

Agile When Your Team is Hybrid: Challenges According to the Audience

I spoke at CodeMash last week about Hybrid Agility and did not get a chance to share all of the survey responses nor what I would suggest during my talk about what works for challenges people shared.

I have a lot to say about this topic, but nearly all of the items audience members shared could be conversations for a retrospective on an agile team. If you have a retrospective facilitator, why not ask if you can have a focused retrospective on hybrid working for your team? Letting colleagues know we plan to discuss this next retro could allow everyone to come to the conversation prepared to share and hear what’s difficult for team mates and to collaboratively problem solve.

I can also say confidently, having written team agreements that you can reference can go a long way for a lot of these, too.

Maybe both at the same time – a retro where you write you team agreements and talk about the challenges for people on team.

I’ll pick on one example to give a little more color:

Asking people to stop falling down rabbit holes or diverting from topics is harder virtually.

Why not raise this at a retro? This could be raised in a blameless way.

I notice sometimes the conversation seems to fall down rabbit holes and as a team we find it harder to refocus when we are virtual.”


I find it difficult when we get off topic and we aren’t all in the same room because I don’t know how to redirect the conversation.”

I’ve seen teams successfully agree to signal we’re veering off topic in their working agreement or as a ground rules:

  • “Use ELMO (Everyone Let’s Move On) when we are going into too much detail. “
  • Some teams have an actual printed ELMO card that folks hold up.
  • Use your hands to signal “T” for time out to check whether this discussion is going to help us with the meeting goal or should be on placed on the parking lot.
  • As a team, we maintain a parking lot for every meeting to help us stay focused on the topic at hand.
  • Raise a hand in Zoom when you’re not sure if we are still on topic.

You could also try better meeting hygiene with an agenda and facilitator. Often we veer off topic because we’re not all aligned on the goal of the meeting or discussion. An agenda and a meeting facilitator can help you keep on track.

Let’s say none of the above are options. What about the meeting protocols? How could you, or someone else, suggest a guideline for how the meeting attendees respond to conversations that are diverting from the topic? Do people even know when it’s happening? What might you, or the team, be able to do so that teammates can be better aware of this?

I wish I’d had another hour in my talk to just talk over all of the challenges shared. There’s a reason that working agreements and/or retros did not come to mind for people. What could that reason be?

While a retro and/or team working agreements can help nearly any of these, some might require more than that.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to try addressing each of the items audience members shared in some way. If you’ve got ideas on these, please share in the conversation on LinkedIn.

Stay tuned.

Categorized as Agile

By carina

Amateur painter.