Last week Mike Vizdos wrote an article at Implementing that had me scratching my head a little. In this article Mike was arguing that Silence is a symptom of poor communication, and that when team members have conversations over messenger, those that would gain collateral information from the conversation would be shut out from such juicy bits.

One of my colleagues once walked into a room with a new team. When he told me about it, he said something along the lines of, “It was so quiet you could hear the waterfall.”

Think about that last statement for a moment. I’ll stick around.

Welcome back. Good thought break? Hope so.

When *I* hear this statement, I realize a team is probably not working to its full potential.

While not the Uber scrum master Mike is, I don’t think he understands the psychologies of programmers to realize that ambient conversations are going to murder their performance and concentration. When I initiate a conversation with a person over IM that is in the same office, it gives them the ability to multi-task and not be thrown off their process completely.

I’d basicly equate this to trying to program with the TV on. Some of us can do it, some of us can’t, but nobody is as productive with it on, as with it off.

A lot of the rules of Scrum are really important, transparency between client and team, team and scrum master, team and team are super important, but were not the Borg. And there are only so many hits performance can take in the name of transparency before Scrum starts to become a hindrance.

Long live IM!


2 Responses to “More Noise?”

  1. Mike Vizdos Says:


    Great posting!

    Please also remember that a Scrum Team is made up of more than *just* programmers. I used to be one early in my career, and understand the idea of distractions.

    May I recommend the following:

    Try embracing one of the other agile techniques such as “pair programming” — OK, this is not “Scrum” but a more advanced engineering practice that requires a willing and able team. While at first glimpse this may seem like a waste (it is not!)… it gets people TALKING with others and does actually improve the overall experience for the team.

    My goal of the article was to make sure that people understood that face-to-face communication (unlike this blog comment or the blog I publish weekly) is extremely important to the success of an agile team. It should not be replaced by email and IM.

    Contact me via IM if you’d like to discuss it more online (smile). Or call me!

    – mike vizdos

  2. justise Says:

    Hi Mike,

    I agree there is a great point in your article. I tend to forget what it was like to work in non-agile environments, now that I am in one. The communication that I have daily seems like something I should have been doing already, and that Agile just coerced that effort out of me/us.

    I’ll do a post on my pair programming experiences soon, this is definitely a practice that has been marketed wrongly.

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