Alexis Monville (en)

Time matter for a team

The fact that time matter for a team is not a controversial matter. I think we would all agree on that. The other aspect of time that we will all agree quickly on is that, not all time will matter the same way.

We will not value an hour stuck in a traffic jam the same way as an hour hiking on a trail, or an hour shopping, or an hour playing with friends, and so on…

So when it comes to how an individual contribution could be the most effective, what is the time that matters the most?

When asked, people usually look at three different types of time:

  • Synchronization time,
  • Collaboration time,
  • Focus time.

Synchronization time

Synchronization time is when team members share their progress, challenges, learnings, so they all can stay on the same page, aligned toward the same goal.

During synchronization time, we can identify opportunities for activities that will fall into the two other types of time. It could be an opportunity of collaboration on understanding and solving an issue or a possibility of training in a specific area to take two examples.

Collaboration time

Collaboration time is when two or more people work together to accomplish a specific activity. Activities could be different, like pair or mob programming, writing, designing, reviewing, and so on.

Focus time

Focus time is when team members work alone, ideally without interruptions so that they can work on one thing in an ideal state. Like writing an article to share knowledge (and initiate a feedback loop that will bring more learning opportunities in return).

Why it Matters?

I believe it matters for a team to agree on the practices they will adopt to benefit from the three types of time. Those practices can evolve over time, and as a consequence, their team agreements evolve accordingly.

The practices vary upon the physical organization of the team. Practices have to be different when the team is collocated in the same room, spread over a building, in multiple offices or locations, spread over multiple timezones.

A practice that works well for synchronization when the team is collocated, like a quick 10-minute morning check-in in front of a kanban board, will not work when the team is distributed over 15 timezones. In the latter case, synchronization still matters, but another synchronization practice will have to be defined for the team.

It is the same for the collaboration time and focus time. Practices are different depending on the collocation or distribution of the team. The main aspect is that it has to be defined!

Do you and your team have defined practices for the three types of time? And what are you preferred practices?

As usual, please comment, tweet or direct emails! Thank you!