Critique of the Distributed Agile Team Model
The most quickly evolving business model is the “distributed agile team,” which describes most companies I’ve worked with over the last 5 years. Being “Distributed” often involves employees who telecommute, but strictly speaking it just means the team members and/or offices aren’t centralized anywhere. These teams are often spread around the region, country, or even globe to provide manpower for 24/7 coverage or support. The “Agile” part of the trend can trace its roots to digital development teams, but the principle applies in other fields:
“The best teams are usually most productive when given the freedom to be task-oriented and not deadline-oriented, self-motived rather than fear-motivated.”
Revenue: For many, going distributed & agile means significantly less overhead. No office utilities, you rarely need more than a couple people running the entire HR department, distance and better yet, it’s more feasible to provide ’round-the-clock support and/or inbound & outbound sales calls
Work Environment: The results for at least a dozen startups I’m familiar with are staggeringly successful, until they grew a good bit and the distributed model bit back. Eventually, being based out of an “HQ” turns into a rarity, and eventually the administrative-level jobs become too much for the core founding team. Since the nature of telecommuting can be prohibitive to building co-worker rapport, it’s not unusual for founding members or C-levels to hesitate when it comes time to hand off a portion of administrative work.
Longevity: The distributed agile model works for the long haul in fields like programming development, but for most every other field, successful Agile Startups eventually outdo themselves and have to realize they’re not Peter Pan – they’ve grown up and have to take the deadlines & business law that comes with it.