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Scaling Distributed Teams around the Globe

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Video and slides synchronized, mp3 and slide download available at URL https://bit.ly/2RkhYPo.

Ranganathan Balashanmugam talks about how one distributed organization (with bases in India and Australia) has applied distributed systems patterns to scaling distributed teams' processes and further improved them. He shares examples of what went right, what went wrong, what they've learned as they've built a network of effective distributed teams across multiple countries, in multiple timezones. Filmed at qconlondon.com.

Ranganathan Balashanmugam has worked with globally distributed teams for the last fourteen years, and was recently named as one of the top 10 CTOs in India. He is currently CTO of EverestEngineering, which he scaled to 70+ people in the last one year, in three different regions. He is passionate about scaling and leading distributed teams.

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Scaling Distributed Teams around the Globe

  1. 1. Ranganathan Balashanmugam Scaling Distributed Teams Around The Globe
  2. 2. InfoQ.com: News & Community Site Watch the video with slide synchronization on InfoQ.com! https://www.infoq.com/presentations/ scaling-worldwide-distributed-teams/ • Over 1,000,000 software developers, architects and CTOs read the site world- wide every month • 250,000 senior developers subscribe to our weekly newsletter • Published in 4 languages (English, Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese) • Post content from our QCon conferences • 2 dedicated podcast channels: The InfoQ Podcast, with a focus on Architecture and The Engineering Culture Podcast, with a focus on building • 96 deep dives on innovative topics packed as downloadable emags and minibooks • Over 40 new content items per week
  3. 3. Purpose of QCon - to empower software development by facilitating the spread of knowledge and innovation Strategy - practitioner-driven conference designed for YOU: influencers of change and innovation in your teams - speakers and topics driving the evolution and innovation - connecting and catalyzing the influencers and innovators Highlights - attended by more than 12,000 delegates since 2007 - held in 9 cities worldwide Presented at QCon London www.qconlondon.com
  4. 4. Scaling Distributed Teams Around The Globe By Applying Learnings From Distributed Systems Ranganathan Balashanmugam
  5. 5. G'day mate, I’m Craig
  6. 6. “Its funny”
  7. 7. *Continuously improve through continuous feedback. Improve at macro and micro levels
  8. 8. Hi, I am Ranganathan Balashanmugam
  9. 9. Hi, I am Ranganathan Balashanmugam Ran-ga-na-WHAT???
  10. 10. Hi, I am Ranganathan Balashanmugam People butcher my name
  11. 11. ‘Ranganathan Balashanmugam’ makes for strong passwords
  12. 12. ‘Ranganathan$Balashanmugam’ makes for strong passwords
  13. 13. Call me R A N G A
  14. 14. My journey so far has been interesting. Head of India, Aconex Named as one of the top10 CTOs in India by CEO Insights Mag Software engineer for ~12 years Work with remote teams for 15 years 2016 Nov 2018 Founder and CTO, EverestEngineering Dec 2019
  15. 15. If you could all stand up and….
  16. 16. “A distributed system is a collection of autonomous computing elements that appears to its users as a single coherent system.” - Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms Book by Andrew S. Tanenbaum
  17. 17. “A distributed system is a collection of autonomous computing elements that appears to its users as a single coherent system.” - Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms Book by Andrew S. Tanenbaum teams team
  18. 18. Characteristics of distributed systems They operate concurrently They fail independently They do not share a global clock
  19. 19. Characteristics of distributed systems teams They operate concurrently They fail independently They do not share a global clock
  20. 20. <— Image source: https://www.holacracy.org/
  21. 21. “Fundamentals”
  22. 22. Why do you want to go distributed?
  23. 23. Why do you want to go distributed? It’s cheap Hiring limits Remote potential markets Outsource dirty work
  24. 24. Where to go?
  25. 25. Where do you want to go? Same city, same country, other country (limited by timezones) Availability of developers (competitive hiring) Language Agency vs own teams Cost of developers Trusted network for advice Ease of travel 23 million developers
  26. 26. Where to go? Number of software developers in the world Content source: https://www.daxx.com/blog/development-trends/number-software-developers-world
  27. 27. Number of software developers in the Europe Content source: https://www.daxx.com/blog/development-trends/number-software-developers-world
  28. 28. People who speak English Content source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-speaking_world#/media/File:Anglospeak.png
  29. 29. We vs They Us
  30. 30. Hiring, firing, retaining “Don’t hire the best.”
  31. 31. Hiring, firing, retaining “Don’t hire the best. Hire the right fit.”
  32. 32. Hiring, firing, retaining
  33. 33. Hiring, firing, retaining “Coach, Grow, Give Autonomy”
  34. 34. Virtual Distance “It is a sense of psychological distance from others that affects collaboration performance” The term Virtual Distance is coined by Karen Sobel Lojeski
  35. 35. Virtual Distance = Physical Distance + Operational Distance + Affinity Distance Content source:https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1109/HICSS.2006.484 Karen Sobel Lojeski “It is a sense of psychological distance from others that affects collaboration performance”
  36. 36. Virtual Distance = Physical Distance + Operational Distance + Affinity Distance Geography, time zones, and organizational affiliation. The term Virtual Distance is coined by Karen Sobel Lojeski
  37. 37. Virtual Distance = Physical Distance + Operational Distance + Affinity Distance The “noise” in the system. The term Virtual Distance is coined by Karen Sobel Lojeski
  38. 38. Virtual Distance = Physical Distance + Operational Distance + Affinity Distance The barriers to form deep, meaningful relationships. The term Virtual Distance is coined by Karen Sobel Lojeski
  39. 39. How might we reduce this virtual distance?
  40. 40. 7 key takeaways for scaling distributed teams Communication is the foundation. Model your framework - roles, responsibilities, decision making. Choose right tools - software and hardware. Plan for collaboration and concentration time. Local first. Find the local leader. Promote open online chit-chats.
  41. 41. 7 key takeaways for scaling distributed teams Communication is the foundation. Model your framework - roles, responsibilities, decision making. Choose right tools - software and hardware. Plan for collaboration and concentration time. Local first. Find the local leader. Promote open online chit-chats. *Continuously improve through continuous feedback.
  42. 42. Communication is the foundation Handwriting images source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/PSM_V34_D861_Espy_letter.png, https:// surgeryattiffanys.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/doctors-handwriting.jpg, https://www.quora.com/Why-do-doctors-write- prescriptions-in-an-illegible-manner, https://www.bankslane-jun.stockport.sch.uk/assets/Uploads/Handwriting-Policy-and- Guidelines4.pdf
  43. 43. Communication is the foundation My current thoughts.This talk is boring and I feel like sleeping. I feel full after the lunch. The conference has good lunch. Do I have any notifications on slack? If I am reading this, I am smiling. Handwriting images source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/PSM_V34_D861_Espy_letter.png, https:// surgeryattiffanys.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/doctors-handwriting.jpg, https://www.quora.com/Why-do-doctors-write- prescriptions-in-an-illegible-manner, https://www.bankslane-jun.stockport.sch.uk/assets/Uploads/Handwriting-Policy-and- Guidelines4.pdf
  44. 44. Communication is the foundation
  45. 45. Communication is the foundation
  46. 46. Communication is the foundation
  47. 47. Communication is the foundation
  48. 48. Model your framework - roles, responsibilities, decision making.
  49. 49. Choose right tools - hardware and software Activity time
  50. 50. Choose right tools - hardware and software
  51. 51. Choose right tools - hardware and software
  52. 52. Plan for collaboration and concentration time
  53. 53. Local first Story and image source: https://worksthatwork.com/2/a-hole-in-the-darkness
  54. 54. Find the local leader
  55. 55. Promote open online chit-chats
  56. 56. Promote open online chit-chats
  57. 57. *Continuously improve through continuous feedback. Improve at macro and micro levels
  58. 58. Summary Understand why? Set We vs Us. Where do you want to go? Hiring, firing, retention Virtual distance = physical + operational + affinity distance. How do we reduce virtual distance?
  59. 59. 7 key takeaways for scaling distributed teams Communication is the foundation. Model your framework - roles, responsibilities, decision making. Choose right tools - software and hardware. Plan for collaboration and concentration time. Local first. Find the local leader. Promote open online chit-chats. *Continuously improve through continuous feedback.
  60. 60. Questions? “It depends” is his standard answer https://medium.com/@ran_than https://twitter.com/ran_than https://in.linkedin.com/in/ranganathanb
  61. 61. Watch the video with slide synchronization on InfoQ.com! https://www.infoq.com/presentations/ scaling-worldwide-distributed-teams/

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