Discover more from Womplers
Is your understanding of Face-to-face right?
So many people misunderstand the meaning of face-to-face as described by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development
The Manifesto for agile software development was way back in 2001. It was a different time back then than compared to today. The one statement in the Manifesto for agile software development that has not aged well is
The most efficient and effective method of conveying information
to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
Understanding the history
The Manifesto for Agile Software Development was created in 2001. The first commercially available live video conferencing application for desktops was Skype; it was first released in 2003, two years after agile.
Even after its release, many people did not have the internet at home, and few businesses were on the internet. The first main change to internet access was when ADSL was introduced in 2000. Most telcos did not have it, and for those that did, it was costly at the time.
Communication was different back then when it came to software teams, oops - departments. The primary form of communication was through printed specification documents. I recall the reams of paper used to print your specification documents. Worst of all, it took days to prepare and bind twenty copies of your 200-page document using a slow printer.
In the more tech-savvy organizations, email became popular, but due to low bandwidth, internet connections were slow and barely enough for email. I recall working with Microsoft Exchange Server; the most significant issue was with your internet email connectors. Larger organizations had their Wide-Area-Network infrastructure to connect branches, and internet email was slow. Bandwidth was at a premium price, and video conferencing was a luxury that only the rich could have.
Teleconferencing was available, but you had to create documents and send them by email or post them prior. There was always that one person that never received a copy.
You had to fly around the world or drive long distances for essential meetings. It was very different back then as compared to what we have today.
Face-to-face meant something different in the day
Back then, the only way to engage with someone else was physically in the same room, i.e. face to face. If you had suggested video conferencing in those times, you would have been seen as delusional as it was not around. Words like live, online, and in-person would have been joked at; "What do you mean to live? I cannot speak to you if you are dead?!?" Or "How else can we meet but in person?" or even "Online, do you mean on the telephone line?"
Face-to-face was about people interacting and talking together, not communicating by sending emails and documents. They were horrible then and are still today.
Today the world is different. Video conferencing is part of all our lives, especially after the global covid pandemic. Lockdowns forced people to work from home. Today, face-to-face has a new meaning to many; they see it as physically in the same room. But it was not like that when writing the Manifesto for agile software development.
Does it make a difference?
To be transparent, if you had asked me before covid, I would have given you opinions on how in-person is better. Having been forced through the big lockdowns, especially living in the city with the most lockdowns. I never found video conferencing to hamper engagement. Quite the opposite, I find it more effective and quicker:
I don't have to fight trying to get a meeting room.
I don't have to leave my desk 10 minutes before to fight to wait for elevators or walk to another building.
I don't have to hang around waiting for the previous meeting that has overrun to finish.
I find there is less chit-chat taking up 30% of the time; instead, we jump straight into the conversation.
It's convenient to quickly pop onto a video call and have a 5 min chat.
I don't have to take a day's leave and can continue working when a tradesperson is coming to fix something at my home.
Face-to-face does not mean in person. It simply means having interactive conversations together. Understand the history and change of meaning of the phrase face-to-face and see it more about people engaging and talking. It still works and is equally effective.
Cheekily, I would argue it is even more face-to-face, as all you see are faces 😅
Thanks for reading! Subscribe for free to receive new posts. It helps a small business out.