This week, Kupe and I discussed one of the major assumptions that people have about agile: that you have to be co-located in order to be an agile team. We dove into the pros and cons of being co-located and working in a remote agile team, along with the impact of location in each scenario.

Episode 27 | #AskAnAnalyst Takeaways

  1. Ideally, it would be awesome if everybody was in the same room, having these side conversations, and learning. It’s easier to post stuff on a wall that everybody can see. On the flip-side, there are so many affordable tools that enable remote workers to be an effective part of the team. In many ways, hiring remote workers is the best way to get the best people on your team. Businesses should value productivity and employee happiness over just having everyone in the office and co-located.
  2. Being co-located is like being in a long-distance relationship. It comes down to putting in the right level of effort. In order to make it work, you have to overcommunicate; you have to plan ahead. You might have to spend a little more money. You have to be dedicated and have the right mindset of wanting to make it work (because it can work). At the end of the day, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
  3. The idea that you have to be co-located in order to be an agile team is false. On the other hand, just because you’re co-located, do you think it’s going to work out? But if you have high-performing team members with everybody remote and around the world, I bet you a lot of great stuff can be done. It’s not colocation vs. remote. It’s having the best people on your team, focusing on getting high-performing team members, and getting people with the capabilities the team needs.
  4. If you really value what agile brings to the table and you value creative solutions, it might mean spending money on extra tools, adjustments, or incentives. You want fast and cheap? Having both at the same time isn’t optional, especially in a sustainable environment.
  5. My message is for people to be constantly open about different ways of doing things. The way you’re doing your job today isn’t the way it’s going to be done even a month from now — that’s how fast it’s happening. One, two, three years from now, your job is not going to be the same. If you stay rigid, then you will make yourself obsolete.

March 23, 2017 Business Analysis Podcast Transcript

Jacqueline: Hello. This is Jacqueline-Sanders Blackman here with Technology Expresso for another episode of #AskAnAnalyst with Kupe Kupersmith. Hello Kupe! How are you doing?

Kupe: I’m doing good. Doing awesome. We’re both here in Atlanta this week, and it’s gorgeous. The spring is here, and with it came the pollen. We’re covered in yellow. It’s awesome.

Jacqueline: Exactly. We’re turning the corner. We got through January and February. What I see and hear as I talk to people in the BA community is the projects are full swing. Lots of chatter about projects. A lot of what we’re hearing in the community, too, is agile and agile transformation. There are a couple different things that we keep coming back to, some key topics. We’re not afraid to tackle the tough topics, so I want to put some of those on the table, and let us talk through them. A lot of people from agile’s perspective, when it was first introduced, the word co-located was synonymous with agile. You had to be co-located and have face-to-face conversations. I’ve heard all of those things, and that’s the way it was introduced to me as well.

I’ll be honest: from the very beginning, I can’t remember a project where, in some form or fashion, we had offshore or outsourced portions of our software and software development. The crazy thing, Kupe, is just as agile was blossoming, at the same time, there was a lot of talk about working from home, working remote, and getting the right resources no matter where they were located. It was all about getting the right team members. It’s like these two changes within software development went on simultaneously, and now the question is, can they work together? Does one undermine the other? What is your perspective about co-location vs. work from home?

Kupe: Yeah. I’m a big believer in remote working, so just in general, I think it’s a way to get the best people that you need for your initiatives. These days, we connect via so many different pools and mediums that it’s OK to be remote; it’s easier to be remote. Like you said, early on a lot of people thought, “Agile is co-location.” I would hope a lot of the people out there don’t think that you can’t be agile unless everybody is working in the same room. It’s doable. Hopefully more people are OK with that. Can you not be agile if you use offshore resources? Then, I would think 90% of the companies today, the large organizations, are not doing agile. I think it just adds an extra twist.

Yes, it would be awesome if everybody was in the same room and having conversations. For us in the training world, we can do virtual training excellent; it’s high value and it’s great, but there’s something about on-site training and all of the little conversations that go on outside the normal hours of training. It’s the same thing on teams. It’s great if everybody could be together because there’s all these side conversations and learning, and it’s easier to post stuff on the wall that everybody can see.

On the flip-side, the technology is there. I can rattle off a whole bunch of tools from the chat world like Slack and Jive. Jive combines a whole slew of things, like Google Hangout, Slack, and a couple of others all in one. They’re fairly cheap. Jive is $9 a month per seat. If you have 10 people on your team and they’re all in different areas, you can get the tool Jive and collaborate online and face-to-face via video for $90 a month. That’s $1080 a year. That’s not a lot of money. I think it can be done, and I promote it. It’s the best way to get the best people on your team.

Jacqueline: Exactly. One of the analogies I use is think about, just in life, long-distance relationships. Everybody can resonate with that. Can they be successful? Absolutely. There are several stories out there of people starting out in long-distance relationships. Pilots and their wives, that’s a long-distance relationship, but they make it work. It takes a little bit of extra effort. It’s different from your typical relationship where you may live in the same city and town. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. When students come to the class and say, “We’re not all co-located. We can never do agile,” the first thing I put out there is long-distance relationships.

There has been many that has failed, but some of that is all about your willingness in wanting to make it work. I often say you have to over-communicate, because they’re not there in the moment. For you to relate to them the given context of how a decision came about, you might have to step back and re-walk through some of the discussions and the pros and cons to how you got to a decision or a conclusion so that they can process it the same way you all processed it instead of going at them like, “Well, the team has decided, and if you weren’t there, too bad.” You have to see value in them and at least allow them to ask some of the same questions. There may be some overlap, but that’s the extra effort.

People that are remote have to feel like they’re valued and they’re equaled and not that stuff is being thrown over the wall to them. That’s something I’ve often seen. Even if the separation is by timezone, you have to find the right way to share. There was one occasion where we videotaped ourselves, especially if there was some crucial white-boarding going on. We’d have to send those whiteboard tapes over to them and make it available to them. Management was thinking, “You all are sending part of the stories over to them so when they walk in the door, they can start working on those stories.”

Well, we said, “They need to spend their first hour reviewing those tapes, looking at the emails, and going over the updated notes.” We needed them to have their bringing-themselves-up-to-speed time, so our velocity needed to be adjusted so that it wasn’t just them coming in, grabbing a story, and work, work, work. We had to give them time to review and acclimate themselves. It made a world of difference. It helped with the quality of the stories, but it also helped with their morale and them feeling like they were connected to these people that were in a whole different timezone. You can make it happen if you really want to.

Kupe: Yeah. I think it comes down to putting in the right level of effort. I’ll use your analogy. A long-distance relationship is going to work if everybody feels like they’re connected. If you’re dating somebody and there’s a long-distance relationship, well, if you don’t check in with them for four days, that’s going to make the other side of the relationship nervous. Like, “What’s going on? We were talking everyday and now it has been four days. What’s happening?” That can happen in a close relationship, too. You have to put the effort in. My key lesson is you have to act like you are there together.

What happens with remoteness is, let’s say there’s just one person that’s remote. If you have one person that’s remote, the rest of the group together has to make sure that person is included, and that person needs to make sure everybody else on the team knows they’re there. That’s where you can use these different tools. Within B2T we use Sococo, which is another great tool. You can see when people are in their office, when they’re working, when they’re talking to somebody else. It makes ease of communication really easy. You have to act like that.

What happens and what happened in the past when remote working started getting more popular, people would use it as a way to run errands. “Well, I’m going to work from home today because I have a doctor’s appointment.” They were doing other stuff and nobody was checking in. My neighbor actually does that. They don’t have a real work-from-home policy. She’ll work remote if she has to do something with her kids. Then, I see her outside hanging out and I’m like, “Oh, I thought you were working today.” She’s like, “Yeah, I’m kind of working.” But, I think that’s the attitude that gets people saying, “We can’t do that.”

If you’re working on a team, if you’re all together and everybody comes into the office, I know I can grab you and have a conversation. Well, you have to set up the environment so it’s the same exact thing, so that it feels like everybody is there. I’ve seen two groups work where they had video technology. One group was in one room, let’s say an office in Atlanta, another group was in Dallas in their office, and they have the video and audio on all day long. If I was in Atlanta and you’re in Dallas, I can be like, “Hey, Jacqueline. You got a second?” And you can see me and respond to me. Those are the types of things that you have to do. When everybody’s together, everybody’s checking in with each other and you can see what’s happening with everybody whereas in the virtual world, you have to check in with folks.

Before you said it I was thinking of the situations where you have vastly different time zones. One group is finishing their day and another group is starting their day. You have to plan those hand-offs so everybody is successful. I love that you guys did a video saying, “Hey, here’s how the day went. This is what we came up with. This is what we were thinking. Now, here are the stories you can work on.” You have to do a better job with that. Some people might say it’s wasting time, but when you think about it, your team is actually working 24/7 and around-the-clock. The fact that you’re taking 30 minutes to create this short video, jotting stuff down, or taking pictures of stuff on the wall and emailing it to people, it might take you an extra 30 minutes but the productivity of the team is going around-the-clock so it’s worth it.

Jacqueline: Absolutely. I posted the question out to our audience via Twitter and LinkedIn and asked them their thoughts about agile being remote. Some people, I like their attitude, said anything is possible. Kupe and I are talking through some of those creative ways. Kupe, it goes back to having the right attitude and mindset and wanting it to work. Sometimes I think the biggest roadblock is people that use these things as an excuse that “because we’re not co-located, we can’t do agile.” You want to discount it because of this one logistics thing.

It goes back to the long-distance relationship. If it’s worth it, where there’s a will there’s a way. I’ll give you an example that comes up from time to time in class. A student will talk about how they’re in very different time zones and they only have this hour window to talk to each other. It’s like, is that true or is that the constraint you put on it? Because I’ve done it two different ways.

We found out that the crew in India, they were up at our times of 11-11:30. I asked for a volunteer, and someone on the team was willing to do that 11:30 call so we could convey to them what had happened during the day. We did that in exchange for her having some flexibility in her schedule so she could still get up and be on our 8:30 or so call on our time. It allowed her to convey to us what she had heard during their day. She ended her day early at around three, which freed her up to, like your neighbor who is maybe just picking her kids up at the school bus and want to hang out with the kids for an extra couple of hours. By the time you put them to bed and jump on the 11:30 call, that was the second segment of your day.

She was more than happy to do it, and it did so much for bridging the team. They really felt like she was part of their team when they were staying up, and she was also there for what we did throughout the day. She was a BA, so that’s another way of leveraging the BA as a liaison between two different ships and helping to facilitate communication. You can redefine things. Sometimes people say, “We can’t, and here’s the reason why.” Really? Have you made that a false roadblock, and did you even question the roadblock itself?

Kupe: Yeah. There’s really nothing to add. The only thing I’ll jump on is, and I don’t know if your coworker was millennial or not; I’m not an expert on understanding the generation. One thing I do know is millennials who are coming into our workforce in full force, a big thing for them is flexibility, autonomy, and the ability to do things like that where they don’t have to check in 9-to-5. That’s a perfect example of how the younger workforce want to work and is open to doing that. Them coming up with ideas for remoteness is great.

There might be a remote worker that’s a millennial and that wants to work remotely. Maybe they want to live near the beach and that’s what they do in their social time. Why do I have to move to Atlanta to be on the team? I want to live in Savannah or Panama City Beach. They can go out to the beach during lunch and in the evenings to hang out with their friends. Work from wherever they need to. It’s funny because work has been happening for a long time with remote people. Maybe you weren’t always in the same company, but didn’t you have people that you would work with over time? You would do it remotely and you would figure out how to make it work.

Then there was the whole thing with agile saying we had to be co-located. The Yahoo CEO a few years back pushed for everybody needing to be in the office, which failed. I just don’t think that’s a way a lot of people want to work. You can do it; don’t tell me you can’t. If you have great people on your team, that’s what agile teams are about. You can have the bad team members. Just because you’re co-located, do you think it’s going to work out? But if you have high-performing team members with everybody remote and around the world, I bet you a lot of great stuff can be done. It’s not co-location vs. remote. It’s having the best people on your team, focusing on getting high-performing team members, and getting people with the capabilities the team needs.

Jacqueline: Absolutely. It’s so funny that you say you can be co-located without being a high-performing, optimized team. On top of that, you may not even be communicating. I can remember one time they sent a team out to agile training, and when they came back, everybody went back to their cubicles and sent emails to each other. They just continued business as usual. I mean, we might be sitting across the aisle, but if I want to say something, there was a mentality that, “I have to document what I say because we’ll always have that to go back and point to.” There was no hollering across the aisle or talking to each other. You documented, typed up, and sent reminders.

It was like they missed the point of being co-located, and they still had their old habits. So much of agile is that attitude, that mindset. If you really, again, are thinking about your team members, reaching out to them, you can break down that wall, whether it’s a physical wall or a wall of separation via miles and countries. You also can have walls and still be co-located together. There’s so much about agile that you really have to talk about: team, culture, behaviors.

Another example is I remember a lady would come in and work long hours. Long after everybody left, she would stay there. She got all these accolades for being a hard worker, but I would stay late, too. I was the new kid; I was still trying to learn things, so I always wanted to stay around and do a little extra hours. Everybody else cleared out, and she would be there. I can remember walking by and at a glance, I saw everything from her balancing her checkbook to shopping and catalogs. It was just the illusion of work. Just because someone’s physically in the location, or you come into the office and everybody spends the first 90 minutes just chit-chatting and catching up. You’re at your desk and people want to stop by and socialize. When I worked at home, when I woke up, it was go-time.

Kupe: I think you get more productivity. People have to get used to working for home. It doesn’t work for everybody. People need the motivation of everybody else around them to get work done. For me, I’m a work-remote guy, and I can get a lot of work done. People know that in the Atlanta area, traffic is out of control like it is in a lot of large cities. Going from where I live to Alpharetta would take 90 minutes there and back. That’s 3 hours of my day. I’m not getting in until 9, I leave at 5:30, I’m not home until 7.

I wake up at like 4 in the morning, and I get work done before 8:00 a.m.. I drop my daughter off around 8 then I’m back at it. I’ve already gotten about 2 hours of work done before 9:00 where before, I was just sitting in the car. To me, it’s about productivity and good teams. The Agile Manifesto talks about valuing one thing over another, and I think that’s what people should value more in this case. They should value productivity and employee happiness over just having everyone in the office and co-located.

Jacqueline: Exactly. That brings up another point. Sometimes when I say this, people are taken aback. If you really value what agile brings to the table and value creative solutions, it might mean putting some money out for, like you said, extra tools you have to get, some adjustments, or incentives if you need people to adjust their schedules and do things a little bit differently. It can work, but what I often say is agile can be expensive. Nobody said it was cheap. You want fast, but fast may cost you. I know people think that’s crazy, but we’ve been saying this for years. You have to pick one or the other.

You want fast and cheap? They’re juxtaposed, especially in a sustainable environment. You get used to pushing people and having them make exceptions, but then you also want to talk about work-life balance. If you want to set up agile, the reality is, in order to get the best of the talents and to get the right people wherever they’re located, then you have to put some infrastructure and components in place that will make it feasible, sustainable, and not burn out those people. You want to do it on the cheap? No, maybe it can’t be done, but if you want to really look at all the different options and don’t mind spending money to do it right.

Recording whole meetings or recording people as they’re working, that costs money. To record, send it over, adjust the velocity in order for them to have some time to, in some cases, relive some of our big workshop sessions so that they can see all the interactions and decisions we made. One of our BA’s at certain points would work a whole night shift with the other group. They slept by day and at night they got on and did that third shift because with the testing they were doing, they really needed to work together to crank through the accepted criteria and answer those questions real-time. He did it for the team, and we compensated him in order to do that. Vice versa: we had some people on the Indian team who worked during our work hours.

If you want to do it but you don’t want to change, adjust, or invest to make it work, if you put up all these constraints, then you are making it impossible to try something different. I’m going to go back to that long-distance relationship. When you’re in that long-distance relationship, you guys have to decide, “OK, every three weekends I’m going to come to your location, you’re going to come to my location.” I’ve heard couples who negotiated that out to make that work. It was more expensive than a relationship of the guy next door, but if you have the right person for you and you want to make it work, where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s the one thing I keep reiterating.

Kupe: Yeah. There was something related to fast. Agile is not about getting things out the door fast. Full-feature to full-feature kind of comparison; if you do apples to apples. Like, if we’re going to do these 10 features, and we’re going to one in an agile manner and one in a waterfall manner. I don’t know what the advancements in coding have been. Can developers code faster? Maybe, but then they would be able to do that with waterfall.

The fast piece is that we get something out the door quickly so that we can learn from it and make sure we’re headed down the right path. Then, we keep going, learn again, and do it again. Yes, things get out the door in waterfall, but then it’s like half of those things weren’t needed or things have changed so drastically. Either way, it takes six months to getting something done, but it’s just that you’re learning faster, you’re adapting, and you’re adjusting. That’s the key. And then you can even stop before you have to go.

That goes back to the question of value. It allows you to focus on the most valuable things today. That’s what teams have to decide when it comes to remote workers: what’s the value of us all being together, or is it more valuable to have resources in India, Ireland, the US, and the UK? That may be of more value if you have the right people; now you have to figure out how to make it work. I go back to what I was saying in the beginning. We’re so far past the days of our own way to communicate via phone, fax, or even email. Those three things are like old-school communication tools, now.

There’s so much communication that can happen with different applications out there; they allow you to feel like you’re together and more connected, and they’re not that expensive. There’s so many that the price point is at a good place. As you’re comparing costs, how much does office space cost compared to buying licenses of Jive? Everybody’s at their house, and now everybody’s writing off a section of their house because they’re working remotely. It’s a lot cheaper to give everybody a laptop, an extra screen, and a printer at their house. Most people, at least in the United States, in the work we do probably have good broadband internet. All of these things are set up. It’s not an issue.

It might be an issue on the security side; the security people might be swearing at me right now, saying, “No, close it down.” It’s so much harder when people are remote, but IT security just has to keep up with the times and adapt. They’re doing that constantly because there are new breaches happening all of the time. It’s a moving target for them. Can remoteness work? Absolutely. There’s a little forethought that you can put into it, but these days, I don’t think there’s that much forethought. It’s not that major of an initiative.

Jacqueline: Exactly. Like you said about fastness, it’s kind of a dirty word around agile. I can remember when an executive director said to me, “You know what, this is agile. I thought it was going to be faster, but it’s no faster than waterfall.” He was so sincere and so frustrated, and it was interesting because I think they had only been doing it for 6 months. I’m just thinking, “Really?” You think you’re really going to see a difference in 6 months? It hasn’t even settled in good. At the same time, help me understand: faster than what? What are you comparing it to? You’re going through a big and complex project, but you’ve never done this project before.

You can’t say, “I’m going to do this big transformation,” and think it should only take nine months. That’s based on what? I said, “Some of those waterfall projects that were fast, it was fast and you built the right things. Is that what you’re saying?” And he said, “Well actually, no. That’s one of the systems I’m replacing because we didn’t build it right.” I’m like, “So, what did fast get you?” He totally backed down and said, “I didn’t think about that.” I feel like some people fall back into the good old days, like, “It was so great back then.”

People do that sometimes with agile, and they want it to be that silver bullet. They want it to be fast, lean, and everything, and they want to spend the same amount of money. That’s something that management has to embrace as well. Instead of this type of infrastructure to make it sustainable, what other pieces need to be in place so that you can reach the benefits of what agile has to offer? It’s like not wanting to make the investment but wanting to have 100% of the benefits. I talk to people about that.

The funniest one we often talk about is that from day one, they want lean documentation, but they haven’t set up any of the other pieces. You’ll be surprised about how many people, when I tell them the real requirements are centered around acceptance criteria and the story is just a placeholder, say they’ve been doing agile for five years, seven years. They’re just totally deer in the headlights when I say the story isn’t actually the requirements but the placeholder. You have to have the conversation, you have to refine the story, and you have to follow the acceptance criteria.

You can form them, but you still have to get to that level before the story is ready to go out, and you have to start having the design and development questions. People just want to have those surface conversations and do that surface learning. I literally heard a team whose manager told them to go out and watch a YouTube video, which they called implementing agile. You want all the benefits, but you think a YouTube video is all that there is to you going into lean documentation and this better way of developing your software and value management. If it’s too good to be true, then you have to ask yourself, “What else do I need to know?” Be realistic about what you have to invest to get those expectations.

Kupe: Yeah. You reminded me of a scenario. There was a team I was working on, and they weren’t agile at the time but it’s kind of the same mindset. It was the head of development. The group was broken into PM/BA group, development group, and QA group. All the teams were meeting about how do we become more efficient. The development leader said, “We need leaner documentation. I suggest we have the maximum length of our requirements document to be 40 pages.” I thought that was hilarious. Why 40 pages? Where does that come from? I said, “What if, depending on the initiative, you need 100 pages?”

I don’t think we should talk about page numbers, but I think we should talk about the value of the content that’s going in. Is it consumable? How does it get organized? Having the conversation about the stuff and not just randomly saying no matter what initiative we’re on, the maximum pages. It just seemed like a random comment, and it goes to what you were saying about lean documentation and the stories. That’s what people think: “We don’t have to do all this now. We’re just going to have stories.” Well, you can. You can do that, but are you having the right conversation around those stories? Are you filling in the blanks? Then, that’s OK.

It’s not like a story gets written and then poof, everybody’s on the same page and knows exactly what to do. You and I are on the same page, here, and a lot of other people are as well. It’s the mindset, the approach, and thinking about why you’re doing one thing over another, what’s needed, what’s going to help, and how we’re going to do it better rather than taking these “best practices” and just implementing them without thinking. What do we have to put in place to make that happen? You can’t just snap your fingers and “poof,” it’s done.

Jacqueline: Exactly. I’ve looked back at the relationship between IT and business for a long time. I usually joke and say we have a love-hate relationship. We started out where the focus was business and IT was just supporting business in the background. Then, we matured and our relationship changed. IT became a strategic partner in a lot of scenarios. It changed the way we talked to each other, and there was a new level of respect. Sometimes we had to earn that respect, and sometimes we were still trying to work out the kinks. Even now where IT is actually driving a lot of the strategic direction, and now we’re bringing the product owners to be a part of the agile teams.

I also see that there has been some carry-over from the relationship we had with offshore resources. When we first started this relationship, you had your primary key-in that might be on-shore and then off-shore. They were the ones to do the work and deliver the package, but they never were part of the team. People have been getting used to that they’re now part of the team, and so they have that same level of conversation, inclusion, buy-in, and opportunity to get feedback. Just looking at people differently and understanding their relationship has changed. The relationship we had with offshore resources 10-15 years ago is now a new type. This really just shakes me up and all of your assumptions.

Something I often say: not bringing your waterfall bad habits over to agile because you will sabotage it. That’s why someone has to call it out or point it out because it can carry over. This is just one of the areas that people come into, whether it’s classes or just in our various conversations about agile. They’re really still struggling with the topic, but I think you and I have both been given more than enough examples where if you’re open-minded, flexible, and this is something you want to make work, you could make it work. What the real issue is, where is your mindset? Are you stuck? That’s what we need to put on the table.

If you get down to the root cause, it’s not that it can’t be done. It’s what you are willing to do and give to make it happen. Those are some of the conversations that you have to confront and not let fester for a successful agile environment. Is there anything else you want to point out?

Kupe: Yeah. I thought of disruption in general. The speed of disruption today is getting faster and faster and more successful. My message is for people to be constantly open about different ways of doing things. If you think the way you’re doing your job today is the way it’s going to be done even a month from now — that’s how fast it’s happening. One, two, three years from now, your job is not going to be the same. You can’t sit there and be like, “Oh, that’s not going to work. It can’t happen.” Well, if someone’s bringing it up and trying it, if you get people with the right attitude, it’s going to happen. They’re going to figure it out.

It’s like taxicab drivers, Lyfts, and Uber. Maybe it started off with the taxicab drivers saying none of these rideshare companies would work, but somebody’s going to tweak it to a point where it starts to make sense for the consumer, us, who needs a ride somewhere and the person driving. Then all of a sudden, the old way of getting around, taxicabs, are falling by the wayside. It’s the same thing, here. People are going to try different things. It’s easy, now. It’s so simple for us to communicate with people across and around the world.

To think that, “Oh, man. There’s no way my job is going to be offshored,” or, “You can’t offshore the BA job.” Well one, it’s already happening. Two, there are BA’s working in Atlanta that are working for companies in California, so the BA’s in California just lost out their job to a remote worker in Atlanta. It’s already happening, and I think everybody has to jump on board and get excited. To me, it’s exciting because it opens up new opportunities. You could be working for a company in New Zealand and live in San Francisco. I think that’s pretty cool rather than thinking of it as somebody taking my job. Well, now you have the opportunity to work wherever you want.

Jacqueline: Exactly. And you’re so spot on about the disruptions. People really have to get comfortable with disruption. Anything is possible. I was just recently helping to promote a virtual job fair because it was all job listings that could be worked from any location. They were in various remote locations, and they needed certain types of workers that they weren’t able to find locally. The whole job fair was about uploading your resume, and then on a certain day, they would do a live, on-camera interview with people to screen them for these job opportunities. That’s what it’s about. If you want to stay rigid, and any generation that has changed over the years, if you stay rigid then you will make yourself obsolete. You’re going to be that dinosaur. It just all goes back to getting your head into this.

Kupe: It’s happening. It’s happening people. It’s up to you whether you want to accept it or not. In the end, I think it comes down to two major things that people, especially in the BA space, need to focus on. One is getting better with these remote tools. Even if a large part of your team is together but a few are not in your building as well as some people you need to get information from, you have to be working remotely all the time. The other thing is technically, the pieces of our role will get more and more automated.

I actually envision a product owner talking to Alexa or Google Home and telling a story to Google Home, and all of a sudden, Google Home pops out 50 backlog items that the team can start using. I think there are certain things that are going to be automated as we go further down the line, so it’s more important for people in our space to be thinking about the changes, relationships, and softer skills like negotiation and conflict resolution over more technical stuff like writing user stories.

Jacqueline: Absolutely. Like you said, it should be exciting. For me, that has always been the thing that kept me engaged in IT, because it was always changing. There was always something next. Those who are ready to see what’s around the corner, hang in there, because it’s like you said: the train is moving out and moving fast. I understand people’s frustration, but there are some real answers out there. We hear you, and we want to help you have those breakthroughs and successes. Thank you, Kupe. Thanks everyone!

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