Posted on by Steven Savage

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Agile principle #6 is a simple and sweet one about communications.  It needs no embellishment:

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

This is obvious.  If you want to get the most done, effectively, talk to a person directly.  I could probably stop here and you and I have easily discussed 70% of the value of this Principle.

Obviously I’m not done – and we’re talking Agile and Agile Creativity, so there’s some subtleties to go into.  So I’d like to discuss this principle in a bit more detail, and focused on creative work.  This probably would be faster if we were face-to-face, so revel in the irony.

Good communication is vital to all work – creativity moreso.

It’s obvious that you get more done productively if you actually go and talk to people, and in-person conversations convey a lot of information effectively.   In-person you can judge gestures, expressions, voice pitch and more.  In-person you sync-up with people better.

When you communicate effectively, you say more, hear more, and can work effectively.  You can adapt better because you’re actually talking to someone directly and saying so much more.  I’ve seen team behavior change and become more productive when face-to-face activities are introduced.

In creative works are challenging to communicate because they involve everything from intuitive interpretation to understanding complex emotions.  This makes face-to-face or similar far more important because there’s just a lot to convey.  So if you have to collaborate creatively, get talking face to face

(As you may guess, I accept we can’t always get face-to-face, which means) . . .

Face-to-face isn’t always possible, so make due

Communicating with people on your team face-to-face sounds great.  It’s also probably impossible at many times due to location, travel, mutual loathing, and what have you.  So what do you do?  You find the closest-way to face-to-face in order to interact.  This could mean:

  • Video conferences (with sharing)
  • Chat programs (of course)
  • Phone conferences.
  • Meeting face-to-face when you can and packing in all the communication you can do.

You do what you can.  This may mean when it comes to creative works, you have to get pretty innovative.  You may do things like sending people videos and following up with online chat, and it may not be face-to-face, but it’ll be as close as you can get.

Is this somehow violating the ideal?  No, because . . .

Face To face is the most efficient and effective method – not the only one.

This Principle is a recommendation and a statement of truth – face to face is the best way to communicate within your team.  It’s not the only one, it’s just the best.  Agile isn’t big on hard rules and structures.

But sometimes the best is not available, so you do what you can.  Don’t fret, don’t beat yourself up over it.  Just do what you can.

A quick thought for solo creatives.

Does this matter to the solo creative?  Actually, hidden within this Principle are two important lessons:

  • You may be solo, but changes are you still are depending on other people for some things.  Delivering supplies.  Providing editorial services.  Etc.  Face-to-face still applies to these “team-like” connections.
  • Are you taking time to really communicate with yourself?  Analyze results, do research, consider where you’re going?  You might not be – learn to pay attention to yourself.

A moment for review

This simple principle is pretty easy to review:

  • Face-to-face is the best way to communicate with your team members.
  • If Face-to-Face isn’t possible, learn the best alternatives.
  • Even when solo, practice good communications techniques and take the time to self-reflect.

Simple one there.  Good, because the next Principle seems simple – but has a lot of depth.  In a way it’s a core to a lot of Agile thought . . .

– Steve

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