"To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others."
What is Osmotic Communication?
Osmotic Communication is a term coined by Alistair Cockburn and the definition is: "Osmotic communication means that information flows into the background hearing of members of the team, so that they pick up relevant information as though by osmosis. This is normally accomplished by seating them in the same room. Then, when one person asks a question, others in the room can either tune in or tune out, contributing to the discussion or continuing with their work".
What is a NearShore Team?
A NearShore team provides services to the client from a country, which is having proximity in terms of time zone and geographic location to the client's country. A virtual team provides quality services to the client by overlapping for more time with the client by working in a similar time zone, collaborating in realtime.
How Osmotic Communication Works For NearShore Team?
In my earlier post Active Listening Is Key For A Successful Delivery, I had shared how in Agile, requirements and solutions evolve through communication and collaboration between self-organizing and cross-functional teams. Also in another post Everyone's Perspective Is Key In Retrospectives, I shared how the best teamwork comes from the team members who are working independently but toward one goal in unison and working in an environment where everyone’s perspective is encouraged, heard and respected.
Looking at the above illustration, it's understandable that NearShore team cannot have the benefits of a face-face white boarding or in person conversations, but now with robust communication mediums including tools available, the communication gaps are shortened. Below are examples of few collaboration tools, which bridges the communication gaps working with virtual teams.
Using the advantages of NearShore time zone proximity, virtual team works realtime with onsite client team and using collaboration tools like Skype for communication. For instance, group chats in Skype provide the perfect opportunity for the client teams and virtual teams to have a real-time discussion and Osmotic communication becomes possible with the inputs shared by random team members instead of relying on 1:1 communication. It does not work in all situations, but group chats go a long way in facilitating Osmotic communication in which a Scrum Master or a Product Owner could be seeking an answer from a developer. A QA member could then chip in, if the person has the same or better understanding. Another major advantage of group chat is archiving of the communication for future reference, which is something that is not possible for a collected team.
Osmotic communication keeps the cost of communications low while keeping the feedback rate high. This in turn, helps keep the overall cost of quality low while working with the NearShore team. It's evident for the client that the requirements are disseminated faster and errors are corrected quickly. A strong delivery management best practices and frequent face-time with the client, NearShore virtual teams can take advantage of Osmotic communication.
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