Management by wandering around in the cloud?

I first heard “Management by wandering around” years ago when I read this article about the Microsoft Windows 2000 team:

“Decisions in 10 minutes or less, or the next one is free.” He wandered the halls and asked people, “What is a decision? It’s a tool to remove confusion! Are you confused? If so, then make the decision and let’s move on!”

I use to practice this as a System Administrator armed with coffee and strolling around desks of colleagues in order to find out what goes wrong and they are reluctant to communicate via any other means than coffee. It also makes your users understand that you care. And helps them relieve some pressure off when you made urgent changes that you did not have time to communicate. Most importantly you remove obstacles from their work when they are present. So I walk around offices with a coffee mug. Which raises the question:

– Now that teams become more and more decentralised, even small ones, and operating from different time zones, what is the equivalent of walking around management? Both for project and systems managers?

Skype calls and hangouts are good for scheduled events but do not quite help the same way as wandering around and solving problems for others.

I am open to ideas.

3 thoughts on “Management by wandering around in the cloud?

  1. I work with a small, distributed team of programmers (ok, we don’t have really divergent time zones). A big part of my work is what you describe here. We use IRC. IRC is the best option for programmers, as there’s always a terminal open anyway. We’re also used to it, since it’s been around so long.

    We have a mailing list for longer communications. We meet for a week once or twice a year. We rarely call on the phone. But in daily business IRC is the ticket.

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