Looking for Stories of Success with Follow-the-Sun

Mark Kilby and I are almost done with the chapter on geographically dispersed teams with no (or very few) hours of overlap in our book about distributed agile teams.

We are looking for any example of a team—agile or not—who successfully used/is using Follow the Sun.

Follow the Sun is a great idea. The idea is that one person on the team would start to work on this piece of work. They pass it to the next person, and so on and so on.

Follow the Sun is different from Around the Clock. Around the Clock is coverage. We see call centers who use Around the Clock and it works. It often works because either the people work independently or the shifts have some form of handoff.

Follow the Sun is for product development. You're supposed to be able to create a product (piece of a product) with people all over the world with no (or few) hours of time zone overlap.

We are looking for any example of teams who used Follow the Sun where it worked. Neither of us have seen a team be able to use FTS in any way, never mind an agile way. (That's because software is about learning and we don't see FTS teams being able to learn about the product and with each other.)

If you have participated on a project that used Follow the Sun successfully, and you have these constraints:

  • The team members all had under four hours of overlap time with each other. (We're not talking about a team with at least four hours of time overlap. FTS is specifically for globally dispersed teams where the team members have no overlap or maybe one hour of overlap.
  • The team members tried to collaborate. That is, one team member did not dictate to the rest what to do or how to work.
  • If you tried to use any sort of an agile approach with fewer than four hours of overlap.

We only know of teams where the work circled the globe several times to complete. Or, where the team approached devolved into some form of waterfall often with a “leader” who was much more of a “chief enforcer.”

We have no stories of a team with no hours of overlap who felt successful. (Yes, many of these teams created products, and the people did not feel as if FTS helped them.)

We would love to find a story of a distributed/dispersed team who was successful with FTS.

If you feel comfortable sharing your story in the comments, great. If you prefer to send email, that's great, too. Thank you.

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