Tag Archives: Team topologies

Review Remote Team Interactions Workbook

The book Remote Team Interactions Workbook – Using Team Topologies Patterns for Remote Working written by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais explores several aspects of team-first remote work including highlighting poor team interactions, the usage of the team-API pattern to define and communicate the focus of teams, to remove team-level dependencies, to design inter-team communications and make use of the three team interaction modes from Team Topologies to help.

The book is divided in five chapters. The first chapter gives an overview of the mindset and skills you and your organisation will need to succeed in a remote-first world. The following chapters each describe techniques to track and manage inter-team relationships, to maintain high trust within teams and groups and to make the team interactions more purposeful. The final chapter focusses on some next steps to increase maturity of your remote team interactions.

The first chapter explores some of the techniques that can help organizations adopt an effective remote-first approach. But without good psychological safety and an effective set of “ground rules” and practices for teams for working together, the techniques will not help. Some of the discussed techniques are:

  • Cognitive load assessment
  • Use the team API approach to define and communicate responsibilities and team focus
  • Track dependencies using simple tools and remove blocking dependencies
  • Over-communicate using just enough written documentation.

The second chapter explores techniques to track and manage inter-team dependencies that work in a remote context. Starting point is the team API including the roadmap for  upcoming work as well as communication preferences (channels, time slots, response times). Besides an example you can download a Team API template. Tracking dependencies can be used to assess how dependencies should change (reduce, eliminate blocking ones, …). Final topic in this chapter is about building networks by using coffee, talks, CoPs, guilds and internal conferences.

The next chapter provides some techniques for maintaining high trust within teams and groups in a remote-first world based on group size. How much trust can exist within groupings od a certain size? The anthropologist Robin Dunbar found that the size of physical and online social networks where people can have meaningful relationships is in the order of 150 people. Dunbar sees the following trust boundaries: 5, 15, 5,0, 150 and 500 people. For online spaces (chat tools, documentation tools) these trust boundaries are applicable too. Make sure that each online space grouping should have people with a shared focus on a related flow of change. When using chat tools agree on team-focussed conventions (e.g., channel names).

Chapter four explains some techniques to help make the team interactions more purposeful (whether remote or in person), including detecting ineffective team interaction modes (collaboration, X-as-a-service, facilitating). To be effective, it is essential for the purpose and channel of any communication to be clear and obvious (team-specific channels, community channels, topic channels).

The final chapter gives some suggestions for further activities and patterns to make remote-first, team-centric work as effective as possible:

  • Setup an internal platform survey
  • Define and validate a set of user personas for developers and other engineers
  • Define naming and usage conventions for chat tools
  • Use the team API with multiple teams to define and clarify team boundaries
  • Devise and share an execution plan.


This book contains lots of examples and hands on material to use Team Topologies patterns for remote working. It describes techniques to track and manage inter-team relationships, to maintain high trust within teams and groups and to make the team interactions more purposeful. It’s a workbook. On several places you find the header ‘Now your turn’ where you get instructions and templates to look at your own situation. It helps you to bring the Team Topologies book into practice within a remote working environment. 

To order Remote Team Interactions Workbook: bol.com

Chinese version of my QRC Team Topologies (团队拓扑快速参考)

Awesome to see that Yu Qin translated my QRC Team Topologies into Chinese.

Published on: https://www.beeart.com/shared/dddf882f-4155-45c8-a1c3-69a6fd498d3f 

For a review of the Team Topologies book and English QRC see: https://hennyportman.wordpress.com/2020/05/25/review-team-topologies/