Play, Learn & Work remotely – Grow with MindCoord

Learn how Mindcoord team members work, learn and play remotely. Find out how Mindcoord is able to grow its team to have members from around the world working to solve challenging problems together.

From its foundation in 2019, MindCoord has maintained an all-remote staff that now spread across over 3 countries. The “mind” way of working uses tools that let us work on ongoing projects wherever we are in the world and at our preferred time. The idea is that because it’s always “9 to 5” somewhere on the planet, work can continue around the clock, increasing aggregate productivity. That sounds good, but a workforce staggered in both time and space presents unique coordination challenges with wide-ranging organizational implications.

For this kind of complex work, co-location with ongoing communication is often a better approach because it offers two virtues: synchronicity and media richness. The time lag in the interaction between two or more individuals is almost zero when they are co-located, and, although the content of the conversation may be the same in both face-to-face and in virtual environments, the technology may not be fully able to convey soft social and background contextual cues — how easy is it to sense other people’s reactions in a group meeting?

At the heart of the engineering work that drives MindCoord’s product development is the “coordination” workflow process. In this process, a programmer making a contribution to a code “forks” (copies) the code, so that it is not blocked to other users, works on it, and then makes a “merge request” to have the edited version replace the original, and this new version becomes available for other contributions. The process combines the possibility of distributed asynchronous work with a structure that checks for potential coordination failures and ensures clarity on decision rights. Completely electronic (which makes remote work feasible) and fully documented.

Software development system is not enough to drive MindCoord forward as a team. We also invented another system called “mind board” which is inspired by Toyota engineer’s Kanban. Every team member would keep their work updated on the electric board, every task is created and tracked based on the local time. Team members in different countries could have a clear understanding of the project progress and good track about colleague’s work. MindCoord’s high degree of reliance on asynchronous working is made possible by respecting the following three rules right down to the task level:

  1. Separate responsibility for doing the task from the responsibility for declaring it done.

At MindCoord, every task is expected to have a Directly Responsible Individual (DRI), who is responsible for the completion of the task and has freedom in how it should be performed. The DRI, however, does not get to decide whether the task has been completed. That function is the responsibility of a “Maintainer,” who has the authority to accept or reject the DRI’s merge requests. Clarity on these roles for every task helps reduce confusions and delays and enables multiple DRIs to work in parallel.

  1. Respect the “minimum viable change” principle.

We believe the value of knowing what the other is doing as soon as possible is greater than getting the perfect product. That is how the “mind board” works. Different times and locations never stop us from working like face to face. It helps prevent two individuals may be working in parallel on the same problem, making one of their efforts redundant, or one person may be making changes that that are incompatible with the efforts of another.

  1. Always communicate publicly.

As MindCoord team members are prone to say, “we do not send an internal email here.” Instead, we post all questions and share all information on the channels, and later the team leaders decide what information needs to be permanently visible to others during the meeting.

MindCoord developed a communication software, one Kanban system, three company cloud-drive and of course, our entertainment system. Every weekend will be our remote gaming time. We take the entertainment time as another key to our remote working system, it helps the team members bonded and share our life thoughts constantly. We are all around the world, but we work together every day, share our life, every day.

(It is dawn by our chief engineer, can you guess what it is? (- -)