How asynchronous meetings speed Agile

As my company was just acquired, I'm turning my attention to our organically developed Agile processes and noticing how it is that we stay so Agile and almost meeting-free. This just happened this morning:

While I was busy on a call, a lead developer needed some decisions finalized so that he could finish the UI for a new feature. Discussion in the Jira ticket had been progressing too slowly for him, so he started a Slack conversation with the product manager and with me, because the technical writer gets pulled into anything involving customer-facing language choices. 
In Slack, we hashed out the problems and questions, did some quick mockups, reworded the screen text, and thought through the implications for users. In only 15 minutes, development was unblocked, new language was approved, and I obtained key details I that I would be needing to make the documentation useful. 
Here are key benefits I spotted in this method:
  • Immediate — My dev lead didn't have to wait for the rest of us to be free for a meeting or wait for a standup to say that he was blocked.
  • Multitasking-friendly — The asynchronous nature meant that we were efficiently answering other Slack channels while we waited for each other to think and write up responses.
  • Documented — Unlike meetings, it leaves a complete written trail that we can search later for the details. We do record our Zoom meetings, but those are opaque to text searches.

I'm pasting the important bits of the Slack conversation into the Jira ticket so that we don't lose the history of what we decided and why. Our goal is always to make the ticket the repository of historical truth, so that a new person coming along later could reasonably catch up on the who, what, where, when, and why of the issue's life and jump in right from there.

How we came to this technique is, I think, a natural development of our being remote and distributed across time zones. To use everyone's time well, most synchronous meetings simply had to die. 

And that's a good thing. :-)

Don't get me wrong: it's lovely to see team mates; it's just that synchronous meetings aren't the way to get the most done. They are ephemeral, they bog down across time zones, and they don't scale. The efficient way is to use our messaging platforms for asynchronous meetings