When we work in async teams, we have many benefits from it – people not blocked on each other, freedom of place, freedom of time. We also have some drawbacks. You can’t expect an instant reply to whatever you ask for. In the nature of async, you can’t even be sure when you get the reply. What’s interesting, you can’t even be sure that all (any?) people actually received your message.
In distributed systems we have the same problems (is the other server down?). We’re not machines, but some techniques may be worth applying. Which ones come to your mind?
In some cases, you may think that you are being ignored. That’s a bad feeling (been there). What I do in such case is that I remind myself that I also didn’t reply to every conversation that is happening. Sometimes I’m the one who ignores. It’s never intended. Often, it’s because I’m super busy and I don’t want to switch the context immediately. I try to be organized and when I see an important conversation to participate I add a task to my GTD (recently it’s Apple Reminders). It’s not always the case, though. Sometimes I fuck up and don’t remember to come back to that conversation. If there’s more people like me who don’t answer – the asking person may feel terrible and that’s sad.
I know that this may be expecting too much, but I expect the asking person to “internally sell” the conversation/question/problem in better ways. First of all, friendly-ping the topic again after some time. Consider using another medium – slack/hackpad/discourse/mumble/trello/github/email/standup.
Async teams are great but require some special skills – overcommunication, proactiveness, trust (always assume the best intentions), selling skills, good writing.
BTW, As Arkency, we add anarchy to the async environment. What does it mean in practice? You don’t need to ask for agreement on something. It’s good to overcommunicate what you’re doing and make your idea happen. In the worst case, me or someone else will jump and say – “don’t do that please” and this can start a discussion.