First and foremost:
Focus on work items, not people.
Finishing is more important than starting.
Practical tip: start to the right/ at the end of your board, and identify impediments to finishing tasks as you go upstream on the board.
Only two questions are really necessary in the actual standup if the team’s real process is reflected on the board:
The team will be asked if the board accurately reflects what is being worked upon. The team will be asked if there is anything that is slowing down or stopping throughput. After these two questions are answered by the team, the stand-up is over.
(Karl Scotland via @dpjoyce.)
Last week I looked at my overgrown todo list, or rather several lists, and preparation for a demo at work was coming up, and I have a long trip to prepare for…
So I simply had to create a personal kanban on the cupboard behind me:
Collaboration on the demo preparation led to tasks on the board, and I took the most important and urgent tasks from my todo lists onto the board.
I used a form of priority filter, with a generic todo column to the left, then a “soon”/today column, then the usual doing and done columns.
It worked really well to let tasks float up and to the right in the todo columns, kind of like bubbles. I got an immediate impression of relative urgency (more to the right) and relative importance (upwards), making it very easy to decide what the next task should be when I finished a task.
If you visualize more you get more agile.
Tom Wujec had an excellent TED talk on 3 ways the brain creates meaning.
- Use images to clarify ideas
Visual shapes, physical space, colors, motion help us create mental model, more understanding
- The act of engaging, being interactive enriches mental model
- Augment memory by creating persistent, evolving views
Let’s say you have a task board for a software development team, either a physical one or a digital one shown on a screen as a dashboard. Let’s say it’s visible in an office so that everyone on and outside the team sees it several times a day.
- People in and around the team gain a shared mental model, a shared understanding.
- People interact with the board as things change, including upstream and downstream stakeholders. A visible task board creates more engaged stakeholders.
- A task board is persistent and evolving, and becomes a new visual, domain-specific language of sorts, where the domain is the reality of the development team.
This language is a more abstract, high-level language, and enables much more effective thinking, communication, and collaboration.
A software development team communicate and collaborate better the more they visualize the work.
How can you visualize more to gain advantages like that? Here’s a few examples:
- Let workflow on task board be closer to reality
- Show different types of work differently
- Let a status screen display a virtual task board permanently
- Are you working in a traditional waterfall project? Regularly print the latest version of the project plan (and progress) and put it on the wall.
- Show more policies like DoDs, increase transparency
- Are you doing CI or continuous builds? Create alerts or alarms for failures, include status on status screens.
- Show problems and impediments clearly
- Do you share status on sales, bugs, product upgrades, project progress, project backlog etc in monthly or weekly meetings? Make status visible for everyone at anytime via screen or paper.