Visual Management for Agile Teams
Welcome to the world of Visual Management! Task boards, post-its, mind maps, burndown charts, kanban boards, lava lamps… information visualization techniques and the visual workplace play a fundamental role in creating visibility and helping build transparency and trust among Agile teams. Come to this workshop to experience in person the value of Visual Management, and help cooperatively come up with the ultimate task board!
In this exploratory workshop, teams will be challenged to come up with creative ideas for visualizing information typical of an Agile project. The workshop focuses on Task Board design. Participants will play the role of the project team of a fictitious company that has just hired a new CEO. The goal of the workshop is to build an information radiator (a task board) that will keep the CEO at bay while helping the team organize and visualize their work.
Once participants have been given a general introduction, they are divided into colored teams (red, green and blue). Each team receives 4 stories divided into 5 tasks each which will be their sprint backlog. Each team also gets a colored box full of office supplies and of course each team gets a blank taskboard. Ideally these will be whiteboards, but if this is not feasible we can use two flipchart paper sheets taped together. In the boxes there will be a broad range of materials available (different sized post-its, tape, papers, magnets, colored markers, etc) that teams can use to exercise their creativity and come up with innovative ways of solving the problems they will face.
We will do two iterations. In the first, teams are given basic guidelines such as “the taskboard must show who is working on what”. Teams present their boards, and the CEO will criticize and review them. (I play the CEO).
For the second iteration, teams are given much more specific issues that they have to visualize. Teams will then present their improved boards, and this time it’s the other teams that get to review and criticize them.
As teams come up with ideas, we will also discuss (and show) visual management anti-patterns that participants have experienced in similar situations.
The main goal of the session is for participants to experience how easy it is to come up with innovative approaches for visualizing information relevant to their projects, while at the same time sending a clear message about the value and importance of applying proper Visual Management techniques.
This session is being proposed together with the launch of the Visual Management Blog, a space for the discussion of ideas and examples of Visual Management applied to Agile teams and Agile project management. The workshop complements the article Visual Management for Agile Teams, where the importance of task board design and usability is emphasized.
The blog has received very good criticism from the Agile community so far. Rachel Davies, Tobias Mayer, Stacia Broderick and Steve Freeman are among the noteworthy people who have left positive feedback in the form of comments.
Update 2 March 2009: The workshop has been succesfully trialed! I made a dry run of the workshop on the 26th/Feb with a group of 20 people in Belgium. It went very well, people got really involved, left positive feedback and some even said they had learned things they would implement immediately the next day! See the workshop pictures here
- Understand the importance of Visual Management in agile software development
- Learn new ideas for visualizing information relevant to your project and team
- Exercise your creativity and imagination