Archive for March, 2013

Opportunistic Boards


Sometimes you just don’t have wall space.  You may be at the mercy of the building police, who sternly forbid such outrageous acts as using blu-tac on a blank wall to boost productivity – or you may just be somewhere that doesn’t have walls, and you need to think and plan.

What do you do?  You get opportunistic.

Here’s a few innovative boards we’ve seen around the traps:

Mark and Gus, at 40,000 feet, on an A380 Airliner:
A380

Agilistas in an activity-based-workspace, who improvised with a shower curtain:
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Spotted: Bankwest, Perth

Use a pole:
Opportunistic board

Spotted: Lonely Planet

Use a window:
board on a window

Spotted: Medibank

Horizontal board on a desk (we weren’t allowed to put anything on the walls) – with half-sized cards.

P1060027

spotted: If we tell you, we’ll have to kill you

What have you seen used as a board?

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Standup Heat Map


Following on from the retro heat map, how about a standup heat map?

David Colls realised that his standup had become 2 separate conversations: the team’s shared conversation at standup had been lost.  So he made a map of who spoke to whom at standup to show what was really going on. With the team currently working on 2 pieces of work which were not directly related to each other the dialogue was fragmenting. A good topic for retro?

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Post-it Not


No, that strapline is not missing an “e”.

We Agilistas navigate through our days using tons of post-it notes.  You can always tell where the agile folks have been: they leave a trail of the things just like Hansel & Gretel.  When you’re facilitating, or even thinking, they’re just too handy. They allow us to group ideas, to reposition them in relation to each other. We can use their colour and arrangement to help us see patterns in ideas. We can have everyone in the room contribute their own ideas, and then group and edit them as a team. What could be better?

Well…in some cases, this stuff.   This turns any piece of paper into a post-it.  You just smear a line of it onto a card or bit of paper and you can re-stick it and reposition it to your lil’ agile heart’s content. It’s called a re-stickable glue stick.

So what? Well, it’s a lot neater and less splodgy than blu-tac, so it’s good for avatars and little badges which go onto the surface of index cards. Blu-tac often causes these smaller pieces of paper to warp.  But it also lets you effectively create your own post-its. You can create post-its of different shapes, where the shapes are meaningful for your team. They could have templates on them for key terms, or story numbers, or, or… anything!

You could get it here, for example.

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Shower Curtain Aids Transparency


No, it’s not for planning your iteration in the shower. Sorry.

Sometimes, you just can’t get to the walls. Maybe the building police won’t let you put anything on the walls. Maybe there just isn’t the space, or your team isn’t located adjacent to a wall.  Portable whiteboards, which are the usual guerilla weapon of choice in this situation, can block lines of sight and available light. And sometimes they get the building police excited, too.

One team decided to take matters into their own hands and create their own Shower Scene. The cards fit into little pockets designed into the shower curtain. Note the little suckers at the top which allow you to stick it up on any smooth surface.

Just one supplier for this product (shop around, people, and let us know where the bargains are!).

photo (3)

Spotted: Bankwest, Perth

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Whiteboard Paint


Turn any wall into a whiteboard! This stuff is the bomb.

I haven’t used this brand before, but there are a few variants on the market. Once you get over your fear of writing directly on the wall, being able to write anywhere is very liberating.

At Lonely Planet, there was a team war-room where all the walls were painted with whiteboard paint. The kind we had wrote well, and erased well too. For a while, we had an entire business case sketched up on the wall and stakeholders could come and talk through the whole thing. We could change the slides right there on the wall, on the fly. A great place for thinking. Look out though, your wall is going to look like this in no time!

Here is another brand.

Special props to Nigel Dalton and Gus Balbontin on this one.

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Are you sleeping?


Sleep Deprivation scale

Here are some interesting facts* about (lack of) sleep that you may not know:

  • seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.
  • a new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year.
  • it’s impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervision. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it.

How does that affect you at work?  My mate Dave knew it affected him badly, so he came up with this visual hack to let people know how he was feeling.  He says:

“We’d just had Hamish, and were in the sleeplessness death zone a lot of the time. But at work we were in the crucial months of getting data ready for a new site, and I was the go-to guy for a whole bunch of content things. Some days I was capable of rational thought and decision-making; others, not so much. So this meter helped give people a kind of reliability quotient for anything I said that day.”

Thanks to David Burnett for this hack.

*Source: The National Sleep Research Project via abc.net.au

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