Archive for September, 2014

Lean Coffee?


You know how Melbournites can get about our coffee – if you dis my macchiato dealer, you’ll get into a stoush faster than you can say “Carlton sucks”.

One of my locals is the Postal Hall. I was intrigued recently by the particular visual dialect they use to make their tasks and queues visible. Look at the pictures below:

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This is a queue. And the arrangement of spoons, bottle caps and milk jugs are the visual language.

The first cup in the queue is a flat white (milk jug) for the outside right table (see bottle cap), with one sugar (1 spoon). And it’s followed up by a cafe latte with two sugars for the same table.

If customers have a special requirement, this is signalled with the use of an ice cream stick: “smokin hot”!

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The waitstaff bring the jobs in and set them up, and the barista creates the brew. No need to read a list, a quick glance at the setup tells the barista all he needs to know.

Next up, WIP queue limits?

For another example of lean in the fast food industry, see Nigel Dalton‘s classic post here.

We’d love to hear of other examples. Seen any lately?

Spotted: Postal Hall, 116 Russell St, Melbourne.

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Blocks of Time


Trying to keep track of time spent on different tasks. Or clients. Or projects. Maybe you have had this problem. I know I have. You want to do it easily as you go. We all hate timesheets, and trying to remember what we did all day. Imagine if it easy. Imagine if it was fun!

If you’re a consultant, you need it for billing purposes. If you’re not, your boss, or your timesheet might require it – or you might just be interested in understanding your work.  Michael Hunger had this problem, and he created this 3D hack to solve it:

Michael Hunger's week, represented in Lego.

Michael Hunger’s week, represented in Lego.

Here’s how it works.

Right there, that’s Michael’s week. Each row of bricks represents an hour, and each tower is a day. As he goes through his day, he uses the coloured blocks to represent the project he’s working on (the box of lego came with 8 colours, and he figures thats enough to cover his projects).  As he goes hour by hour, he adds the coloured bricks to the row for that hour. And builds up his day. The sizes of the bricks allow Michael to track in 15 minute increments, which should be enough.

When he’s building his day tower, he has a single unit lego “day” ruler next to it, to remind him how high 8 hours is. For him, thats his 10am to 6pm day. You can see this below:

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Read the full details about this hack on Michael’s excellent blog, Better Software Development.

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Hacking Trello


In my experience, digital card walls don’t really cut it.  For me, they can’t compete with the tactility of the real thing – I just don’t get the same kinesthetic feedback when I move a card on a digital board.  However, they are a reality of working life for many teams and I’m pretty excited to post our first Digital board hack here!

One of our readers works in a team who’d struck just this problem.  A restructure meant that they were suddenly working with remote teams and their trusty cardboard and sharpie system didn’t cut it anymore.  One of the things that didn’t easily transition over was the system of icons that they used to indicate things such as Blocked, Kicked Off, Bug.  You know, those ones we have such fun printing, cutting, laminating and sticking on the front of cards to tell us all kinds of useful stuff.

The solution is actually pretty simple.  Set up dummy users in Trello and give them profile pics that represent Blocked, Bug, etc.  Add them as ‘members’ to cards and therefore see the “blocked” icon badge on it.  As Dave tells it:

“[We] set up dummy email accounts associated with icons in gravatar.com. Then we could add them as members to our Trello board and use the icons as status stickers for our cards.  [We gave them] all the same prefix as board member names (“z_blocked”, “z_kicked_off”, “z_walked_through”) [so that] these icon accounts are all … together in any listing.”

Great idea!

Trello-board-icons

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