nthorpe

Raised, and subsequently abandoned, by wolves, I went on to an illustrious career, where I selected the wallpaper for the little known small hadron collider, located outside Warambool.

A Most Excellent Roadmap for your Adventure


Like they say at UK.gov, ” if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”

This post is so perfect, we just had to link to it. Read and enjoy.

http://www.mindtheproduct.com/2014/07/experiments-roadmapping-gov-uk/

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Worst Jobs in History: Who sits where?


Here’s a candidate for the worst job in history. Put your hand up to be the one who figures out who sits where in an office, when there is a move or a restructure on.  An endless cycle of creating spreadsheets, consulting with people, updating spreadsheets, consulting again.  And no one is allowed to see it until it’s final for fear that they complain.  What a nightmare.

But my friend Nat has it figured out. The ultimate transparency in seating plans.  Instead of the endless rounds of secret consultations, and paper updating, he creates a place for conversation and thinking about who is going to sit where. On his filing cabinet, he sticks up a seating chart and uses people-shaped memo magnets, colour-coded further with liquid paper and highlighters to represent different teams:

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Each team can see where they are sitting, and can try out different combinations with Nat.  “What if we did this?…”

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It’s easy to update and change, you never have to worry about accidentally deleting someone (you can’t lose these magnets, they are so strong that if they are anywhere near the filing cabinet they will home in like an exocet missile), and if you need a soft-copy – just snap a picture.

(But what if you don’t have a handy filing cabinet?  Aussiemagnets.com.au also stock a range of flexible iron products that can make a magnetic surface where there is none. Want to use magnetic cards but you have a glass wall?  You can attach flexible iron to the walls with double-sided tape, and the whole area is magnet-friendly.)

 

Spotted: If we tell you we’ll have to kill you.

 

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Slickynotes look like they are worth a try


Index Cards and Post-its. Whiteboards.  These are our utensils.  We spend our days with them.  We write on them, stick em on walls, we photograph them. We write them up.  Hundreds of them.  I spend so much time with them that they even invade my dreams.  I think if I see those 5 pukey index card colours for another year though, I’m going to have to kill someone.  Ergh.

Hello, Slickynotes.

Slickynotes are reusable, 2 sided, and adhere by static cling.

Slickynotes stick to smooth surfaces by static electricity.  I tried them on glass and painted walls and they seem to stick about as well as post-its.  They don’t have adhesive on them which means that they are usable on both sides.  As an added bonus, one side is erasable if you use whiteboard markers, much like a whiteboard or those flexible magnetic index cards.  Another bonus is that these are re-usable – we do generate a lot of waste with all our post-its.

Slickynotes come in two sizes – the smallish ones are 100mm x 74mm, and the medium-sized ones are 200mm by 100mm.

I have some of these, and I’ve played with them, but I haven’t had a chance to try them out in a real life work setting yet.  A colleague swears by them though so I think they are worth a try.

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Lego Calendar


Lego calendar

On the topic of 3d hacks, did you see this excellent calendar?

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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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Feature Burnup Charts are on the Cards


When agile is working at scale, with multiple teams, there is usually a need to see progress through the work at different “zoom-levels”.

Most familiar is the story zoom-level: How are the stories progressing? Are they blocked? Why? How is the iteration progressing? Team boards, and team level hacks, help us to see these things change, and to understand how to improve.

At a higher zoom-level, the visibility needed is: How are multiple teams progressing through the larger pieces of work (we’ll call them features) which the stories are part of.  So what we need to see is: When are they likely to finish this feature? What’s at risk? What’s blocking the team? Does the team need help?

This level of information is often represented on a program wall, which is a bit like a “zoomed-out” version of a team wall, showing the backlog of features to be delivered, cycle time across the whole program, and so on.

Here’s an example of a program wall. Each team is represented by a horizontal row and the columns are the iterations in which the teams expect each feature to finish.

The program wall shows all the features in progress.

The program wall shows all the features in progress.

The detail of how these features are tracking is found on the individual teams walls.  But one team found a way to clearly summarise their progress on this wall too.  They decided to stick burnups onto the front of each feature card.  (A burnup is one of the most eloquent of board hacks as it provides a single view of scope and velocity, as both change).

Burnup on a feature card

Burnups on each feature card show the team’s progress through that feature, as well as changes in scope.

You can see it a little better below:

burnup on a card

So now, when you’re standing at the feature wall you can see the burnup for that feature, right on the front of the feature card without having to go and find the team wall.  In this example, the feature is in the Iteration 12 column, but the burnup tells me it’s more likely to finish in the 14th iteration unless something changes – I smell risk!  You can get a very rich sense of what’s going on, at a glance.

Spotted: Telstra Contact Solutions

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Follow the dots: the simplest way to track cycle time


This team wanted to track cycle time, and chose to do this by simply putting a dot on each card every day at standup. This way, you can count the dots on each card in the “done” pile at the end of the iteration (or any time), and understand average cycle time per card, or by point-size.

Cycle time for the story below is 6 days.

But this team took it a step further, colour-coding the dots by number of days in each process step. So, the card below spent 2 days in the backlog (green dots), then 3 days in build (red), and 2 days in test (black).

“Some of the cards had dots going all around the edge of the card!” says Gina. And sometimes the stories bounced back and forth between build and test (you would see this as alternating runs of red and black). Great fodder for retro.

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Spotted: Telstra Contact Solutions, CCRI

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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:
photo (3)

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.

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

What have you seen used as a board?

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