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.

IMG_2569

Spotted: Telstra Contact Solutions, CCRI

, , , ,

Leave a comment

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.

P1060027

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

What have you seen used as a board?

,

Leave a comment

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?

IMG_2109

,

1 Comment

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

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

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

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.

, , ,

Leave a comment

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

, ,

Leave a comment

Mapping progress


Teams track progress in many different ways.  Most commonly I see variations on a burn down chart.  But if you’re finding that a little bit boring, then there’s no reason not to get creative to illustrate progress.

Here’s an idea from a team working their way through every country in the world.  Each country gets coloured in as it is completed.  Stakeholders can see the progress as it happens, and also whether the country they are interested in has been completed yet. If you click on the image below, the animation shows the progress over a few weeks.

Spotted: LP Content Desk

, , , ,

Leave a comment

A fresh set of eyes…


After spending a day with a new team setting up their first agile wall, I was surprised to come back the next week and see a pair of binoculars on one of their desks.  When I asked about them it turned out that one of the team was using them to read the board without having to get up from his desk.  

Brilliant! Why have I never thought of doing this????  I just squint at the board or walk back and forth from my desk.

Of course, a fresh set of eyes will always come up with a new way of doing things.  What could do with a fresh set of eyes in your team?


CC image courtesy of drtel on Flickr

,

Leave a comment

Are We Gonna Make it?


Here’s a tool for teams doing commitment – based planning.

On this chart there is  confidence slider per day of the iteration. Team members individually mark their confidence that the team’s commitment will be reached on the chart after standup, with a line.  On the left of the scale is “Very scared that we will not achieve everything we have committed to this iteration”. On the other: “Very confident that we will deliver everything that we have committed to by the end of this iteration.”

This one makes an excellent conversation starter. “Why do you feel that we will / wont make the goal?” The answers may well reveal risks which may have remained hidden.   Different teams will display different patterns. For some, they become more confident as the iteration progresses. For others, you will see the cloud of marks moving back to the left.

Below you can see the clusters of lines, and you can see outliers: skeptics, or optimists. Graeme, the Iteration Manager, says: “For stakeholders, or other interested people, they can see how the team feels about a commitment.” That’s hard to argue with. “I like it better than a burndown chart.”

It certainly looks like a better form of reporting than the standard RAG Sheet.

Look below: this iteration, the team have divided on the fourth day in, with at least three team members strongly convinced the goal is out of reach. What happened on Wednesday? A great conversation starter.

Spotted: Telstra  Contact Solutions CCRI team, Graeme Robb.

, ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: