Posts Tagged Transparency

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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Epic status


Greater visibility to stakeholders: it can be an ongoing battle.  Even when they’re au fait with the vagaries of ‘when we finish this we’ll start on the next priority feature’,  keeping them up to date can be tricky.  And what about the “zoom level”?  Stakeholders want to see the big picture (roadmap) and the detailed planning.

We see teams tackle it many different ways, and often end up with a separate backlog of epics, or a feature roadmap, or future sprints mapped out across the wall.   Craig of Better Projects sent us this hack by colleague Ben Birch at Aconex.  It gives tight focus to the team’s work, without the need for a separate wall for a roadmap.

They simply added a lane around the outside of the sprint board, which indicates the flow of epics through their development lifecycle – from the backlog, through planning, development and release.  Epics travel across the top of the board – the further they go, the nearer they are to completion.

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Epics start their journey in the backlog.  The priorities are fairly fluid here, as priorities change and new features are added. Realistically, anything not in the top two or three epics is aspirational.  And with multiple stakeholders, this is where the horse-trading of priorities can take place. These epics haven’t yet had much work done on them — and commonly haven’t been broken down into stories.

An epic in the planning stage is in the process of being broken into stories and analysed through more carefully.  The product owner is working on them, perhaps there UX  investigation going on, or there may be some spikes in play.

An epic moves into in progress when work starts on the first story card.
Story cards for the epic are added to the stories backlog on the main, internal area of the board — and colour coded to match the epics in progress.

In the picture we can see one green epic nearing completion, with another blue epic just beginning.  It’s worth noting that all the stories for an epic are added here, there is no separate backlog for stories.  When necessary, the team will draw a line through the story backlog to indicate where they plan to get to within the current sprint (not shown in this picture).

When all stories for an epic are complete, it moves into done, ready to go live with the next release.
It’s a simple hack, and it’s helped the team clearly communicate where various features are up to to their many stakeholders.
Thanks for sharing Ben and Craig!

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A wall with a view


As we’ve mentioned before, sometimes you just have to work with the reality that you are not allowed to stick anything on the walls – especially when your walls are the glass of an office building.

A team I’ve been working with recently knew that they needed to come up with a solution to comply and respect their building policy – however the only space was the glass.  A policy common in many buildings.  However they didn’t let that hold them back!  After a couple of weeks they had a feel for how much space they were using, so they designed their own walls.  As well as being portable, they also had to let light through so that they weren’t blocking out the natural light.  Their innovative solution was clear perspex agile boards – and they are one of the slickest solutions that I’ve seen.

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Ironically, they are almost too good.  From a distance the perspex agile boards blend into the building windows. Many people do a double take when they realise they’re not on the windows at all!

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

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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!).

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Spotted: Bankwest, Perth

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