The Ultimate Agile Transformation Tool: Sticky Notes

Datetime:2016-08-23 03:32:11          Topic: Agile Development           Share

Traditionally, product development is conducted by the orchestration of three different SILOs know as system, design, and test. Historically, each SILO would be different departments with well-defined boundaries in an organization. The new big thing, "Agile" proposed to combine the SILOs and everyone rushed to join the agile buzz.

How to Know an Organization Is Modern and Agile?

Sarcastically, when you see a group of developers standing close to each other and pointing to a whiteboard then you know that this enterprise is very agile!

Agile transformation reminds me the very first days of a cross functional team I coached in a large enterprise. The enterprise had decided to use Scrum for the development teams. I conducted all scrum artifacts, being the coach I have explained how amazing Scrum is and it is the new big thing. So let's do it together! As excited as I could be, looked around, search for the well-expected acknowledgment and yes my excitement lasted only a few seconds when I received feedbacks like "Agile or Scrum seems to be a waste of time".

Why Would Scrum Be a Waste of Time?

The team responded and gave me a developers point of view. A m ajor concern for that team was overhead and not using that time for doing something productive. Breaking down bigger tasks into smaller tasks, estimating time, writing sticky notes are nothing but a waste of time. It is not efficient, it is redundant work since the actual task would need to get done. Indeed, a team of developers!

Having giving significant efforts in following several sprints and retrospectives in education, coaching and explaining the benefits of breakdown and estimation to the team, no improvements were visible. Desperate for a solution, reminded me one of the 3 fundamentals of agile methodology , "VISUALISATION".

Figure 1: Scrum Board Visualizations 

Contemplating with my thinking cap on suddenly a bulb just lighted up, "Sticky-Note"! The miracle tool is discovered — the color code of the sticky note. I have used the following color code conventions:

  • Any task that shall take more than 5 days shall be  RED.
  • Any task that shall take between 2-4 days shall be  ORANGE.
  • Any task that shall take 1 day or less shall be   GREEN.

Once the team started visualizing, the whole whiteboard looked RED! not a very pleasant sight. To improve, the team set a goal to make the board as green as possible. Eventually, the breaking down tasks got a momentum and the team started understanding the benefits of estimation.

One important benefit is that it helps a team to identify the dependencies between tasks thus the team may plan better. In the process teams may also understand the need of developing competence thus could plan to hold internal seminars which help them to work effectively within the sprint and achieve their goals. Internal seminars are a good learning culture which helps an organization to grow and keep their best talents in the long run.





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