Visualisations & Information Radiators

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Fundamental to an agile organisation is the ability for leaders to make rapid decisions in order to adapt to market changes. This is predicated on the assumption that leaders have the relevant information to make such a decision. The ability to visualise information (either on a board, on a tool or in a room) if one of the most effective tools available to an organisation.

At the team level, a simple board will usually suffice. However, information complexity increases with size. The larger the decision context, the more information is required. Hence, many organisations are starting to scale boards to rooms. A quick caveat though, while the room should be an enabler to good decision making, it won't create something that isn't there in the first place.

Room Layouts[edit | edit source]

The layout is something you need to experiment with as you will go through at least 4-5 iterations before you find something that works for both management and the staff. The room (or boards) should be accessible, large and prominent. Executive and team meetings should be around the board. Use it to facilitate the discussion. Some ideas to get you started;

Kanban Boards[edit | edit source]

You probably have different strategies with different flows. That's natural, this may mean you will have a couple of boards, but you should start with a high-level, general, board. The initial layout could be as simple as "Idea >> In Action >> Realised/Done" - noting of course that each card should be an outcome that you are trying to achieve. Outcomes can be simple and practical or complex and hard to define, but should always have a tangible definition of done. Use codenames where outcomes are confidential (e.g. mergers).

Standard Kanban rules apply but, most importantly, you must limit WIP. You shouldn't be working on more than 'n' outcomes simultaneously (and these should be a combination of short and long-term outcomes). Each outcome needs an accountable owner (use pictures if you can).

As a side note, while you're iterating the layout and process keep it simple (drawn lines, post-its, etc), but when you've settled on something, get it printed big and nice. It makes a difference.

Supporting Layouts[edit | edit source]

I've always liked NZPGs elephant in the room. It's a single board with an elephant printed on it. Anyone in the organisation can place a post-it on the board and it forces a conversation on that topic. It supports the main board, without distracting from the message.

Techniques[edit | edit source]

Numbers alone don’t provide enough useful information to manage an organisation. Using tools like Burndown Charts, Cumulative Flow Diagrams, and Cycle Time Run Charts, you can represent, and visualise, the scope of work, planned delivery, and actual delivery of tasks and requirements. To ensure full transparency between your teams and customers, these charts should be available to everyone even remotely involved with the team.

  • A Burndown Chart is a common tool for visualising the progress of work over time by graphing the total effort estimated, and estimated effort remaining against time (either the length of an Iteration or a reportable period).

Insights[edit source]

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