Updated: Sep 7, 2019
Backbone of Agile teams is communication. If you have witnessed the communication effectiveness diagram which was originally proposed by Alistair Cockburn you can already figure out that face to face communication on a whiteboard is the most effective way of communication between a group of people. Agile methodologies believe in effective communication and thus using these effective communication techniques in day to day work, brings great results.
At the end of the day, we are human beings. We understand better when we see it. We are the best when we do it with our own hands. These are the real traits of human beings, who are often the ones doing the "job".
How do great teams visualise their work?
First of all, if you have distributed teams, who are spread across countries or even continents, then maintaining a physical wall is almost pointless. In this case you have to look towards collaborative tools which can make effective communication possible for you. Distributed teams can also happen within the same building, sitting on different floors. In this case also, physical wall won't help. I will explain the collaborative online wall tools in another post.
But, in case you have a colocated team, who can access and see the physical wall, then you need to keep certain things in mind. The visualisation method chooses in this case should have the below necessary qualities:
Visible and accessible.
Simple and easy to update. If you make it too complicated to update,the wall will probably deteriorate. And if you suspect it’s not up to date you will stop trusting it.
Clean and intuitive. If you put love and care into designing the wall you will probably respect it more and want to continue to keep it nice and tidy.
Easy to follow. Don’t go bananas, choose components with care. Make it simple and easy to follow.
Focusses on Core Flows. Design for the normal cases and choose additional components based on the behaviors you want to change.
Can be improved, adjusted or abandoned. Don't make it something too formal. Its for the team and if the team thinks that this should be improved then be open to improve it.
You can also download the below image if you want these points presentable in a ppt.
Once you have setup the physical wall for your agile team, then you have to start maintaining it daily. Usually from then on, this should be the place where your stand ups should happen. Team members should move the sticky notes themselves in front of everyone, so that everyone is aware about how the team is making progress. Or if any team member is blocked, then anyone can come forward and help.
A cool tip about setting up a physical wall, sometimes we do it on a whiteboard which can be dragged on wheels. It's of great help in cases where team sitting space is not spacious enough to have a standup and you need to go into a room. In this case, you can bring this board with you and it will help in facilitating the standup without any issues.