Me : How does the team see its work ?

Scrum Master: Oh! We use Jira!

I can see the relief on the SM’s face. Bullet dodged, check box checked. Only, umm, Jira isn’t the way you see your work. A rather bold statement I guess considering the firm perceptions in place around digitilising work and what professional looks like. So what do I mean when I say, See the Work ?

I am talking about visualisation and I am talking about a manual visualisation. Yes! Manual visualisation. One with a white board, kanban cards, handwriting and post its. There are a number of reasons why. You need to be able to see your work and I am not talking about the tasks that have been assigned. I am talking about (in one glance being) being able to see:

  • See what is blocked and why
  • See how work is flowing – where is it in the flow ? Where does it still have to go ?
  • What bottlenecks exist ?
  • Where is your high value and high priority work ? How is it flowing ?

Now if you can do all that in less than 5 minutes with Jira, please get hold of me so I can see how you have done it. If you can’t then perhaps it is time to shift your work out of the computer and onto a wall.

When you can see the work properly, you have different conversations about it. The daily stand up is about where we should be spending our time today, how do we get the work to flow, do we need to shift what we are working on to adapt to change ?

And yes! You can still get metrics from a manual visualisation – quite easily actually. Visualisation is one of the forgotten aspects of powerful Agile systems. It is something that we seldom coach or even teach. It isn’t a plan Scrum board with 3 columns. A powerful visualisation shows all the handovers! It tracks how long things stay in a place so that the team can work on removing waste and improving their flow.

Which leaves me with one question. How are you seeing your flow ?

For those of you who are interested, I run a 4 hour workshop on Visualising Flow and if you are really wanting to take your Agile to a new level, I blend flow, visualisation and mindsets and behaviours into a 3 day Agile Boost that you can use no matter where you are in your Agile transformation (and regardless of whether or not you are IT).