Walls that talk

Terence wrote this post this week taking aim at the the pervasiveness of Post-Its in todays digital orthodoxy. He referred to the Post-Its on abandoned ‘agile’ walls as wallpaper. Sam responded with a lovely ode to the wonder of wallpaper.

I’ve been known to take aim at the ‘blizzard of Post-Its’ (™ Charlie Stross) from Agile Coaches (and Product Managers, Service Designers and everybody else really) but I think the problem that Terence is describing has nothing to do with the stationery chosen and everything to do with poor practice and agile theatre. In Terence’s story at least he was able to see and ask the question about ‘Jerry’ – in a million forgotten Trello boards (and Github Projects and Jira Boards and..and…) there remain actions and tasks not monitored and never delivered.

The power of physical ‘agile’ walls is when they become a focal point for a team and a conversation starter with other people. The wall should be a contributor to an ongoing conversation – one that changes and evolves – but also be able to present to the world without translation. The wall should speak in a language understood by all.

Some of my best moments on big agile deliveries were when I stumbled across someone loosely – or not at all – connected to my teams work studying our wall(s) and then later having them attend show and tells with great questions.

The problem is too often this is just a tick box artefact for an agile team going through the motions. Grids are drawn or taped. Post-Its are scribbled and applied. Backs are patted. Then the wall is neglected and eventually abandoned until the next team needs that wall space and there is nobody left who cares to claim it – and too often the cycle continues.

So I’d suggest Terence’s problem is with agile cargo cult-ing  more than Post-Its (in this case – the fact that they are an eco-disaster of a ‘digital’ cliche is another matter!).

For what it is worth I prefer index cards.