The Importance of Visibility

There was a good post by Susanne Albinger recently that showed the importance of visibility.  I’ve been a long proponent of big, visible boards.  Task boards, burn downs, impediments, you name it.  Electronic tools seem great, they let you have these boards even with distributed teams, however they just aren’t visible enough.  It is very easy to come in to work, sit down, and get started on what you were working on yesterday without pulling up the board to look at.  When you finish something you can move right on to what you think is next without validating that by looking at the board.  It can be very easy to forget to update the status of a task or story because you’re not in the tool right then.  However, when there is a big visible board staring back at you whenever you look up, whenever you go get more coffee or to the bathroom, you just can’t ignore that.  Not only can’t you ignore it, but you know everyone else can see it too.  Others can walk by and see the items and ask about them.  If it’s not updated that could cause questions and confusion.  So in my experience, big visible boards are kept much more up to date than tools, but this applies to more than just task boards and story status.  Susanne gives us a good example of keeping track of whose turn it was to be the “watchdog”, the person that babysat the build and took care of broken builds and failing tests.

It was not clear to everyone whose turn it was to be the watchdog. Somebody had to come up with a schedule to identify who was next. As a result, we started a list on our SharePoint server, which contained a name for each week. Still, people tended to forget about their tasks or simply not check the list. We needed something else, something that couldn’t be missed and was a permanent reminder of the task.

Source: Watch the Dog – Susanne Albinger

The image at the top of this post, “The Importance of Visibility”, is a derivative of “Existential visibility” by Quinn Dombrowski, used under CC BY-SA. “The Importance of Visibility” is licensed under CC BY-SA by Development Block, LLC.

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