Even though Scrum Masters or facilitators must be versatile, don’t worry, they do not need any plumbing and heating skills. Though…

Nowadays, despite sometimes mocking considerations regarding those who agitate the organization by “decorating” walls with a slew of post-its, the need for clear, relevant, yet accessible information is essential. Therefore, in this post, I wish to give a quick overview of indicators.

The post-it doesn’t make the Agilist!

When launching a project, one of the first reflexes that I observe and that I have is to implement a repository which will be used by the team to make the best project start-up possible. Despite the good will of the actors, this initiative is often premature and creates afterwards various problems such as those.

Communication is more important than tools. Firstly, you should encourage direct exchanges with the right people at the best moment. The repository and tools are only there to support communication. Thus, it is important not to dictate a process nor impose a constraint.

Besides, neither using the latest trendy project management software application makes you Agile nor having a board covered with post-its. Moreover, these tools do not make you a high-performing Scrum team. And a retrospective without transcribed and visible information is in fact problematic.

Of course, it works not very well!

There is nothing more risky than working without measuring progress or with incorrect information. By the way, have you read the post about velocity written by my colleague Tremeur?

I believe that the goals for using an information radiator must remain simple: communicate the value to be delivered to the organization as well as the values of the development team. If your current indicators cover other aspects and are numerous, it should be time to question them.

Who asked for these indicators? Who implemented them and who are updating them? How often? Who are they really serving? Are they triggering initiatives and reactions?

It’s not uncommon, and often unfortunate, to see Scrum or Kanban boards, as well as definitions of “Done”, lists of impediments and emergencies or other progress charts that are not being updated. An indicator that is out of service or that no longer reflects reality is useless… and becomes dangerous. Thus, at the beginning of your next retrospective, you should remove the indicators that are no longer in use.

The right information, at the right time

A good pilot team does not spend their entire time checking all their indicators. However, they do it frequently, at the right times. Does a chief pilot control the release of the landing gear in mid-flight? Should the cabin crew verify that the ground radio communication is up and running? Certainly not!

Thus, it’s time to brainstorm with your team about what is really important and significant. Furthermore, you should also hold a brainstorm session separately with your business stakeholders. You’d then have two radiators that are relevant and distinct, rather than a single one that is not adapted to your needs.

Sort the points according to the needs that come up most. What quantifiable measures that can be represented graphically can you implement? Who can maintain them? What original format will you use in order to capture attention?

A common trap is to assign data maintenance to the Scrum Master. It is very often a “false good idea”; although Scrum Masters are facilitators, they do not necessarily have the skills required to maintain an indicator if it requires a special expertise. This is the right time to take advantage of the IKEA effect!

Each and all, enjoy your installation!

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romain trocherie

Romain is a Scrum Master at Pyxis Suisse. He helps teams reveal and develop their full potential. He is also known for his ability to experiment, inspect, and revolutionize processes. Contact him to find out how he can contribute to the success of your teams.

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