I recently sent out a Tweet asking the question: ”What is your favorite Agile tool?” Someone said that is was the retrospective, another replied the whiteboard. In this blog post I’m going to tell you what my favorite Agile tools are. If you have followed this blog for a while, it may not come as a surprise that it is not Rally, VersionOne or Jira.
This is the visualization tool numero uno! Without it, everything becomes so much harder. It’s so obvious that you tend to forget it, actually the tweet from above reminded me. In our control room we have eight of them. For a collocated team I still prefer a physical whiteboard, rather than a digital tool.
What would the world of Agile be without stickies/post-it:s? They are the fundament that the Agile manifesto resides on :). The companies like 3M that makes them must make have made an fortune after Scrum and Kanban became popular.
You need plenty of stickies, the more, the merrier! You need them in as many colors and sizes available as well. Why? You want the different colors to signal different things. For example all bugs are written on pink/red stickies, all new features on yellow and so on. Currently we use five different colors, and two different sizes on our whiteboards.
You need a proper felt pen! This is molto importante! Don’t use a normal pen to write on your stickies, you need a good black felt pen. Why? Because you want the text on the stickies to be readable from a distance longer than just normal reading distance (like when reading a book). Everybody in the team gets much more involved if they can also read the stickies, and not just the person standing closest to the whiteboard leading the meeting.
We use two different types of tape. The first one is black line tape, to make nice and straight lines on the whiteboards (making columns or swim lanes). The other one is regular tape. I use the regular tape to secure the line tape on the whiteboard, and also to secure the stickies (you can see that in the picture above). This can be seen as unnecessary, and in some cases it is, but in our control room air from the ventilation comes up from the floor making the surface of the whiteboard a bit ”windy” (so that stickies can fall off to be found by the cleaner that don’t know where they belong). There are ”super sticky” stickies around, that can be used as well.
The ruler can be seem as an odd Agile tool, but I use it to measure on the whiteboard when the black line tape is put up. It can also be used to measure to divide stickies and make them smaller (if you don’t find them in different sizes).
The scissors are an odd friend if you are left-handed as I am. I can manage though since the cutting is limited to cutting of the black line tape and making stickies smaller :).
Magnets and glue stick
Above I think I’ve covered my favorite agile tools. If you want to go ”all in”, you can add magnets and glue stick to that list! With magnets, a printer and a glue stick you can make your own avatars. Maybe that can be the topic for another blog post if you are interested.
For me it’s about mastering the basics. If you use the tools above, and become good in using them like a craftsman, your visualizations will become better and even more fun to do!
All the best,
Tomas from TheAgileist